Geographical structures

Use of contrast

The novel is also structured in terms of where its action takes place. This aspect of the book's structure is largely organised in terms of contrast:

  • Victor's home in Geneva is set against Ingoldstadt, where he studies and where he creates the monster
  • Life in Ingoldstadt is contrasted more generally with that in Switzerland, among whose mountains and lakes Victor is most likely to live a peaceful and harmonious life
  • The summits of mountains are seen in contrast to rivers, lakes and valleys. It is at or near the summits of mountains that William is murdered and Victor meets the monster
  • The country around Geneva and other rural locations is very different from the more remote and inhospitable terrain, forests, deserts and high cold places, from Europe to Russia and the Arctic where the monster is forced to live his life, and where Victor eventually follows him
  • Life in England is set against the dangerous Arctic waters where Walton spends most of the novel
  • The isolation of Victor's second laboratory on Orkney is in contrast to the busier life of London and other cities.

No straightforward symbolism

No single or unchangeable value is attached to either urban or rural locations:

  • Geneva seems to enjoy civil liberties and rational virtues – yet Justine is destroyed by the Swiss legal system
  • Ingoldstadt is an intellectually stimulating city but it offers Victor the opportunity to lock himself away and pursue his studies in disastrous directions
  • Mountains and lakes bring refreshment and a sense of beauty, but may also be the sites of violence and unwelcome encounters
  • The monster is condemned to live away from towns and cities, but he learns how to live in and with nature and to feed and warm himself.
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