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Symbols

Light

Light symbolizes enlightenment in Frankenstein. Walton expects to find the secrets of the universe unveiled in the North Pole, which he describes as "a country of eternal light." Light also accompanies nearly all of Victor's epiphanies. When he first discovers natural philosophy, he says, "A new light seemed to dawn upon my mind." When he discovers the secret to creating life, he describes his feelings as if "a sudden light broke in upon me." He envisions pouring a "torrent of light into our dark world" through the creation of a new species. Yet light that's too bright is also blinding, and both Victor and Walton fail to see or consider the dangerous consequences of their quests for enlightenment.

Look for the red text to track where Light appears in: Letter 1

Fire

The complete title of Shelley's novel is Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus. Prometheus was the titan who, in Greek mythology, gave the knowledge of fire to humanity and then suffered severe punishment at the hands of the Gods for his generous actions. In Frankenstein, Victor attempts to give the gift of the secret of life to humanity, but ends up suffering grave punishment as a result: the monster he creates destroys his family and his life. Fire appears throughout the novel as a dangerous force used for sustenance (as when the monster discovers fire) and punishment (as when the monster describes demons suffering in the lake of fire in hell).

Look for the red text to track where Fire appears in: Chapter 7