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Maggie Bartony

AP Literature

Mrs. Bouch

4 December 2017

“How does the author use setting to display the monster’s loneliness”

Loneliness is a common occurrence in the world, and from this feeling arises countless

problems from individuals and society as a whole. This sense loneliness also plays a major theme

in Mary Shelly’s fictional book Frankenstein. Throughout her book, her characters are faced with

loneliness and isolation, which leads to issues just as loneliness does in the real world. Three

characters are faced with this isolation throughout the book: Frankenstein, Robert Walton, and

the monster. The monster however experiences a total alienation from society, and this

alienation leads to problems for different characters throughout the book. Shelly characterizes

this isolation in a variety of ways, but it is most clearly seen through the settings in the book.

Shelly, to convey the monster’s loneliness, uses the settings of Victor’s laboratory, the village,

and the monster’s preferred environment.

The first place the monster is seen in the book is Victor’s laboratory. The laboratory is

isolated and dark in the upstairs of an apartment. The laboratory is sheltered from the outside

world, and for two years, it is just Frankenstein creating the monster alone in the apartment. No

one had ever stepped foot in this room, which allows the audience to see how isolated the

laboratory is in the book. When the monster is being created, it is just it and Frankenstein, the

monster’s creator, alone in the reclusive laboratory. This isolation during the monster’s creation

foreshadows the isolation that the monster will feel during its life. When the monster is finally

created, Frankenstein, horrified by his creation, flees the laboratory, leaving the monster

completely alone. By showing the setting of the laboratory earlier in the novel, the audience
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knows that the monster is alienated from society once his creator leaves. This dreary and dull

setting lets the audience sympathize with the monster and it conveys the seclusion that monster


Shelly also uses the setting of the village to display the monster’s loneliness. The family

that the monster constantly observes when in the village is also very close. The setting of the

village is a close community. The audience is able to contrast the nature of the cottages with the

situation of the monster. The villagers are in constant communications with each other and are

devoted to each other, while the monster stays in the woods, out of sight of all the humans. This

setting allows for the audience to see how the monster lives in comparison to society. This lets

the isolation and alienation of the monster be very visible to the readers. In the book the

audience is able to see the monster’s reaction to a close-knit community. The response is to learn

the ways of these cottagers and to learn their language in hopes of being able to communicate.

The monster’s reaction to the setting of the village is curiosity. It wants to learn the ways to the

community because the village environment is so foreign to the monster. The audience, by

seeing the monster’s response to the village, see how secluded the monster feels. The fact that

the ways of common society are foreign to him allows the reader to understand the isolated life

the monster. Shelly, through her use of the setting of the village, effectively displays the

monster’s loneliness.

Shelly also uses the monster’s preferred environment to display the monster’s loneliness

to her readers. The monster lives on top of a mountain near a glacier. When it sees Frankenstein,

it takes him to an icy cave so that it may speak with him. The monster prefers a cold environment

that humans could not live in. The monster eventually flees from Frankenstein to the North Pole

where is it always frozen. The monsters ideal living conditions are unsustainable to humans and
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proves that the monster feels that it was not made to live in society. This shows the audience how

different the monster is from society and how it cannot live within the normal means of a

community. The desired environment of the monster contrasts so much with that of humans that

the reader is able to understand why the monster lives in isolation. He cannot comfortably live

with society, which contributes to his seclusion. Shelly uses the monster’s ideal environment as a

setting to show how the monster is alienated.

Isolation is one of the major themes of Shelly’s book and through her use of setting, she

is able to convey this theme to the readers. Shelly’s fictional story reveals the dangers of

isolation, which are relatable to the real world. This theme causes the reader to consider their

own life and if they have any form of such isolation in their life. After reading this story, the

audience cannot help but look at the settings of their own lives and ask “Am I at risk of this

loneliness also?”