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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in London in 1797 to radical philosopher, William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft, author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Wollstonecraft died 11 days after giving birth, and young Mary was educated in the intellectual circles of her father's contemporaries. In 1814, at the age of seventeen, Mary met and fell in love with poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley. She ran away with him to France and they were married in 1816 after Shelley's wife committed suicide.
Percy Shelley was a prominent poet of the Romantic Movement along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge, William Wordsworth, and Shelley's friend, Lord Byron. As his wife and companion, Mary Shelley was exposed to the same influences as her husband, and this Romanticism influenced her work. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein after Byron introduced a challenge to discern whom among the three writers --- Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Byron himself -- could write the best ghost story.
The tumultuous French Revolution, which began before her birth, but had far-reaching echoes in society and literature, as well as the Industrial Revolution of England in the 18th Century, were influences on Mary Shelley's life and work. The mass production and dehumanization of the Industrial Revolution posed a threat to the Romantic ideals of the importance of the individual, the beauty of nature, and the emotional and free spirit. Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, can be seen as a protest against this scientific revolution.
Scientific progress was a large part of this century of discovery. Darwin, a leading scientific figure with his theories of evolution, was a personal friend of Shelley's husband, so science was not an ignored topic in her life. Advances in medicine and the need for cadavers also figured into the time in which Mary Shelley lived. At this time in London grave robbing was a common occurrence because men dubbed "the resurrection men" would sell the stolen bodies to teaching hospitals so that medical students could dissect and study them. This knowledge makes the idea of Victor Frankenstein scavenging graveyards for parts seem less shocking.
Frankenstein addresses common Romantic themes of isolation and the beauty of nature, but it also deals with loss, which Mary Shelley knew a great deal about. Growing up motherless, Mary also lost her sister to suicide, as well as losing three of her own children to miscarriage and early childhood deaths. In 1822 her husband drowned in the Gulf of Spezzia, and she was left, twenty-five years old, with only one remaining son. She remained unmarried and died in London in 1851.
Although she wrote several other books, including Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), Lodore (1835), and Falkner (1837), Frankenstein is her most well known work. "The critics greeted Mary Shelley's novel with a combination of praise and disdain" (Moss and Wilson). The unorthodox studies of Frankenstein were shocking to critics, but "[d]espite the critical attacks, Frankenstein caused a literary sensation in London. The novel fit smoothly into the popular gothic genre" (Moss and Wilson). But more than just a popular culture novel, Frankenstein has lasted over time. "[T]he novel became one of the triumphs of the Romantic movement due to its themes of alienation and isolation and its warning about the destructive power that can result when human creativity is unfettered by moral and social concerns" (Moss and Wilson).
"Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft." The Bloomsbury Guide to Women's Literature. New York: Prentince Hall General Reference, 1992.
Foglesong, Marilee, ed. Lives and Works: Young Adult Authors. Vol. 7. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Educational, 1999.
Moss, Joyce, and George Wilson. Literature and Its Times: Profiles of 300 Notable Literary Works and the Historical Events that Influenced Them. Vol. 1. New York: Gale, 1997.
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Bantam Books, 1981.
Frankenstein, set in Europe in the 1790's, begins with the letters of Captain Robert Walton to his sister. These letters form the framework for the story in which Walton tells his sister the story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster as Frankenstein told it to him.
Walton set out to explore the North Pole. The ship got trapped in frozen water and the crew, watching around them, saw a giant man in the distance on a dogsled. Hours later they found Frankenstein and his dogsled near the ship, so they brought the sick man aboard. As he recovered, Frankenstein told Walton his story so that Walton would learn the price of pursuing glory at any cost.
Frankenstein grew up in a perfectly loving and gentle Swiss family with an especially close tie to his adopted cousin, Elizabeth, and his dear friend Henry Clerval. As a young boy, Frankenstein became obsessed with studying outdated theories about what gives humans their life spark. In college at Ingolstadt, he created his own "perfect" human from scavenged body parts, but once it lived, the creature was hideous. Frankenstein was disgusted by its ugliness, so he ran away from it.
Henry Clerval came to Ingolstadt to study with Frankenstein, but ended up nursing him after his exhausting and secret efforts to create a perfect human life. While Frankenstein recovered from his illness over many months and then studied languages with Clerval at the college, the monster wandered around looking for friendship. After several harsh encounters with humans, the monster became afraid of them and spent a long time living near a cottage and observing the family who lived there. Through these observations he became educated and realized that he was very different from the humans he watched. Out of loneliness, the monster sought the friendship of this family, but they were afraid of him, and this rejection made him seek vengeance against his creator. He went to Geneva and met a little boy in the woods. The monster hoped to kidnap him and keep him as a companion, but the boy was Frankenstein's younger brother, so the monster killed him to get back at his creator. Then the monster planted the necklace he removed from the child's body on a beautiful girl who was later executed for the crime.
When Frankenstein learned of his brother's death, he went back to Geneva to be with his family. In the woods where his young brother was murdered, Frankenstein saw the monster and knew that he was William's murderer. Frankenstein was ravaged by his grief and guilt for creating the monster who wreaked so much destruction, and he went into the mountains alone to find peace. Instead of peace, Frankenstein was approached by the monster who then demanded that he create a female monster to be the monster's companion. Frankenstein, fearing for his family, agreed to and went to England to do his work. Clerval accompanied Frankenstein, but they separated in Scotland and Frankenstein began his work. When he was almost finished, he changed his mind because he didn't want to be responsible for the carnage another monster could create, so he destroyed the project. The monster vowed revenge on Frankenstein's upcoming wedding night. Before Frankenstein could return home, the monster murdered Clerval.
