Ecocriticism and Frankenstein

1210 Words5 Pages
Given the deep ties to nature that Mary Shelley explores within Frankenstein, the principles and methodology of ecocriticism can be applied in many different ways. The interaction of humanity and nature is a concept explored throughout the novel, relating directly to a core tenet of ecocriticism, "directly relat[ing] who we are as human beings to the environment" (Bressler 231). Being as there is no "single, dominant methodology" (235) within ecocriticism, the extent to which we can use ecocriticism to interact with Frankenstein contains considerable depth. However, I will look to a few main methodologies of ecocriticism to look at Frankenstein in detail to uncover how the novel deals with the changing attitudes of humanity and nature in early 19th century England.

Beginning with first wave ecocriticism, the focus on 19th century literature positions Frankenstein right in the radar of the early period of American "nature writing" as well as British writers dealing with humanity and nature as an effect of Romanticism, such as William Wordsworth, John Keats, Samuel Taylor Coleridge among others. Mary Shelley directly quotes Wordsworth and Coleridge through the voice of what could be considered the most "human" of the main characters within Frankenstein, Victor. While lamenting over the loss of his friend Clerval, Victor refers to a passage from Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey" to express the high value he holds for his departed friend, highlighting important interactions between human interests and nature. Many of the images of beauty expressed through Wordsworth's lines shows the appreciation for nature and its importance over human concerns, and an examination of the deep connections between humanity and nature that ideally should b...

... middle of paper ...

... may result in the imbalance of that which sustains us and our subsequent destruction. While Victor can control nature and bend it to his will in unnatural ways, once confronted with the natural elements, none of his science and ingenuity can save him. Throughout the novel Victor goes to nature for solace, expecting nothing but return, and expects the same throughout the novel, right to his own demise. This lesson is not only applicable to when Frankenstein was written, at an explosively progressive period during the Industrial Revolution, but also to all generations and their relationship with human progression and nature preservation.

Works Cited

Bressler, Charles E. Literary Criticism: An Introduction to Theory and Practice. 5th ed. New York: Longman, 2011. Print.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Ed. Paul Hunter. 2nd ed. New York: Norton, 2011. Print.
Open Document