The Importance Of Civilization In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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Autumn is a time traditionally associated with the beauty of nature, the changing of the leaves, the crisp air. However, Mary Shelley’s autumn, as depicted in the last paragraph on page 131, is a time of transition, a time between the joys of summer and the utter desolation of winter. In her best-known novel, Frankenstein, Shelley utilizes the change of the seasons to illustrate the monster’s position in between nature and civilization. Civilization is defined as human cultural, social, and intellectual development, or the comfort and convenience of modern life, as found in towns and cities. Knowledge is used to overcome the physical trials of nature and relationships with others make living bearable. It is important to note that civilization …show more content…
Initially, the monster shows “surprise and grief” at the changing of the seasons (131). The monster has been in the woods for a year, as evidenced by the fact that nature “again” assumes the bleak appearance (131). The fact that he cannot comprehend the cyclical nature of the seasons shows his naiveté and innocence. His misery highlights his position under the will of nature. His dependence on the seasons for pleasure illustrates his uncivilized temperament. The characteristics of summer are his “chief delights,” emphasizing the correlation between the external world and his state of mind (131). This reliance on nature serves to highlight his lack of civilization. Later, the joys of summer “desert” the monster, reinforcing the idea of abandonment and isolation through the personification of the season (131). The monster has no real relationships, so the personification of nature serves to only further develop his lack of civilization. And although he is disappointed by the changing climate, the monster is “better fitted by [his] conformation for the endurance of cold than heat” (131). The idea that he is more “fit” for one season more than another shows his coexistence with nature. A civilized being would find ways to exist in both climes, but he is subject to the dictates of nature in determining his …show more content…
The passage is set in fall, a time of transition from life to death. Throughout the passage, the current state of nature is depicted as “barred and bleak,” suggesting a rigid, barren, dreary setting (131). The monster notices these changes, and is troubled with the change in climate. He feels “abandoned” by the joys of summer, describing the change of seasons as a “casualty” (131, 132). The monster has no control over nature, yet he is subject to the consequences. This abrupt transition into the cold makes the comforts of civilization all the more alluring to the monster, who is now faced with both emotional abandonment and physical discomfort as the landscape mirrors his internal state. As the warmth of summer gives way to the desolation of winter, the monster’s pleasure gives way to emptiness and emotional solitude. He is left longing for the “kindness and sympathy” of the cottagers (132). However, despite the negative connotations associated with winter, the monster is “better fitted by [his] conformation for the endurance of cold than heat” (131). Cold is indicative of fall and winter, a time of death and decay. Cold can also suggest isolation and hibernation. In contrast, warmth connotes growth and life. The monster’s composition, his nature, is better suited to sustaining the jarring cold. By design, his

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