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The natural world is depicted as inspiring and at the same time threatening as alternated by Shelley between the Gothic sublime and Romantic Sublime landscapes. Gothic sublime brings a sickening sense while the Romantic sublime landscape is associated with a sickening sense. In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, it is fascinating to know how Mary applies the two landscapes in regard to Victor Frankenstein’s wavering psychological state. The following essay is about an over-ambitious scientist named Frankenstein, whose curiosity prompts him to create a monster back from death, which later leaves him devastated. After creating the monster and observing the dismay that emerges in his making, Frankenstein becomes distressed in a ‘painful state of mind,’ which made him isolated from the rest of the world. Frankenstein’s ability to bring life into a lifeless body was perceived to be thrilling and socially corrupt, hence everyone in the society disassociated with such an enormous accomplishment, including Frankenstein himself. Therefore, due to the fact that he was unable to associate himself with his successful accomplishment of bringing something ridiculous to live, Frankenstein became concealed into the dark secrets that retreated within him as a result of guilt. Frankenstein’s self-revealed supremacy is indeed destructive in a way that it completely disconnected him from his surroundings including everything dear in his life, the family together with the lovely landscapes. Since that point henceforth, Frankenstein is defined with immense, big, sublime landscapes since these are the only landscapes extreme enough to communicate Frankenstein’s internal feelings.
Since Frankenstein created his monster, he appreciates the beauty of nature, which is shown by Shelley as a Romantic sublime landscape. One of the passages that are striking is when Frankenstein exclaimed, ‘Dear Mountains! My own beautiful lake! How do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?’ (Shelley 106). According to the statement, it seems like Frankenstein is offended by the beauty and calmness of the landscape just because it differs with his internal feelings. Furthermore, he stated that: ‘pass through many beautiful and majestic scenes [with] eyes fixed and unobserving’ and ‘shunn[ing] the face of man; all sounds of joy or complacency [being] torturous to [him]; solitude [being his] only consolation — deep, dark, death-like solitude’ (Shelley 210). The proof that shows Frankenstein experiencing peace and beauty of the scenes conflicting is when he lamented that there is nothing he considered to be as painful as humankind, especially when the feeling is evoked by a fast series of events, then accompanied by the dead quietness of dormancy, then followed by inevitability which divests both fear and hope (127). This shows that Frankenstein is haunted, hence incapable of enjoying attractive landscapes since neither the landscape’s quietness speaks to Frankenstein’s anguished soul nor does it offer any mental state of complete hope and fear. Specifically, the scene’s calmness only offers potential feelings for the onlooker, letting the onlooker to easily get the sensation of the scenery and make some response. Indeed, this is not helpful in resolving Frankenstein’s distress state since he is already drowned in his despair. Therefore, Frankenstein needs a stimulating, every-varying landscape with the potential to compellingly lead his state of consciousness far from his worries to feel rejuvenated alive once again.
The similar sublime landscape is evident through the thunderstorm that Frankenstein encounters as he returns from Geneva after he learned about the murder of his brother, William by the monster he created. In this context, thunder is described as one resonating from Saleve, the Juras, and the Alps of Savoy bursting with a terrifying crash over Frankenstein’s head. Vividly, flashing lightning dazzled Frankenstein’s eyes, which illuminates the lake that makes it look like a massive mass of fire. Then after sometimes everything turned into pitchy darkness, up to when the eye recuperated from the previous flash (Shelley 107). Frankenstein finds the chaotic, dynamic moving storm that is both terrifying and chaotic which he credits it ‘noble war in the sky’ for ‘elevating his spirits’ (Shelley 107). The sceneries are described is the Montavert and Arveiron, which also brings about a positive response form, Frankenstein. At the time of Frankenstein’s family trip to the Arveiron, the beautiful and outstanding scenes satisfied Frankenstein’s greatest comfort that was able of getting as his littleness of feeling got aroused; however, it did not eliminate his dismay but it at least anesthetized and subdued it’ (Shelley 132). The same way Frankenstein recalls ‘the effect that the view of [Montanvert’s] tremendous and ever-moving glacier had filled [him] with a sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul, and allowed it to soar from the obscure world to light and joy’ (Doyle, Debra, Mary 135). As per Frankenstein, the landscape signifies the majestic and awful nature that influenced the solemnizing of his mind and prompted him to forget his past life (Shelley 136). Actually, the extreme landscapes of these sublimes have the power to offer victor a moment of comfort, however, the moment of comfort was brief until when the reappearance of his creature which made Frankenstein to again submerge into his misery.
To conclude, Mary Shelley effectively applied the use of landscape to link Frankenstein’s shifting mentality. The natural imaginings in ‘Frankenstein’ is similar to Romantic literature.
Through his work, Frankenstein has gone beyond nature and crossed the limit of human morality, to that of God where he brings a lifeless body back to life. Through his actions, Frankenstein had isolated himself from ordinary humankind. Therefore, far from normal humans who seek an attractive landscape that is wonder-inspiring, Frankenstein views similar landscapes as incompetent and indifferent of healing his distressed mind. Instead, he recognizes the enormous, beautiful landscapes since they are the only ones that are considered influential and great to carry his mind far from his troubles, then giving him coziness during his uneven state. The landscapes are employed by Shelley to create the metaphors that describe a Frankenstein’s state of mind. The landscape is seen as the natural restorative agent, provoking the states of astonishment. Nature is relatively significant to Frankenstein’s sanity and health, and the description of the natural setting becomes redundant as Frankenstein unfolds. Even though Frankenstein is tormented with the fact that the monster he created has killed his family and friends, he appears to be drawn to nature for support rather than his family and friends. His enthusiasm with nature appears to be more insane as he avoids humanity. Shelley completely extensively applies nature as the source of stability for Frankenstein’s world.
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