Frankenstein and the Sublime in Nature

810 Words4 Pages
The late-eighteenth century Romantic Period in Europe comprised a literary movement where humanity favoured imagination, emotions, and intuition over logic and reason. A theme associated with this period is the sublime. The sublime is an aesthetic theory developed by Edmund Burke in A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful. It is a literary concept that is best described as a mixture of intense emotion arising from terror and pleasure, which is brought forth by nature (Burke, 1756). The concept of the sublime is heavily displayed in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein through the use of extreme environmental imagery. Frankenstein is only able to identify with immense, sublime landscapes since they are the only sceneries extreme enough to communicate what Victor feels inside. Frankenstein’s emotions and moods are directly parallel to the natural environment that surrounds him. From the time Frankenstein created his monster, he finds little solace in the beauty of nature. Nature’s beauty also has the power over Frankenstein to evoke strong emotions. After the murder of his brother William, Frankenstein returns to his home in Geneva. As he nears his hometown, Victor stops to gaze at scenery familiar to his youth. Although the imagery has not changed, feelings of happiness and contempt are soon replaced with grief and fear: “I wept like a child. ‘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, 87). Frankenstein is offended by the beauty and calmness of the scenery because it diverges from the way he feels inside. The effects of the sublime on human emotions are further demonstrated when Frankenstein becomes depressed after the execution of his friend, Justine. His father,
Open Document