Once home, Frankenstein married his cousin Elizabeth right away and prepared for his death, but the monster killed Elizabeth instead and the grief of her death killed Frankenstein's father. After that, Frankenstein vowed to pursue the monster and destroy him. That's how Frankenstein ended up near the North Pole where Walton's ship was trapped. A few days after Frankenstein finished his story, Walton and his crew decided to turn back and go home. Before they left, Frankenstein died and the monster appeared in his room, mourning the loss of his creator. The monster explained his reasons for vengeance to Walton, as well as his remorse. He then told Walton of his plans to head to the North Pole and burn himself to death, as death would be less painful than life. He leaped from the ship into an ice-raft and was "borne away by the waves."
Robert Walton: Indirect narrator of the story, he tells Victor Frankenstein's story through letters to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton is a self-educated man who set out to reach and explore the North Pole and find an Arctic passage to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. While his ship is locked in ice, his crew sees Frankenstein's monster pass by on a dog sled and Frankenstein himself, exhausted and weakened, not far behind. They take Frankenstein aboard and Walton nurses him and talks with him because he has been longing for a friend. In seeing Walton's raw ambition to explore the North Pole at all costs, Frankenstein is prompted to tell the story of his destruction that a similar ambition brought upon him. After Frankenstein's death and just before the ship heads back to England, Walton is also the last to see the monster before he goes north to kill himself.
Victor Frankenstein: Frankenstein is the eldest son of a wealthy, Genevese man, Alphonse, and his young wife, Caroline. Victor grows up in the perfect family with a happy childhood and a constant and devoted companion in his adopted cousin, Elizabeth. He is sensitive, intelligent, and passionate about his interests and becomes absorbed in the quest to find out what creates life. While away at college in Ingolstadt, Victor creates a being from scavenged corpse parts and gives it life, but is repulsed by its hideousness once it lives. The monster, in retaliation for Victor's negligence, destroys his life by killing off those Victor loves. Victor chases him to the far reaches of the Arctic planning to destroy him and then die to escape his misery and remorse at his creation, but he dies aboard Walton's ship before he can catch the monster.
The Monster: Created by Victor Frankenstein in Ingolstadt, the monster is a conglomeration of human parts with inhuman strength. He is so hideous that Victor, his own creator, cannot stand to look upon him. He is loving and gentle at the beginning of his life, childlike in his curiosity and experiences, but after several harsh encounters with humans, he becomes bitter. He seeks revenge on his creator for making him so hideous and rendering him permanently lonely because of his ugliness. He offers Frankenstein peace in exchange for a companion of like origin, but when Frankenstein does not comply, he vows to destroy him and begins killing off Frankenstein's friends and family -- those figures he most envies because he does not have them. After finding Frankenstein dead aboard Walton's ship, the monster goes further north with plans to destroy himself and end the suffering that Frankenstein began when he created him.
Elizabeth Lavenza: Adopted cousin of Victor Frankenstein. Elizabeth was a beautiful orphan being raised by an Italian peasant family when Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein adopted her. She became Victor's constant companion and he watched over her as if she were his own possession from their meeting when he was 5 years old. Her beauty and kindness made her adored almost reverently by all who knew her, and it was taken for granted that she and Victor would marry. She is the gentling influence and the comforter for the males of the Frankenstein family when Caroline dies, and her beauty and goodness are constant throughout her life. She and Victor are married, but on their wedding night, the monster strangles Elizabeth to punish Victor for not creating for him a companion creature.
Henry Clerval: Life-long friend of Victor Frankenstein, Henry was poetic, sensitive and caring, and their friendship was a strong one. When Victor was in Ingolstadt so long without sending word to his family, Henry relocated there to study and to look after Victor. Henry nursed him through a long period of illness before Victor returned to Geneva. Later they traveled together to England and Scotland, but while they were there, the monster strangled Henry to punish Victor. Victor was accused of the murder, but was acquitted.
Justine Moritz: Servant in the Frankenstein household, Justine was another beautiful, gentle, and kind addition to the Frankenstein family whom Caroline took in to care for and educate. When Caroline got scarlet fever, Justine nursed her, and after Caroline died, Justine returned to her own mother. Her mother too became ill and died, so Justine returned to the Frankenstein home to help raise the two sons Caroline had left when she died. Justine was a grateful and faithful part of their household, but she was accused of 5-year-old William Frankenstein's murder when a locket he had been wearing was found in her dress. Although she had been framed by the monster and was innocent, she was executed and Victor considered her death his fault because he created the monster who framed her.
Alphonse Frankenstein: Victor Frankenstein's father, Alphonse was a wealthy and benevolent man who loved his wife and his children very dearly. He rescued Caroline Beaufort, daughter of his close friend, from poverty after her father's death. He was a doting husband and father bent by the grief of loss after loss until he dies from accumulated sorrow and shock.
Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein: Wife of Alphonse and mother of Victor, Ernest, and William, Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein was the daughter of a once-wealthy friend of Alphonse. Planning to aid his friend, Alphonse found his home and went there only to find Caroline weeping over his coffin. Alphonse took her into his home and married her two years later. They had a loving relationship and cared for their children very much. She was a good, beautiful, and gentle woman adored by all her family until she died from the scarlet fever she contracted nursing Elizabeth back to health.
Mrs. Margaret Saville: Sister of Robert Walton, ship captain, Mrs. Saville is significant only because she is the recipient of the letters describing Frankenstein's story. Walton writes to her of the progress of his journey and his acquaintance with Frankenstein.
Beaufort: Friend of Alphonse Frankenstein and Caroline's father, Beaufort lost his wealth and relocated to escape the humiliation of his poverty. Caroline nursed him as his health declined and was weeping over his coffin when Alphonse found her and took her back to Geneva.
