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The weather plays an irrevocable role as the main source of foreshadowing in Frankenstein. Each storm brings about the next tragedy in Victor Frankenstein’s life. The events that bring about Frankenstein’s demise start innocently, but as his curiosity grows deeper, the storms that surround his life begin to symbolize the danger he poses to everyone he loves. The storms take on qualities that reflect the event they foreshadow. Rain, Lightning, and Thunder symbolize different aspects of Victor Frankenstein’s failures and misfortunes.
The weather in Frankenstein fosters the dismal tone, reflects Victor’s mood, and foreshadows events that occur because of the monster he created.
Each weather event has a specific narrative purpose. The first storm occurred when Victor “witnessed a most violent and terrible thunderstorm” (Shelley 25). He watched an oak tree be “entirely reduced to thin ribbons of wood” by a single strike of lightning (Shelley 25). This storm sparked Frankenstein’s curiosity and encouraged him to study galvanism.
Lightning is the most important aspect of this storm, and it becomes a motif throughout the novel that symbolizes the dangers of rouge curiosity. This curiosity led to the death of Victor’s brother William. When Victor is searching for William’s murderer, there were “vivid flashes of lightning” all around him (Shelley 59). The lightning strikes lead Victor to connect the monster to the crime. Victor feels grief-stricken and angry which can be symbolized by the lightning flashing all around him. The lightning serves as both foreshadowing the evils of Victor’s science and an embodiment of his subsequent grief.
The mood of the novel is mysterious and foreboding. The atmosphere plays a critical role in making Victor’s story seem more like a nightmare. Directly after Victor creates the monster, the rain is described as pouring from a “black and comfortless sky” (Shelley 42). Victor thought that his creation would serve as his great accomplishment and as a way to honor his father’s work. Unfortunately, he gave rise to a “demoniacal corpse” that only brought pain and suffering to his life (Shelley 41). Surrounding the monster with imagery of dark clouds and rain creates a mysterious effect and adds to the drama of the story. After the monster is unleashed, Victor falls ill and stays in bed for a long period of time. He feels guilty that he ran away from his creation and anxiously hopes that the monster does no harm. The weather remains “dismal and wet” while he fears the repercussions that he will face for creating the monster (Shelley 42). The weather surrounds Victor at all of his lowest points to reflect the darkness that builds inside of him. This is central to the creation of the mysterious and horrifying mood of the novel.
After Victor and Elizabeth were married, Victor became afraid that his monster would come to kill them. The suspense heightened when Victor and Elizabeth walked outside to wait for the monster to appear. Just then, a “heavy storm of rain descended” on the pair, and Victor tells Elizabeth to go inside. The storm foreshadows the events that follow by creating the perfect, dark atmosphere for the murder to take place. Elizabeth’s death triggered Victor to chase his monster up into the artic on a quest to avenge his wife. As soon as Victor caught up to his creation, the “wind arose” and the ice cracked “with the shock of a mighty earthquake” (Shelley 183). The ice separated the monster from his creator and let him go free. This last act of nature is a reflection on the anger Victor is feeling. His intention to kill his creation is so violent that it physically shook the Earth. The suspense created by these weather events provides a satisfying conclusion to the foreshadowing built up by storms throughout the novel.
The weather events in the novel foreshadow a tragic ending for Victor Frankenstein. Storms occur at every poor decision Victor makes and at every consequence of those actions. Without mentioning the weather, the novel would lose a device that unifies shocking events. The storms create a dark atmosphere that allows the shock of these key moments to have a greater horrific effect. The darkness of the storms also reflects the growing hatred and anger inside of Victor that comes to a head at the end of the novel. The storms in Frankenstein play versatile roles in the novel that contribute to the mood and overall effect of the novel.
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