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The Sublime Theory

At the base of the sublime there’s a sense of fear and for this reason it’s associated with night, dark places, darkness, it’s connected to the irrational; while the beautiful is connected to the harmony, a sense of balance, opposite to sublime, something totally rational. The sublime was theorized by Edmund Burke in his famous work A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Idea of the Sublime and Beautiful. The sublime is something incredibly important in the art of this time, not only in literature, in fact there are examples of this also in painting with pictures like The great fall on the Riechenbach of Turner, one of the greatest romantic artists in England. The sublime is an element that attracts, but at the same time threaten, because of his element of fear and darkness. The typical sublime themes are things such as mountains, rocks, waterfalls and all of this are even more sublime if represented at nighttime, because it give an element of mystery and fear.

Even in Frankenstein there are lots of scenes characterized by the theme of sublime, for example when the creature and the creator finally met on the Alps on a glacier (the “sea of ice”). Another important element is that all the most important scenes are set at nighttime, starting for the creation of the monster. This element create a connection between this novel and the gothic literature, which has lots of scenes set at night, particularly at midnight, which is seen as a magic moment, the moment in which strange and mysterious things happen.

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