What Natural Phenomena Influenced Frankenstein?

Updated 8 November, 2023
When he was young, Victor Frankenstein watched a tree being hit by lightening during a storm. This natural phenomena sparked Frankenstein’s interest in the theories of electricity and galvanism.
Detailed answer:

In Mary Shelley's classic horror tale of the Romantic Era, Victor Frankenstein is interested in figuring out how the world works on a scientific level. This interest and his studies in this area help him to create his famous monster.
In the novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley utilizes the motif of lightning to represent the disastrous life of Victor Frankenstein showing how wrong choices can destroy one’s life. Victor Frankenstein led a difficult life struck by tragedies. Many catastrophes were marked by the appearance of lightning or the indication of lightning and electricity. The first appearance of this motif came in the second chapter of the novel. During the storm that young Victor witnesses in Belrive, an oak tree is stuck by lightning and subsequently mangled. Victor describes, “It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to thin ribbons of wood”. The tree was not destroyed by lightning in the stereotypical, jagged V-shape way; instead, it was completely torn apart and shredded. The first lightning strike in the novel was one of great power and strength if it completely destroyed such an old and large oak tree. The first lightning strike was primarily intended as an element of foreshadowing. As one of the first intricate details related by Victor Frankenstein, it served the purpose of setting up the rest of the story. In a literal sense, the lightning served the function of taking away the life of a tree. It was a brief destructive force that carried a large consequence.

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