The Arctic regions: ice and snow

Photo by Jerzy Strzelecki available through Creative CommonsIce and snow are, of course, inevitably part of those scenes set in the mountains, but this pattern of imagery begins and ends the novel in the Arctic region:

  • Captain Walton writes his first letters from St Petersburg and Archangel in the north of Russia
  • he is bound for the North Pole.

These Arctic settings are used to represent a number of important themes in the novel, some of which are discussed elsewhere in this guide:

  • it is empty, unexplored, virgin country and Walton regards it as ripe for exploration; like Frankenstein in his work in creating the monster, he hopes to penetrate the mysteries of the Arctic and to open it up for trade (see also Religious/philosophical context: Sir Humphry Davy and Good and bad science and Characterisation: Robert Walton)
  • the Arctic is also quite resistant to the kind of penetration that Walton plans: in the last part of the novel his ship becomes locked in the ice and the crew – who don't share his obsessive desire to explore the region – demand that they should return to England
  • it is an inhospitable and largely uninhabited region at the edge of the known world, and is, therefore, one of the few places where the monster can live: his banishment to this frozen place symbolises his treatment at the hands of his creator and his rejection by society.
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