By "view of nature" Victor Frankenstein in no way signifies what a modern person would in using the term "natural view." But just exactly what he does mean is debatable. Johnson's 1755 Dictionary gives eleven definitions of the word, none of which conforms to our idea of nature as merely an external, visual phenomenon.
- An imaginary being supposed to preside over the material and animal world
- The native state of properties of any thing, by which it is discriminated from others
- The constitution of an animated body
- Disposition of mind; temper
- The regular course of things
- The compass of natural existence
- Natural affection, or reverence; native sensations
- The state or operation of the material world
- Sort; species
- Sentiments or images adapted to nature, or conformable to truth and reality
- Physics; the science which teaches the qualities of things
Given this spectrum of meanings, we might suppose that the first application, from Victor Frankenstein's perspective, would be to the last connotation. He is, after all, a scientist speaking to another engaged in research and suggesting to him that the known boundaries of the discipline are inadequate to the realities he has uncovered. And yet the fact that these earlier definitions of nature touch so pointedly on what we might ordinarily think of as extraneous categories—moral or theological—should prepare us for such an elaboration in Victor's narrative as well. The second and third definitions, for instance, pertain as much to what Victor as creator imparted to his Creature's mind as to his body, and the fourth might raise the question of his essential morality. The seventh might revert to Victor's own psychological shortcomings, or, depending on one's perspective, those of his Creature. That "power" is associated in Victor's mind with his idea of nature allows us, as well, to cross the one spectrum of meanings with another distinctive to that term itself. Again, Victor might think of it in a strictly scientific sense, as a producer of essential energy, an aspect of the electricity that is understood as a dynamic force by both him and Walton. And yet, as we will eventually learn, his existence has in its recent history turned almost wholly on an axis of personal power politics as he has struggled with his Creature for dominance.