Nature and Technology in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'

Categories: Frankenstein

Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" intricately weaves a narrative exploring the dichotomy between nature and technology. Nature is portrayed as a bastion of purity and innocence within a corrupt world, holding the power to overwhelm human emotion and provide solace in the face of dismay. Victor, the central character, experiences nature not merely as a backdrop but as a personal physician and therapy during times of torment.

Negative Impact of Technology

In stark contrast, Shelley paints technology with a more ominous brush. The narrative suggests that humanity's relentless pursuit of rapid and immoral technological progress challenges the delicate balance of the natural order.

Victor's journey becomes a cautionary tale, illustrating that an unbridled embrace of technology can strip humanity of its moral compass and personal freedom. Technology becomes a source of sorrow and pain, leading to a profound loss of personal freedom as individuals become enslaved to machines.

Context of the Industrial Revolution

Shelley's exploration of the negative impact of technology gains depth when viewed against the backdrop of the Industrial Revolution that had pervaded European and British society during her time of writing.

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She questions the extent to which the ongoing wave of technological advances should push individuals in terms of personal and spiritual growth. The narrative suggests that the technological strides made until then might rob the soul of its potential growth, turning individuals into slaves of machines rather than masters.

Victor's Downfall due to Technology

The narrative unfolds Victor's descent into despair and moral decay as he becomes consumed by his ghastly experiments with technology.

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Victor's overindulgence in technological pursuits takes away his humanity, and he faces the consequences of his actions without fully grasping the potential repercussions. The tragedy unfolds as his ambitious attempt to improve technology results in the deaths of those close to him, including his wife. Shelley leaves no room for ambiguity, clearly communicating the notion that unchecked technological ambition leads to catastrophic outcomes.

Nature as Restorative Agent

Shelley strategically employs nature as a restorative force for Victor. As he grapples with grief over the murders of his friends and family, Victor repeatedly turns to nature for health, relaxation, and to fortify his spirits. Nature, particularly the air, emerges not just as a life-sustaining force but as a source of strength that Victor had not experienced before. The use of the term "salubrious," meaning "to bring health," underscores Shelley's intention to position nature as a powerful restorative agent. In the midst of the narrative, a clear connection is established between Victor and nature.

Nature's Healing Powers

The narrative highlights the curative powers of nature after the deaths of Victor's brother William and the family servant, Justine. Shelley crafts scenes where nature, with its serene lake and snowy mountains, acts as a healing backdrop for Victor's distressed mind. The calming effect of nature allows Victor to regain his composure and maintain his sanity as he journeys towards his family in Geneva. Shelley subtly implies that primitive nature holds more healing power for Victor than the technological advancements he creates, given the curative prowess of nature and the destructive consequences of his technological creation.

Nature vs. Technology Duality

The repeated depiction of natural settings throughout the narrative reinforces the idea that nature, with its healing properties, stands in stark contrast to the destructive nature of technology. Victor's obsession with nature appears inane to those around him, but Shelley suggests that it is perhaps part of Victor's flaws or a rejection of himself. Regardless of the reason, Shelley remains steadfast in asserting the healing power of nature and the annihilation caused by unchecked technological progress.

Conclusion on Nature's Healing and Technological Annihilation

In conclusion, Shelley paints a vivid picture of the contrasting roles of nature and technology in "Frankenstein." Nature emerges as a crucial element for Victor's health and sanity, repeatedly depicted as a force of rejuvenation and solace. The narrative emphasizes the repetitive portrayal of natural settings, underscoring their significance in preserving Victor's well-being. Shelley asserts that nature, with its inherent healing power, remains a steadfast force, while uncontrolled technological progress leads to annihilation and moral decay.

Updated: Jan 02, 2024
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Nature and Technology in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein'. (2016, Jul 20). Retrieved from

Nature and Technology in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' essay
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