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

The monster returns to his own tale in this chapter. At the end of that summer, the monster came across a leather bag which contained some clothing and several books. Delighted, the monster began to read. He learned a great deal about the nature of mankind in the books, but the most influential and jarring work for the monster was Paradise Lost . He felt a close similarity to Adam, as he was connected to no other being in the world but decided he was more similar to Satan, a fallen angel.

Amongst these books, the monster came across Victor's journal from his laboratory, documenting the monster's creation. The monster carefully studied them and learned of his horrifying beginning. Reading the journal sickened him.

The monster increasingly desired the love of the cottagers. A day came when the old blind man was alone inside the cottage. The monster knocked on the door and the old man welcomed him into the cottage. The monster said he had no relation in the world, and had been abandoned. The old man was sympathetic and told the monster to believe in the goodness of mankind. The monster tried to tell the old man that he desperately wished to be accepted by him and his family, but in that moment the others returned. Felix beat the monster until he fled the cottage.

Detailed Summary

Having told Victor the story of the cottagers, the monster returns to his own tale. He learned from the DeLaceys that mankind could be virtuous, and that the cruelties he had heard about from books could be overlooked.

At the end of that summer, the monster was out on his nightly walk, collecting food, when he came across a leather {BAG??} which contained some clothing and books. The books were Paradise Lost by John Milton, Plutarch's Lives by the Greek biographer Plutarch, and the Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Delighted, the monster began to read.

Sorrows of Young Werther enthralled and surprised him. It was full of grand emotions and gentle characters. The idea of focusing one's attentions on an object outside of one's self was appealing to the monster, as he was concentrating nearly all his energy on the DeLaceys. The sentimental Werther himself was a touching character to the monster. He loved him and didn't easily understand Werther's inclinations toward suicide and death. He wept when Werther met his end. The book caused the monster to once again ponder questions about himself and his relation to the world. He depended on nobody and nobody cared for him. Werther's death made him wonder who, if anyone, would mourn his own death.

In Plutarch's Lives , he found relief from scrutinizing his own life and read the histories of past heroes. His admiration grew toward virtuous leaders and his hatred for evil was sharpened. He was most impressed and drawn to those figures who were powerful yet peaceful in their accomplishments. He attributed his disdain for violence to the family he'd been observing for so many months. If his first experience with humans had been with soldiers, he reflected, his beliefs might have been shaped differently.

The most influential and jarring work for the monster, however, was Paradise Lost . The depiction of an all-powerful God was awe-inspiring to him. He felt a close similarity to Adam, as he was connected to no other being in the world. However, the character of Adam was good and he enjoyed certain pleasures, such as the companionship of Eve. The monster decided he was more similar to Satan, a fallen angel, because when he observed the sweetness of the DeLacey home, he was bitterly envious.

Amongst these books, the monster came across a journal. It was Victor's set of papers from his laboratory, documenting the monster's creation. The monster carefully studied them and learned of his horrifying beginning. Reading the journal sickened him. He realized that God had created Adam from his own perfection, instilling him with goodness after his own goodness. Victor, on the other hand, had created the monster from his own evil, and it showed in the monster's horrifying appearance. Again, he felt a kinship to Satan, as he felt completely alone, and despised by all.

With new enthusiasm, the monster wanted to show his self to the cottagers. He believed that once they knew how highly he regarded them, they would overlook his monstrousness. Still wishing to learn more of the language, he put off his introduction for several months.

The monster looked on with increasing jealousy and desire to have the domestic warmth he saw in the cottage. The more he understood about the cottagers and all that they enjoyed, the more like an outsider he felt. He remembered Adam's request to his creator, for a companion. The monster, feeling wretched, didn't even know who or where his creator was. He felt abandoned and he cursed Victor.

The summer passed and winter months arrived. The monster increasingly desired the love of the cottagers, and felt he needed their kindness. He believed even he could be worthy of such goodness. He finally made a plan to enter the cottage when the old man was alone. Being blind, the man would only be able to know the monster through his words, and wouldn't judge him based on his hideousness.

One day, Safie, Agatha, and Felix left for a walk and the old man remained alone inside the cottage. The monster was greatly excited, but weak with nervousness. He knocked on the door and explained to the old man that he was a traveler in need of rest. The old man welcomed him into the cottage, and observed that the monster spoke French, as he did. The monster said he was taught by a French family, though he himself had no relation in the world, and had been abandoned. The old man was sympathetic and told the monster to believe in the goodness of mankind.

The monster spoke to the old man about the cottagers in third person, as though the old man were not a part of the group to whom he was referring. He said he loved and admired a kind and noble family, and that he wished to introduce himself to them. The old man encouraged the monster, and offered his help in any way possible. The monster called himself miserable and unfortunate, and the old man commiserated, telling the monster of the family's unfair exile. The monster, moved by the old man's kindness, expressed his deep gratitude.

The old man asked the monster the names of the people that the monster wanted so desperately to meet. The monster let out choking sobs and suddenly heard the steps of the three younger cottagers outside. He grabbed the old man's hand and begged him to save and protect him. He cried out that his was the family he wished to know. In that moment, Felix, Safie and Agatha came into the cottage. Horrified, Agatha fainted and Safie ran from the cottage. Felix began beating the monster, who easily could have ripped Felix apart, but, overwhelmed with grief and sorrow, he left the cottage and ran to his hovel.

Analysis

The three literary works that the monster happens to find and read are staples for the average Romantic writer or student. In particular, Milton's Paradise Lost strikes a chord in the monster and reading it sets off a chain of questions about his own life and origin. In particular, the work makes the monster feel even more intensely friendless and alienated. He relates to Adam, having been created by a Godlike entity, yet he is shunned, and certainly his God has not provided him with a companion.

This poignant idea of being left completely alone was important to Shelley. In this chapter, the monster is an extremely sympathetic character, tormented and very lonely. The reader is supposed to feel sorry for him and wish along with him that he have a companion. It does seem to be a basic right for all creatures born into the world that they each have at least one fellow being as a friend or supporter. Having been denied this, the monster is quite pitiable.

This is another time when the reader is reminded that looks can be deceiving. The one who looks like a monster is the most pitiable and possesses a gentle nature. The one who appears a man is full of hatred and regret. Even the views about nature that each hold are telling. Victor finds solace only in natural surroundings that look punishing: ice, snow, starkly bare trees and the threat of avalanche ever present. The monster, though learning about his life and the world is troubling him, manages to be comforted by the warm pleasures of springtime in the forest.

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