Frankenstein Study Guide

Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is presented as a frame tale, told by Captain Walton while on an expedition to the North Pole, where he finds Frankenstein. Frankenstein is a scientist who created a monstrous human-like Creature. The Creature tried to explain his murders to Frankenstein, claiming that people rejected and feared him, begging Frankenstein to make him a mate. Frankenstein first agrees then destroys the mate. The enraged Creature kills Frankenstein's wife, fleeing to the North Pole. After Frankenstein dies, Walton sees the Creature mourning as he floats away on a raft.

Brief Summary

After Justine's death, Victor miserably contemplated his past. He had created the monster with benevolent intentions but his plans had gone wrong. He felt unhappy in the company of others, and he spent most of his time alone.

The family went to stay in their other home in the nearby suburb of Belrive. Here Victor took a boat out onto the lake late at night when others were asleep. During these excursions he often thought about drowning himself. He was afraid, however, of leaving the rest of his family in the world with the monster he had created. It was certain the monster would strike again, probably with an even worse crime. Victor was full of remorse, as well as hatred and a desire to destroy the monster.

Their previously happy home was heavy with grief. Alphonse's health suffered and Elizabeth was despondent. She still believed in Justine's innocence and thought William's murderer walked free. Elizabeth also expressed her concern for Victor, having observed his looks of sadness and anger. She wished to help him, but nothing could alleviate Victor's suffering. He sought relief in wandering outside, where the natural splendor sometimes soothed him.

Detailed Summary

After Justine's death, Victo suffered through a period of sleeplessness and tormented contemplation of his past. He had created the monster with benevolent intentions but his plans had gone horribly awry. He felt wretchedly unhappy in the company of others, especially when others were joyful, and he both punished and consoled himself with solitude, deep, dark, deathlike solitude. Assuming Victor's pain to be from grief alone, his father Alphonse attempted to bring Victor out of his misery, telling him it made the dead even more unhappy to watch over the living in their sorrow. Victor was unable to explain his situation to Alphonse and only looked at him with hopelessness.

The family went to stay in their other home in the nearby suburb of Belrive. Here Victor could take a boat out onto the lake late at night when others were asleep. During these excursions he often thought about drowning himself. He took comfort, however, in the way Elizabeth bravely continued to live, and knew his death would only intensify her current anguish. He was also afraid of leaving the rest of his family in the world with the monster he had created. He predicted that, as long as anything he loved remained, it was certain the monster would strike again, probably with an even more heinous crime. Victor had no hope of ever being at peace again. He was full of remorse and sadness, as well as hatred and a desire to destroy the monster, avenging William's and Justine's deaths.

Their previously happy home was heavy with grief. Alphonse's health suffered and Elizabeth was despondent. She was stricken by the realization of how evil humans could be, and still she believed in Justine's innocence. She couldn't conceive of how both William and Justine could be dead, both by the hands of villains, in her opinion. She lamented that the William's murderer walked free. Victor listened to Elizabeth with despair, feeling as though he himself was the real murderer. Elizabeth expressed her concern and sadness for Victor, having observed his looks of depression and vengeance. She wished that she and the family could make him happy again.

Yet even the sweetness of his friendship with Elizabeth or the beautiful nature around them could not alleviate Victor's suffering. He imagined himself a wounded deer, limping off to a secluded place, to look sadly at the arrow that had struck it and die. Victor sought relief in wandering outside, where the natural splendor sometimes soothed him. He set off on a journey around nearby valleys, traveling on horseback and then renting a mule for the more difficult terrain. He marveled at the magnificence of nature, especially of the Alps. He passed lush fields and crumbling old castles. He ascended a snowy mountain and gazed upon soft white peaks. For a brief time, he felt as though nature were nurturing and mothering him. Soon, however, he fell back into horrifying misery, and he found a village where he could rest his fatigued mind and body. The sounds of nature outside his window lulled him to sleep.

Analysis

In this chapter, Victor falls into a deep depression, similar in its intense despair to his illness after he created the monster. Desolation and despair are focal points for Romantic authors. Victor rows a boat around a nearby lake at night and contemplates suicide. As in the previous chapter with Justine, death is perceived to be a relief. Victor feels that he has wreaked enough havoc on the world and ought to just leave it. He is afraid, however, of what the monster might still do to Victor's loved ones if he were to kill himself. There is irony in the fact that Victor wants to commit suicide. He had devoted immense energy and time to figuring out how to create life and possibly even make all dead things come back to life, and now he wishes to end his own life.

Attempting to ease his mind, Victor takes a tour of a nearby French valley. He wishes to climb the highest peak of the Alps, the Mont Blanc. In his journey, he marvels at his majestic natural surroundings. His mind begins to relax and he is reminded that he is only one small human in a world of tremendously powerful natural forces. He senses a presence more pervasive and controlling than himself: God. He remembers that he doesn't need to fear anything or tremble under anything other than the magnificence of God. This idea soothes him.

The concept of nature as a refreshing and reviving force on humans is common in Romantic literature. Victor describes extreme landscapes, sweeping views, and awe-inspiring natural sights. The wonders of nature amaze and pacify him. Indeed, they pacify him in the same way his mother would. Like a lullaby, Victor's natural surroundings sing him to sleep at night. The very winds whispered in soothing accents, and maternal nature bade me weep no more. This idea of nature as mother will arise again when the monster, abandoned by his creator, seeks a maternal influence and can only depend on nature.

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