M. Waldman: Chemistry professor at Ingolstadt. His lectures revive Victor's interest in discovering the spark of life and creation.
Ernest Frankenstein: Victor's brother. Ernest is 7 years younger than Victor and is only mentioned a few times, the longest reference in a letter to Victor from Elizabeth. She mentions that Ernest wants to join the Swiss military.
William Frankenstein: Victor's youngest brother, William is sweet, happy, greatly adored by his family. William is strangled in the woods while the family was out for a walk. His is the first of the monster's victims, and Justine is framed for the murder.
De Lacey Family: Felix, Agatha, and their blind father. This is the family of cottagers near where the monster lives. They are French exiles living in Germany because Felix helped an unjustly imprisoned Turk escape. He watches them and over time learns to speak and read from observing them. The monster becomes attached to them and chops wood for them as well as other small services without revealing himself to them. He craves their acceptance and affection and educates himself further to win them over. When he seeks their affection, however, they are afraid of him and their scorn sends him away. This rejection sends him on a quest to find Victor, his creator, and seek vengeance.
Muhammadan: Turk Felix aided and for whom the De Lacey family was exiled to Germany. Muhammadan was unjustly condemned for reasons of religion and wealth, and Felix helped him escape, falling in love with Muhammadan's daughter, Safie, along the way. Muhammadan promises to allow them to marry, but plans secretly to take Safie back to Turkey with him.
Safie: Daughter of Muhammadan and Arabian Christian woman. Safie falls in love with Felix and doesn't want to return to the oppressive country of her birth. When her father leaves for Turkey with the expectation that she will follow soon after with all of his possessions, she seeks out Felix and lives with him and his family in Germany.
M. Kirwin: Irish magistrate who cares for Victor when he falls ill after being accused of Henry's murder. Kirwin is sympathetic and believes Victor is innocent, so he has a doctor care for Victor while he is imprisoned and also sends for Alphonse.
Geneva: Geneva, Switzerland. Home of the Frankenstein family where Victor grew up and to which he returned after college and the creation of the monster. The murders of William and Justine were located in the area around Geneva.
Ingolstadt: Ingolstadt, Germany. Victor went to college in Ingolstadt and created the monster in his laboratory there. This was the city of the monster's awakening.
Miniature: A locket with a picture of Caroline Frankenstein. William borrowed this from Elizabeth just before he was murdered and the miniature was missing when they found his body, so it was assumed that a thief murdered him for the necklace, but the monster had taken it because the picture of Caroline was beautiful. He planted the miniature on Justine so that she would be blamed for the crime. This piece of evidence, which she could not explain, condemned her to death.
Mont Blanc: A mountain near Geneva. This mountain is referred to again and again in descriptions of scenery throughout the novel. It carries weight as a mark of Romanticism because it is the subject of a famous poem by Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley's husband.
Orkney Islands: Orkney Islands, Scotland. Victor stays in a hut on one of the sparsely populated Orkney Islands to create a second creature to be a companion to the monster.
The Monster's Companion: The monster demanded that Victor create a second, female monster to act as a companion to the first, or he would be destroyed by the monster's vengeance. Victor agrees reluctantly, but when he is almost finished with the second creature, he realizes the horrific repercussions of creating another monster and destroys his work. This sparks the killing spree and ensuing chase that ends Victor's and the monster's lives.
North Pole: Destination of Robert Walton and his ship as well as the monster and Victor. Walton is bound for the North Pole to explore in the hopes of uncovering secrets of the earth and gaining glory for his discovery. Victor is following the monster to the North Pole to destroy him or die trying, and they meet while Walton's ship is trapped in ice. Walton and Victor never make it to the North Pole because Walton's men want to turn back for England and Victor dies. The monster, however, is last seen on his way to the furthest point north to destroy himself so that none will know of his hideous existence.
Chamounix: Frankenstein traveled to Chamounix to escape his guilt and depression, but while he was in Chamounix, the monster approached him about creating a female monster companion for him. The monster lived in an ice cave not far from Chamounix.
