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

In this chapter, the monster begins narrating his life story, from his earliest memories after he was created by Victor. In his first moments of life, he felt a myriad of sensations. Gradually he learned that the different parts of his body were capable of sensing many different things. He walked outside and went to the forest on the outskirts of Ingoldstadt.

At night, the light of the moon comforted him. Over the next several days, his senses became sharper. He discovered a fire and learned how to keep it burning. He journeyed for days in the woods. Finally he came to a village. He tried to enter a cottage, but he horrified the townspeople. Villagers threw things at him until he fled. He found a low hovel where he remained for the night.

He discovered a nearby cottage and started to spy on the people who lived there. He watched the people who lived in the cottage and discovered that a young woman, a young man, and an old man all lived within. This was the first experience the monster ever had with human warmth and affection.

Detailed Summary

In this chapter, the monster begins narrating his life story, from his earliest memories after Victor created him. In his first moments of life, he felt a myriad of sensations, none of which he could identify or name. Gradually he learned that the different parts of his body were capable of sensing many different things. He walked and discovered that he could walk over or around objects that were in his path. He walked outside and, seeking shade, went to the forest on the outskirts of Ingoldstadt. He rested by a brook, became hungry and thirsty, and found that he could eat berries. He fell asleep.

He awoke at night, and was cold and frightened. The light of the moon comforted him, and he was intrigued by it. He soon found a large cloak and put it on to warm himself. He felt a wide variety of different things hunger, thirst, cold, darkness and the only thing he could distinguish for sure was the light of the round moon.

Over the next several days, he began to see more clearly, and could pinpoint some of the sounds he heard, such as birds singing. Every day he learned more about the world around him, and his senses became sharper. He could distinguish animals from trees and grasses from bushes. He observed which birds sang sweetly and which did not.

One day the monster came across a fire that had been left by beggars. The warmth and light was pleasant to him so he tried to touch it, and learned about the effects of fire. He figured out that the fire required dry branches and air to continue burning, and he carefully kept it alight in order to stay warm. He soon discovered that the fire also made many foods taste better, and learned to cook what was available to him.

Eventually, however, his food sources around the fire area were depleted and he had to leave it. He worried about leaving the fire because he didn't know how to make another one. Regardless, he set out walking and journeyed for three days in the woods. He came upon open country, and it started to snow. The strange white stuff made his feet cold. Eventually the monster came across a small hut and he entered it. Inside, an old man sat cooking food over a fire, and he screamed when he spotted the monster. He ran shrieking out of the hut and the monster ate his food, and slept in his hut.

The following day he set out again and finally came to a village. The concept of a town seemed odd and miraculous to the monster. There were many homes and plentiful food. He tried to enter a cottage, but he horrified the townspeople. Children screamed and ran away, and women fainted. Other villagers began throwing things at the monster until he fled. He ran to open country and found a low hovel that could protect him from the elements. He remained there for the night.

The next day he discovered a nearby cottage and he started to spy on the people who lived there. Remembering his experiences in the village, he stayed hidden behind stones and wood. When he saw that nobody was inside the cottage, he sneaked in and stole some food. He retreated back to his hiding places and gladly ate his stolen goods. He watched the people who lived in the cottage and discovered that a young woman, a young man, and an old man all lived within. The young girl was often sad, and the young man often tried to comfort her. The both of them tried to hide their sorrow from the elderly man. Often the older man would sit by a fire and play an instrument. The monster observed all this through a slit in the wood that covered one window.

This was the first experience the monster ever had with human warmth and affection. He was touched by the sweet music the old man played, and by the gentle way the young woman and young man doted on him. The monster felt overwhelming emotions when he watched the family members help each other and console each other. He watched them use candles and read aloud from books, all of which was bizarre and fascinating to the monster. He decided they were excellent creatures .

Analysis

The monster describes his first living experiences, which basically consist of him getting used to having five senses and perceiving the world through them. He does not seem to remember seeing Victor when he was first created.

The monster goes into the woods and learns how to live off the land. He is a vegetarian in that it doesn't even occur to him to kill something and eat it. He is gentle and docile, and when he gets used to them he delights in the birds and other animals of the woods. As it has been in the novel so far, nature is a calming force. When he is first out in the woods and startled by nearly everything around him, the monster derives great comfort from the moon, which is traditionally a symbol of femininity and often motherhood. Lacking any real parents, the monster looks to the moon for guidance and peace. The moon is ever watchful, helpful with its light but not as aggressive as the sun. Later the monster becomes a nocturnal creature, only roaming the woods freely by the light of the moon. This is partially so that he won't be discovered by other people, but also partially because of his affinity for the moon.

In the monster's first encounters with other humans, it is painfully clear why he ultimately becomes so bitter and filled with hate. Horrified at his appearance, people scream at him and beat him, when the monster's intentions were purely friendly. Being unaccustomed to the ways of human society, these cruel actions are horrendously bewildering. Thus, he observes the cottager family from a safe distance.

In this novel, Shelley presents the cottager family as the epitome of domestic peace and familial bliss. The members of the family delight in one another and tenderly care for each other. The Romantics revered the common man, and held up the simple, hard-working family as the ideal family. They are kind to one another, devoted to their family, and content with their working life. Living a simple life and rejoicing in it was something the Romantics greatly valued. Shelley wanted the reader to be touched by the family and their ways.

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