Setting is crucial in any given novel or play. However, in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the country setting is crucial in understanding the emotions, characters, and events to come featured in the novel. As a romantic herself, Shelley utilizes the images of several scenes of nature to emphasize particular themes and ideas. From the changing seasons, violent storms, and the mountain and lakes, the country shows a multitude of aspects that relate to the story of Viktor Frankenstein.
The transition of summer to winter not only highlights Frankenstein's character, but is a useful tool for foreshadowing. Much like summer's bright and energetic characteristics, Frankenstein proves to be bright and energetic as well. As a child, Frankenstein had the love and affections from a happy family and a growing thirst for knowledge. This thirst for knowledge eventually thrusts Frankenstein into the University of Ingolstadt. It is here that Frankenstein's ambitions to surpass his colleagues and professors are highlighted. He soon becomes enveloped in his studies, which to him, is complete pleasure. He soon discovers the secret of animating a corpse and sets to construct a breathing organism. Frankenstein however, begins to describe the qualities of summer, where the days are long, and the nights are short. The long days serve to emphasize Frankenstein's happiness. Right now in the novel, Frankenstein believes to be doing great work in the field of science. However, when the creation of the monster becomes close, summer comes to an end. Frankenstein loses his previous optimistic character and his dreams become dark. The light begins to fade as darkness empowers it, much like Frankenstein's realization about his creation. Tortured by images of his creation, Frankenstein falls ill. But as both time and his illness pass, spring begins to emerge. Frankenstein's recovery and the emergence of springtime correlate to one another as it is a time of new beginnings. It is here that Frankenstein leaves the University of Ingolstadt and starts a new journey with his friend Clerval.
A noteworthy characteristic found in the country is their violent storms. Shelley masterfully uses storms to emphasize ominous events and the emotions of characters. In several instances, the lightning of a storm represents the godlike power of creation. This is emphasized in the passage when Frankenstein witnesses a tree wiped out by lightning. The lightning gives Frankenstein inspiration to uncover the spark of life. It is here where his desire to control the same power as lightning is conceived. But just as the tree was destroyed, Frankenstein and his world around him will be destroyed as well. As the story progresses, storms become intertwined with the idea of destruction. This is first introduced in the Monster's rage towards the DeLacey family. After being refused love and affection, the Monster erupts into a terrible rage. Driven with anger, the Monster finally burns down the cottage where they had first lived. As this is done, Shelley describes the wind to pick up and the might of the storm to roar with the same anger shown by the Monster. With each death found in Frankenstein, a violent storm is quickly followed after. After young William is strangled to death, a storm erupts over Geneva. Frankenstein is outside to witness this and exclaims that this is his funeral. The storm represents the turmoil faced by the Frankenstein family with the passing of William. Next, a powerful storm is what brings Frankenstein to Ireland. This is where he is placed in jail to be tried against the murder of his best friend, Clerval. Finally, a storm flares up over Elizabeth and Frankenstein on the day of Elizabeth's death. This storm serves to show that she is soon going to die at the hands of Frankenstein's monster. Constantly through the novel, Mary Shelley uses storms to stress the black and sinister nature of the book.