Quote 1: "I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection." Letter 2, pg. 4
Quote 2: "we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves -- such a friend ought to be -- do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures." Letter 4, pg. 14
Quote 3: "The world was to [him] a secret which [he] desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to [him], are among the earliest sensations [he] can remember . . . It was the secrets of heaven and earth that [he] desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied [him], still [his] inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in it highest sense, the physical secrets of the world." Chapter 2, pg. 22-3
Quote 4: "'The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.'" Chapter 3, pg. 34
Quote 5: "Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." Chapter 4, pg. 38
Quote 6: "For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." Chapter 5, pg. 42
Quote 7: "[a] flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom [he] had given life." Chapter 7, pg. 60
Quote 8: "[He] beheld those [he] loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to [his] unhallowed arts." Chapter 8, pg. 73
Quote 9: "'All men hate the wretched; how then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, they creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.'" Chapter 10, pg. 83
Quote 10: "'When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, the, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?'" Chapter 13, pg. 105
Quote 11: "'from that moment [he] declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against [Frankenstein] who had formed [him] and sent [him] forth to this insupportable misery.'" Chapter 16, pg. 121
Quote 12: "'I am alone and miserable: man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.'" Chapter 16, pg. 129
Quote 13: "'If [he] ha[s] no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be [his] portion....[his] vices are the children of a forced solitude that [he] abhor[s], and [his] virtues will necessarily arise when [he] live[s] in communion with an equal.'" Chapter 17, pg. 132-3
Quote 14: "'You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains -- revenge, henceforth dearer than light of food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery.'" Chapter 20, pg. 153
Quote 15: "The cup of life was poisoned forever, and although the sun shone upon [him], as upon the happy and gay of heart, [he] saw around [him] nothing but a dense and frightful darkness, penetrated by no light but the glimmer of two eyes that glared upon [him]." Chapter 21, pg. 166
Quote 16: "Great God! If for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth than have consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I thought that I had prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim." Chapter 22, pg. 174-5
Quote 17: "As [he] heard it, the whole truth rushed into [his] mind, [his] arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; [he] could feel the blood trickling in his veins and tingling in the extremities of [his] limbs." Chapter 23, pg. 177
Quote 18: "'All [his] speculations and hopes are as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, [he] [is] chained in an eternal hell.'" Chapter 24, pg. 194
Quote 19: "'Oh! Be men, or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes and firm as a rock. This ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts may be; it is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not. Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked on your brows. Return as heroes who have fought and conquered and who know not what it is to turn their backs on the foe.'" Chapter 24, pg. 198
Quote 20: "'In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being . . . I refused, and I did right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature. He showed unparalleled malignity and selfishness in evil; he destroyed my friends . . . Miserable himself that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.'" Chapter 24, pg. 199-200
Quote 21: "'Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries.'" Chapter 24, pg. 200
Friendship 1: Friendship is important throughout the novel because it is the goal of Walton, the narrator, as well as the monster Frankenstein created. Loneliness and isolation are major themes throughout Romantic literature, and in this novel they motivate the monster to turn to destruction. Walton longs for a friend to share his excitement over the voyage to the North Pole. He is separated from his sister, whom he may never see again, and he has no one to buoy his courage or steady his heady excitement. Friendless in the cold, white blankness of Archangel, and preparing to sail into the vast and unknown frozen arctic, seems a desolate situation for Walton.
Friendship 2: When Walton meets Frankenstein, he sees in him the potential for the kind of friendship that Walton desires. Frankenstein is intelligent, passionate, and sensitive despite the tragedy that surrounds him; the kind of friend Walton could talk to about his fears and aspirations. But Frankenstein is so weakened by exhaustion and misery that Walton doesn't want to disturb him.
Friendship 3: As Frankenstein grows stronger, Walton sees the potential for a meaningful friendship growing, but he doesn't understand that Frankenstein has lost a lifetime of friends due to their connection to him. Walton talks of sharing his enthusiasm with a friend, hoping Frankenstein will be that friend, but it is not meant to be. While Frankenstein agrees with Walton concerning the importance of friendship, he tells Walton that he has lost all the people in the world whom he cared about and wishes to form no other ties of affection.
Friendship 4: Elizabeth and Frankenstein were the closest of friends, and it was their relationship that made them perfect because they balanced each other out. Henry was Frankenstein's only close friend outside the family because Frankenstein preferred to know a small group of people well rather than many people only slightly. With these two friends, Frankenstein was completely happy. Both Henry and Elizabeth seemed to be extensions of Frankenstein himself, and combined, they made a perfect whole. Frankenstein was the scientific and mechanical part, while Henry was the literary part; Elizabeth was the soothing, gentle, feminine influence that balanced out the literary and scientific passion. These friendships not only complemented each other's lives, but they were also an integral part of their lives, especially Frankenstein and Elizabeth.
Friendship 5: Although Elizabeth and Frankenstein were so close to one another, even her presence didn't ease his agitation and depression. The power of his guilt and remorse was so strong that even the brighter part of himself, Elizabeth, was incapable of cheering Frankenstein or relieving his distress. It seems odd that a friend so close to him couldn't help him, but she wasn't informed of the burden he bore. Had she known what was disturbing Frankenstein, perhaps she could have found a way to help him. But he was alone in his misery, isolated by his own horrific error.
Friendship 6: The monster explained to Frankenstein that had no friends and was lonely and his quest in life was for companionship and understanding. It was his loneliness that made him savage. The monster wanted what Frankenstein and so many other humans had and took for granted -- a place to belong. He had seen a family who loved each other and realized what he was missing. He had no one to comfort him, support him, or love him, and he felt that absence strongly. Loneliness recurs as a theme throughout the monster's existence.
Friendship 7: The monster desired the friendship of the De Lacey family and went about seeking ways to gain it by doing small chores for them anonymously and educating himself so that they would see past his horrid face. He watched their family together and saw the way they loved each other. He hoped they had enough charity in their hearts for him because he was a singular creature with no home or family, a being alone in the world. He wasn't an emotionless beast indifferent to his solitary state. He was sensitive and very aware of the isolation he experienced, so he wanted to reach out to the De Lacey family to end his loneliness.
Friendship 8: The monster, feeling quite alone in the world because he realized that he was the only monster like himself in existence, longed even more for the friendship of the De Lacey family. He began to plan a way to win them over because failure would break his heart. He knew the family to be kind, gentle, and accepting, so he expected that he could win them over and end the wretched loneliness that had been forced upon him by his creator. Frankenstein was the reason the monster was lonely because he had created him as the only one of his kind and then abandoned him. The De Lacey family was the monster's chance for love.
Friendship 9: The De Lacey family was too afraid of him to befriend him, so the monster was rejected by a family he had come to care for. Frankenstein was responsible for his state of isolation, and the monster planned to make him pay for his insensitivity. He was angry and vengeful, so he sought out Frankenstein.
Friendship 10: The monster planned to kidnap William and keep him as a companion because he believed that the fears and cruelty of the rest of humanity had not yet prejudiced a child so young. When he learned that William was Frankenstein's brother, however, the prospect of revenge seemed better than keeping the boy as a companion. His desire for revenge took greater precedence over his desire for companionship. The anger and vengeance he exhibited in killing William were a result of the loneliness and rejection the monster had been subject to throughout his life.
