Between “Eternal Light” and “Darkness and Distance” as Main Symbols in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus

2020 Words9 Pages

by Nikolay Valeriev Nikolov

Captain Walton is sailing to the “region of beauty and delight,” which is how he imagines the North Pole. He endeavours to “those undiscovered solitudes” and exclaims: “What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?” He is trying something uncommon for ordinary people on the one hand, and something possible from logical point of view on the other. Another “wayfarer” is Victor Frankenstein, who is striving for “eternal light,” but in another aspect. He is the “Modern Prometheus,” longing to “pour a torrent of light into our dark world,” while
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Victor’s blindness about the monster’s innocent nature is more harmful than the physical blindness. The blind De Lacey is the only man who perceives the monsters good resolutions. About the structure of the novel Nikolchina offers an interesting definition. It is “constructed as if of concentric circles of ice. The sailing to the North Pole is the outer circle, which serve as a frame of Frankenstein’s story. The conversation between the monster and Frankenstein among the sea of ice near Chamounix is the frame of the monster’s story, which is the core of the novel” (Nikolchina 86). The central part of his story is when after burning down the cottage of De Lacey he wonders: “And now, with the world before me, whither should I bend my steps?” (80). Hereafter he starts hunting for his creator and begins alienating from his natural innocence. The creature wends his way toward “darkness and distance.” The changing nature corroborates his moral collapse: “I travelled only at night, fearful of encountering the visage of a human being. Nature decayed around me, and the sun became heatless; rain and snow poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface of the earth was hard, and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter” (81). “Advancing into experience,” Miglena Nikolchina explains, “is entering into a core of cold as well” (87).
She suggests two aspects in analysing the role of ice. First it could be seen as “a supreme, unapproachable,

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