Nature As Victor Frankenstein's Physician

Setting plays a pivotal role throughout Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Nature is presented as possessing an immense curative power: the beauty of the natural world heals Victor when he is too miserable to find solace anywhere else. The Arve Ravine and the Valley of Chamounix exemplify the harmony and serenity of nature, which is sharply contrasted with the chaos of Victor's troubled mind. This respite cannot last, however: Victor has violated both divine and natural law in attempting to appropriate the life principle which is the exclusive prerogative of God for himself. Therefore, even nature cannot save Victor from his inevitable punishment.

One of the most beautifully described settings in the novel is that of the Arve Ravine, which leads Victor to the Valley of Chamounix. The ravine is "picturesque" with its quaint cottages "peeping forth from among the trees" and castles "hanging on the precipices of piny mountains" (78). The landscape teems with detail: the reader is presented with a raging river, impressive mountains, and a gushing waterfall. The Valley of Chamounix is bounded by massive glaciers (including the magnificent Mont Blanc) and threatened by rumbling avalanches; Victor...

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