Friendship 11: The monster demanded that Frankenstein construct a female companion for him so that he wouldn't be miserable and friendless anymore. Frankenstein didn't want to leave the monster lonely, but over time decided that he couldn't create the monster. Frankenstein willingly condemned the monster to a life of loneliness and isolation with his refusal to create a companion. But the monster didn't wallow in his loneliness because revenge became his focus. Because the monster could never be happy, he vowed to make Frankenstein miserable as well. Their battle caused the destruction of Frankenstein's family and friends before it eventually killed him, too.
Glory 1: The quest for glory is a potentially fatal flaw in Walton and was the downfall of Frankenstein. Their desire to discover or create and be great among men makes them reckless and dangerous to those around them. Robert Walton seeks glory and knowledge from his expedition to the North Pole. He is fascinated by what he might learn there, but seems to be driven more by the thirst for recognition and accomplishment than just the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. As the leader of an expedition, he will be responsible for the lives of other men, and if he is ruthless in his pursuit of glory, he will endanger those men. The thirst for recognition and glory leaves no room for rational perceptions of what is possible and what is impossible. It's a dangerous pursuit.
Glory 2: Although Walton finds himself lonely and friendless, he is still passionate about his quest for glory and discovery at the North Pole, but he wishes he had a friend to share the excitement with. Loneliness be damned, he is going to reach his goal and be remembered as the man who made fascinating and helpful discoveries about the secrets of the North Pole. He has no one to temper his lofty ambitions with rational thought about the probability of making it to the North Pole, the danger of going there, and the responsibility he will have as captain for the life of his crew. He is all enthusiasm and no sense.
Glory 3: Walton and his men have started their journey, and he's certain that they will succeed because his men have taken care of a few, small problems that sprang up so far. Because they managed to patch up a small leak without sinking the ship, he believes they can navigate through icebergs, frozen waters, and other unknown hazards of the North Pole. He becomes cocky and believes that the sheer force of his will to succeed can defeat even the obstacles of nature.
Glory 4: When Walton mentions his determination to Frankenstein, Frankenstein seems distraught at Walton's ambition. He plans to succeed even at the cost of human life because he considers his potential discoveries worth such a sacrifice, and Frankenstein recognizes this raw ambition as the same thing that led to the destruction of his family and himself. This was the same ambition that drove Frankenstein to exhaust himself night after night in his laboratory creating the monster that, when completed, was hideous. This ambition is like a madness that blinds men to the dangers of their actions. Frankenstein couldn't see the horror of what he was doing until it was too late, and if Walton doesn't learn to temper his ambition with consideration of his responsibilities to his crew, he's going to get them all killed.
Glory 5: Frankenstein decides to tell Walton his horrible story in the hopes of dissuading Walton from being so determined to achieve glory and recognition that he destroys himself and others in the process as Frankenstein did when he created his monster.
Glory 6: Frankenstein's own quest for glory began with the study of outdated theories on the source of life and how to create a human being invincible to all but a violent death. His passion for the subject was all consuming, but for a brief while he abandoned his studies and found himself a happier person. But that didn't last too long. His desire for glory was merely latent, waiting for the perfect moment to spring up and take over like a disease and consume him until he was blind to all but his thirst for achievement.
Glory 7: At college in Ingolstadt, Frankenstein's interest in the spark of life was renewed by his studies in chemistry, and the desire for glory flared up in him again. This desire for glory prompted many rational and acceptable recognition for improvements on the instruments of chemistry, but all that was preliminary to his ultimate goal, which was to create a human life with his own hands.
Glory 8: After Frankenstein discovered the source of human life power, he became wholly absorbed in his experimental creation of a human being.. This drive for success blinded him to the vulgarity and repulsiveness of harvesting body parts from corpses and reconstructing them in a laboratory. It blinded him to the dangers of his project because all he could see was his goal of achievement and not the repercussions of his actions.
Glory 9: The search for glory left Frankenstein cold when he thought about the hideousness of the monster he created. He left that field of study and the quest for recognition because he was so disgusted with his results. Finally out of the clutches of his impassioned ambition, Frankenstein could see the danger of his desire for glory. He realized the way that it took over his life and blinded him to the pitfalls and terrors of the actions to which his ambition drove him.
Glory 10: When Walton's men are too afraid to continue to the North Pole, Frankenstein gives them a scathing lecture on bravery and determination necessary for glory, but it does no good. The men would rather live than be glorious in death. Walton gives in to their fears and decides to go home although he would rather have glory than life. Frankenstein's story at least brought to light the importance of considering the welfare of others in the quest for glory. Walton did not continue on when so many of his crew were against losing their lives, as they most certainly would have if they had traveled on toward the North Pole. Walton learned to temper his own desire for glory to protect those for whom he was responsible, a lesson Frankenstein didn't learn until it was too late.
Nature 1: Natural beauty is often a soothing influence with the characters of the novel, particularly Frankenstein, and it is an important part of the Romantic influence. This appreciation of beauty in a novel so filled with brutality seems an odd contrast, but it is part of what makes this story a Romantic piece.
As Robert Walton prepares for his journey to the North Pole, the beauty of nature in St. Petersburg impresses him because he believes it is a hint of how glorious the North Pole will be. His excitement is heightened by the brisk and picturesque world around him, and in that way nature plays an important part in his journey to the North Pole.
Nature 2: Walton describes Frankenstein as completely broken-down by grief, but still able to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around him, which seems remarkable. A man destroyed by sorrow can still look up at the night sky and feel some sense of relief, happiness, or awe at the fabulous beauty that surrounds him. The grandeur of nature overwhelms human emotion and makes it seem small and insignificant in comparison to the great beauty of the world.
