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The Romantic Elements in Frankenstein

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    Romanticism: An Era Displayed Through Literature Some say that after an era of conservatism, an era of liberalism follows. The Industrial Revolution was a time of all work and no play and spanned from about 1800 to 1850. The industrialization and urbanization of major cities led to horrid cities and ghastly working conditions. The children of this era saw these things and wanted to escape, thus creating the Romantic Period. One of those people wanting to escape was writer Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein.

    This romantic novel tells a story of scientist Victor Frankenstein and the making of his revolting creature. In Frankenstein Shelley conveys many of the key characteristics of romantic novel through incorporating the love for nature, the yearning for isolationism and the freedom of emotion. One of the important elements in romanticism is being alienated from the rest of society. Victor Frankenstein is the perfect example of a romantic hero. When he goes away for college, he purposely fails to keep in touch with his family.

    He is so busy learning knew things and experiencing the beauty of what is around him he forgets about his loved ones as shown by this quote, “ And the same feelings which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent, and whom I had not seen for so long a time”(43). Also, Victor tends to run from his problems, instead of confronting them or expressing them to anyone else. Instead of dealing with his creation of the monster and trying to teach it how to be a human, he ignores it and lets it hurt those he loves.

    One simple gesture could have saved him a world of hurt, but his ego just gets in the way. On their marriage night, Victor fails to tell Elizabeth of the monster, thinking he can handle the problem himself, and she is dead a few hours after he marries her. Shelley making Victor an isolationist adds depth to the plot as she molds him in to a romantic hero. Another romantic element Shelley uses to develop the story into a romantic novel is the theme of nature. Shelley uses in depth detail of nature to set the mood and provide imagery.

    Throughout the novel Victor Frankenstein’s mood is determined based of the environment he is in. Victor’s mood could be changed just from glancing at the scenery. After Victor finds out about his brother William’s death, he is in a “painful state of mind” but the environment he finds himself in helps to console his sadness as seen on page 62, “By degrees the calm and heavenly scene restored me, and I continued my journey towards Geneva”(62). Also, the weather in this novel seems to foreshadow the events to come.

    Every time something negative occurs in Victor’s life, the scenery is usually dark and it is storming. Right before Elizabeth’s death a storm blew in when the darkness fell. These elements of nature help to further Frankenstein as a romantic novel. Many of the characters in Frankenstein, especially the men, freely express emotion throughout the novel. Many actions preformed come off as overly dramatic. Victor is not afraid to be emotional and does not portray a false sense of masculinity. Most men would not be as touched by the beauty of nature as much as Victor is.

    Every time a family member dies, he is deeply saddened to the point that he becomes ill. Also the creature displays emotion from the time his is created. He wants nothing more than to be accepted and when this is not accomplished, he feels a whirlwind of emotions from rage to depression. The monster is even saddened by the death of Victor, even though Victor was cruel to him the entire novel. Walton describes the creature and says “I was at first touched by the expression of his misery”(199). It is astonishing that a creature like that can display so much human emotion.

    Shelley successfully uses the element of emotion to develop the novel. Mary Shelley’s romantic ideals are conveyed through her writing as seen in Frankenstein. Her use of the beauty of nature, the isolated characters, and the deep emotions felt by all deepens the plot of the novel. She also allows the reader to understand the events happening at that time and the emotions felt. Shelley also uses Victor Frankenstein as a representation of the ideal romantic hero. In conclusion, the romantic elements in Frankenstein accurately depict the Romantic period.

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