The Role Of Place Essay

3183 words - 13 pages

Discuss the role of place and setting in the three following novels: Shelley's "Frankenstein", Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway", and Defoe's "Moll Flanders".In order to analyze the role which place and setting can play in novels, I have chosen to study the three following novels: Shelley's "Frankenstein", Woolf's "Mrs. Dalloway", and Defoe's "Moll Flanders".Places and setting play an important role in Shelley's "Frankenstein" as they are what give life to it; places and settings are the reasons of many of the happenings in this novel.One of the first important setting in Shelley's "Frankenstein is 'The Arctic Circle'. The story of Frankenstein is told at a great distance, both physically and psychologically. The epistolary novel opens with letters from Robert Walton to his sister in England. Walton is on an exploring expedition to the far north, and his letters are dated from locations farther and farther north, starting with St. Petersburg, Russia, then Archangel, then unspecified locations, as Walton passes into unexplored territory. When his ship is surrounded by fog and ice floes, his crew sees Victor Frankenstein crossing the ice with a dog sled. They rescue him; Frankenstein tells his story. Before he does so, however, Frankenstein indicates that the desire to find the North Pole is as dangerous as his inquiry into unknown scientific regions, asking Walton, "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness?" When Frankenstein's story is complete, he dies. His monstrous creation, after finally forgiving him, flees across the polar sea and out of human knowledge, showing how place, especially place at a distance, plays an important part in the resolution of this novel."What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?" This quote is from Walton's first letter to his sister in England. It shows Walton's quest to reach the northernmost part of the earth, which parallels, in spirit at least, Victor's quest for the secret of life; both Walton and Victor seek ultimate knowledge.Place and setting is also utilised in a more obscure sense in Frankenstein. "I feel pleasure in dwelling on the recollections of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind, and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into gloomy and narrow reflections upon self . . . I find it arise, like a mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources; but swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which, in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys". This is Shelley using natural metaphors in order to describe Victor's childhood. This use of a mountain river to portray Victor's emotions is the establishment of a theme which is continued throughout the novel. This introduction of human feeling being paralleled within nature shows that Shelley prefers to use natural metaphor, place, and setting as opposed to other descriptions; rather then displaying Victor's emotions through discourse or dialogue, she selects the more romantic image of a "[swelling] mountain...

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