Nature 3: Frankenstein was anxious about the changes in his homeland since he had been away for six years, so he spent a few days resting in a small town and letting the landscape of his country ease his worry. The familiar mountains, which seemed timeless when compared to the span of human life, calmed his worries. Nature makes us feel small and unimportant because we last such a short time in comparison to the mountains, rivers, and trees around us, so whatever we are experiencing must be miniscule as well.
Nature 4: Frankenstein, so distraught by his responsibility for William and Justine's deaths, often went out onto the lake near his home after his family was asleep. The lake was so lovely that he often wanted to dive into it and let it wash over him forever. He wanted to become a part of nature that was beautiful and calm instead of being what he was, a man riddled with guilt and fear.
Nature 5: On his day trip to a mountaintop near Chamounix, the beauty of the landscape around him impressed Frankenstein and it eased his depression for a while. He looked at the majestic mountains, their size and strength, and felt revived. Nature once again overwhelmed his senses and manipulated his emotions with its beauty.
Nature 6: When the monster told his story to Frankenstein, he talked about appreciating the beauty of nature early on in his life experience. He enjoyed the birdsong and the beauty of the forest before he encountered humanity and he was happy. Nature itself, before he even knew what it was, made the monster happy.
Nature 7: The monster's first spring was lively and beautiful to him. It lifted his spirits and eased his loneliness because the world around him was so lovely. He was lonely, but he wasn't completely unhappy because nature soothed his spirits with blossoms and birdsong.
Nature 8: After the De Lacey's chased him away and he was shot while saving a woman from drowning, the monster no longer took comfort in the natural beauty of the world because humanity made it ugly for him. The imperfection of human beings marred the glory of nature.
Nature 9: Traveling along the Rhine on their way to England, Henry and Frankenstein were both impressed by the beauty of their surroundings. It seemed that Henry was more affected by the scenery than was Frankenstein. Frankenstein remembered Henry's passion for natural beauty as one of the more tender and wonderful aspects of his dear friend. Henry's character may possess qualities of Lord Byron, who was a Romantic poet as well as a friend of Mary Shelley and her husband.
Nature 10: On their honeymoon trip to Evian, Elizabeth seemed sad, so she tried to cheer herself with the beauty of their surroundings, but to no avail. As if she had some premonition of her approaching death, the beauty of the earth could not cheer Elizabeth that day. As powerful as nature's influence is, Elizabeth was unmoved by the things around her because Death cast a shadow over the scenery.
Responsibility 1: Elizabeth felt responsible for William's murder because she loaned him the locket that was presumed to be the motive for the murder. Her feeling of responsibility was so great that it manifested itself in physical illness. Throughout the story Elizabeth, and even more so Frankenstein, have a sense of responsibility for things that they did not directly cause.
Responsibility 2: Frankenstein felt responsible for his younger brother's death when he realized that the monster he created murdered William. Frankenstein started to feel as if he himself had committed the murder because of his role in the monster's existence. Everything the monster did was Frankenstein's fault because he was the creator. Rather than blame the monster for his downfall, Frankenstein blamed himself because he created the monster's life.
Responsibility 3: Frankenstein felt as if he murdered Justine as well as William because she was executed for a crime the monster committed. Elizabeth was altered by the injustice of Justine's death, and Frankenstein felt responsible for that alteration as well. The chain of events that the monster set off with William's murder began not with the monster, but with Frankenstein's desire to create life.
Responsibility 4: The weight of remorse about his role in the deaths of William and Justine adversely affected Frankenstein's mental and physical health. His responsibility for their deaths and whatever other destruction the monster may have wreaked on humanity overwhelmed him.
Responsibility 5: When the monster came to Frankenstein to plead his case and tell his story, Frankenstein realized that he had some obligation to the monster because he created it, in the same way that he bore responsibility for the monster's actions. Frankenstein was no longer simply responsible to humanity for the monster's actions, but he was also responsible to the monster for his happiness. Being the creator of a life was more responsibility than Frankenstein planned for.
Responsibility 6: The monster called upon Frankenstein to fulfill his obligation of providing for his happiness by creating a female companion to keep him company. Out of his sense of obligation to his creation and out of fear for his family, Frankenstein agreed to make the female monster. His responsibility to his creation carried greater weight than the idea of his responsibility to humanity for the actions of the original monster and the new one he agreed to create. He hadn't yet realized the full weight of responsibility he would bear for the actions of both monsters.
Responsibility 7: Before Frankenstein could marry Elizabeth, he had to complete his obligation to the monster so that he could be completely rid of him and the responsibility for his actions. As a result, Frankenstein postponed the wedding and took a trip to England to work without the danger of being discovered by his family. His obligation to the monster was not only to ensure the monster's happiness, which Frankenstein felt obliged to do as the monster's creator, but also as a way to protect his family from the monster's vengeance.
Responsibility 8: Before he completed the female monster, Frankenstein realized the weight of responsibility he would bear if together the two monsters destroyed any other human life or reproduced, and the thought was just too much to bear. Rather than deal with the responsibility for two hideous, superhuman creatures, Frankenstein would rather deal with the wrath of one, so he destroyed his work on the female monster. So began the battle between Frankenstein and the monster.
Responsibility 9: Frankenstein was responsible for Henry's death at the hands of the monster, and this grief rendered him ill for a long time. Frankenstein is once again in the position he found himself with William and Justine's deaths. He didn't murder Henry, but his friendship with Frankenstein made Henry susceptible to the monster's wrath because he used Henry to get back at Frankenstein. Although the Irish magistrate acquitted him, Frankenstein knew that he was responsible for Henry's death because he had defied the monster's wishes and the monster repaid him by killing his friend.
