Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein depicts how ideals can be received once they are fulfilled. As a cautionary example of negative reception of an ideal, Shelley uses Victor Frankenstein’s achievement of animating a lifeless corpse of mixed body parts. The actions and reactions of Frankenstein and the Creature highlight how making a dream a reality does not always yield a desired effect. Frankenstein’s images of unendurable ice emphasize Shelley’s admonishment of the danger of realizing an ideal.
Frankenstein is portrayed as an individual who cherishes the conceptual aspect of an ideal but cannot cope with it after it has been realized, and his change of attitude towards ice reflects this dilemma. Frankenstein initially views the ice as an element that he can admire, saying that He does not believe ice to be an unendurable realm, but rather as an area that he can comfortably exist in. These sentiments correlate to the ecstasy that Frankenstein experiences during the creation of his Creature. The ice, just like his ideal, the Creature, is something that can be manipulated. Frankenstein’s comment of the ice looking like a plaything parallels his regard of the Creature’s body before it is animated. Similarly, both the ice and the concept of animating the Creature provide Frankenstein with extreme satisfaction. Shelley develops this parallel as a necessary step to setting up Frankenstein’s rejection of his realized ideal, which is where Shelley’s theme is revealed.
Once Frankenstein’s positive consideration of ice is established, the swift change in his regard of ice reveals how ideals can turn out to be worse than they are as theories. Frankenstein states that he must Shelley’s diction in this statement concerning survival and endurance underscores the effects of the Creature’s existence on humans. The fact that Frankenstein admits that he has no chance to survive the harsh reality of the ice signals that he cannot survive with the reality of his Creature as well. His confession signals that ideals can evolve into repulsive realities. Frankenstein notes that few inhabitants of the world can endure the ice, and metaphorically they cannot endure the reality of the Creature just like Frankenstein. This image presents Shelley’s warning toward realizing ideals, for Frankenstein’s ideal affects everyone. Although his achievement was great, even Frankenstein cannot bear to exist with it; his transitory comfort and sudden hatred of ice expresses that the outcome of reaching a desired ideal is not always endurable.
The discrepancy between Frankenstein’s inability and the Creature’s capability to survive in ice also underscores how an ideal can be rejected by man if it is not a desired reality. Frankenstein asserts that
Here Shelley uses ice-caves to convey that an ideal can be rejected and completely abandoned by man if it is hideous enough, for the Creature exists where no human wishes to exist. Frankenstein’s statement expresses that...