Responsibility 10: Frankenstein, feeling responsible for Elizabeth's death as well as his father's, vowed vengeance. The only way to absolve his responsibility for the monster's actions was to kill him, so that's what Frankenstein set out to do. He was responsible for the monster's creation and its actions, and he planned to be responsible for the monster's destruction as well.
December 11th, 17--: Robert Walton writes to his sister, Mrs. Margaret Saville, about his excitement at the prospect of his upcoming voyage to the North Pole. Knowledge and glory are the goals of his expedition. He outlines his plan to leave St. Petersburg, Russia for Archangel. Once there, he will hire a ship and crew and leave for the north in June.
Topic Tracking: Glory 1
Topic Tracking: Nature 1
March 28th, 17--: In Archangel, Walton finds a ship and gathers men to sail with him. While he is close to starting out for his dream, he realizes that he is missing something. He writes to his sister:
"I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection." Letter 2, pg. 4
Although Walton is lonely, he is still passionate about his voyage.
Topic Tracking: Glory 2
Topic Tracking: Friendship 1
July 7th, 17--: Walton sails out and feels optimistic about the success of his journey because all incidents up to that point had been handled with relative ease. In his mind, success seems definite.
Topic Tracking: Glory 3
August 5th, 17--: Walton explains that his letters will become a record of his conversations with Victor Frankenstein, the Swiss man Walton's crew rescued from the frozen Arctic waters a week prior. When the ship became iced in, the crew witnessed a large man in the distance riding a dogsled across the frozen ocean. Some time later, Frankenstein appeared and they brought him aboard the ship. Frankenstein, sick and weakened by the cold, stayed on the ship while Walton nursed him. Walton writes that Frankenstein seems broken by grief and interested only in the giant man who traveled past the ship. Walton is curious about Frankenstein and believes that if the men had met before Frankenstein was broken down, they would have been great friends, the kind of friend Walton longs for in his earlier letter.
Topic Tracking: Friendship 2
August 13th, 17--: Walton talks to Frankenstein about his voyage to the North Pole. He explains his desire to see and explore the North Pole at any cost, even the cost of human life. Frankenstein seems dismayed to hear of Walton's reckless ambition and it upsets him so much that Walton drops the subject. After a while, Frankenstein asks Walton about his life, and Walton mentions the lack of any close friend to share his ups and downs. In agreement, Frankenstein says, "'we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves -- such a friend ought to be -- do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.'" Letter 4, pg. 14 Although he agrees that friendship is an important part of life and happiness, Frankenstein says that he can form no such ties because he has lost everyone he cares about and can't start over. Their conversation ends, but Walton finds Frankenstein to be an incredible person because despite his obvious loss and sadness, Frankenstein still seems to appreciate the natural beauty of the world around him.
Topic Tracking: Glory 4
Topic Tracking: Friendship 3
Topic Tracking: Nature 2
August 19th, 17--: Frankenstein decides to tell Walton his story in the hopes that he can learn some lesson from the mistakes that have led to Frankenstein's ruin.
Topic Tracking: Glory 5
Frankenstein tells Walton about his Genevese origins. Frankenstein describes how his father, Alphonse Frankenstein, was a wealthy, respected and benevolent man who rescued his mother, Caroline from poverty before marrying her. She was the daughter of Beaufort, Alphonse's friend who lost his fortune and relocated to escape the shame of his poverty. Alphonse traveled to Beaufort and his daughter with the intention of offering assistance, but when he arrived at their home, Beaufort was dead and Caroline was left impoverished and alone. Alphonse took her back to Geneva with him and married her two years later. Although much younger than her husband, Caroline loved him dearly and he doted on her, so their relationship was a happy, loving one. Victor, their first son, was born as they traveled through Italy, and although Caroline wanted a daughter, she had not conceived again by the time that Victor was five. On a walk through the Italian countryside where Caroline visited the poor, she found a beautiful orphan girl being raised by a peasant family. Elizabeth Lavenza, the fair-haired, lovely orphan child, was adopted by the Frankenstein family, and Victor considered it his job to care for Elizabeth. The two became inseparable from that moment.
Frankenstein describes the perfect serenity of his childhood with his family, which grew to include two younger brothers as time passed. Elizabeth was his perfect complement and constant companion. Frankenstein was the kind of person who attached himself intensely to only a few people, and Elizabeth and Henry Clerval, a schoolmate, were his closest friends.
Topic Tracking: Friendship 4
At 13 Frankenstein became interested in the spark of life and studied theories of the creation of human life that, unbeknownst to him, were outdated. He explains that,
"The world was to [him] a secret which [he] desired to divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to [him], are among the earliest sensations [he] can remember....It was the secrets of heaven and earth that [he] desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied [him], still [his] inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or in it highest sense, the physical secrets of the world." Chapter 2, pg. 22-3
He became absorbed in these studies until he saw lightning completely decimate a tree, and then he learned theories of electricity and galvanization (using electricity to give life to inanimate matter) from a guest at their home. Frankenstein abandoned his earlier, intense line of study and became a happier person. Destiny, however, had other plans for him.
Topic Tracking: Glory 6
When he was 17, Frankenstein was scheduled to leave for Ingolstadt for college when Elizabeth got scarlet fever. As she was recovering, Caroline, who had been nursing Elizabeth, fell ill. On her deathbed, Caroline told Frankenstein and Elizabeth that she wanted them to marry. After a grieving period, during which Elizabeth was a great comfort despite her own sadness, Frankenstein left for Ingolstadt. Henry wanted to go with him, but his father wouldn't allow it. Frankenstein was nervous about being alone and away from everyone he knew and loved, but once there, he found his niche within the science department. A chemistry professor, M. Waldman, befriended him, and Frankenstein became devoted to the study of human creation and the spark of life that he had abandoned earlier. Waldman assured him that, "'The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.'" Chapter 3, pg. 34 M. Waldman was horribly wrong.
Topic Tracking: Glory 7
Frankenstein became an ardent student of chemistry and anatomy in his quest to determine what gives life. After two years of study at Ingolstadt, he considered returning home because his studies were so advanced that he couldn't progress any further at the college. But before he planned his trip home, Frankenstein discovered the essence of life, which he refuses to reveal to Walton because he doesn't want Walton to follow his poor example. He said,
"Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." Chapter 4, pg. 38
After Frankenstein figured out what gives life, he experimented with creating a human being. He constructed a giant man, 8 feet tall with superhuman strength and endurance, from harvested body parts that he took from corpses. He worked secretly and without rest for almost a year, during which time his correspondence with his family and friends stopped. His health began to decline from the constant labor, little rest, poor diet, and lack of exercise, but he refused to stop working until his project was finished.
Topic Tracking: Glory 8
One rainy, autumn night, Frankenstein brought his creation to life and all his illusions of grandeur were dashed by the hideousness of the beast. He had constructed the monster in perfect proportion with parts he considered beautiful, but the end result was horrific. His perfect creation was a frightening disaster. "For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." Chapter 5, pg. 42 Frankenstein fled his laboratory and collapsed in his room. He woke from a nightmare to see the monster standing over him, smiling with his hideous, black lips. Frankenstein ran away out into the city and walked until dawn. He ran into Henry in the city and was so excited to see his friend that he forgot about the monster that he had created until they returned to his apartment. The creature was gone, and Frankenstein was relieved, but as he and Henry talked, Frankenstein's fatigue and poor health prompted hallucinations of the monster. Frankenstein collapsed into a fever that left him bedridden for several months, during which Henry cared for him. In the throes of his illness, Frankenstein rambled on about the monster, but Henry chalked it up to the fever. He never asked Frankenstein what had happened, and he covered up the severity of Frankenstein's illness when he wrote to the Frankenstein family. When Frankenstein began to recover, Henry gave him a letter from Elizabeth.
In her letter, Elizabeth begged for a letter from Frankenstein himself to assure his family that he was well. Her letter also provided a long description of the hardships of Justine Moritz, a servant who had become very close to Caroline and Elizabeth in her time with the Frankenstein family. Justine had come to live with the Frankenstein family years before when Caroline saw how Justine's mother mistreated her. She grew close to Caroline and nursed her during her illness. After Caroline's death, Justine went home to her mother, but rejoined the Frankenstein household as a beloved part of the family after her own mother died.
Frankenstein wrote to his family to reassure them of his health and then spent some time introducing Henry to professors at the college because he was going to begin studying there. Frankenstein avoided his scientific studies because it reminded him of his disastrous experiment. He planned to go home, but his trip was postponed several months, so to pass the time before he left, Frankenstein and Henry went on a tour of Ingolstadt.
Topic Tracking: Glory 9
When Frankenstein and his friend, Henry Clerval, returned from their tour of the woodlands around Ingolstadt, there was a letter for Frankenstein from his father. In the letter, Alphonse explained to Frankenstein the circumstances of his five-year-old brother, William's, murder. The family was walking in the woods near their Geneva home when William disappeared. After a night spent searching for him, Alphonse found his strangled body. Elizabeth was distressed because she had loaned the boy a miniature, or locket of Caroline, William's dead mother, and it was no longer around his neck. The locket seemed the motive for the boy's murder, and Elizabeth felt responsible.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 1
Frankenstein left for Geneva immediately to comfort and grieve with his family. Returning to his hometown after six years made him nervous and afraid of the changes that had taken place there, so he stopped for a few days before he got to Geneva and let the landscape of his native country soothe his fears. He reached Geneva just after the city gates were closed, so he was forced to spend the night in a small town nearby. Unable to sleep, Frankenstein walked to the spot where William was murdered and watched a storm approach over the mountains. In the fury of the storm,
"A flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom [he] had given life." Chapter 7, pg. 60
The monster ran away and climbed the sheer rock face of a mountain with incredible speed and agility before Frankenstein could stop him. Frankenstein knew that the monster was William's murderer and realized with horror the evil he had released into the world. Frankenstein himself was William's murderer because he created the fiend that killed him. Frankenstein realized that he couldn't tell anyone that the monster murdered William because no one would believe him. And even if they did believe him, who would be able to catch the monster? He decided to keep quiet about what he knew, but when he got home, he learned that Justine, their servant and friend, had been accused of the murder because another servant had found the missing locket in Justine's dress. Elizabeth believed Justine was innocent, but the rest of the family wasn't sure what to think. Frankenstein was the only one who knew the truth, and he was distraught.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 2
Topic Tracking: Nature 3
At her trial, Justine could explain away all the evidence against her except for the locket. Frankenstein knew the monster planted it on her to frame her for William's death. Elizabeth, convinced of her friend's innocence, pleaded to the jury. Frankenstein also made an appeal, but Justine was convicted and executed. Frankenstein had two deaths on his conscience and Elizabeth was inconsolable. Frankenstein knew then that it was only the beginning of their sorrow and he was responsible for all of it but unaware of how to prevent it. "[He] beheld those [he] loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to [his] unhallowed arts." Chapter 8, pg. 73
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 3
Frankenstein's agitation over his role in the deaths of William and Justine impaired his mental state and became obvious in his haggard appearance and antisocial tendencies. He spent much time alone on the lake after his family had gone to bed and contemplated drowning himself. His father believed the distraction to be grief, but Frankenstein couldn't get over his melancholy because he felt responsible not only for the deaths of William and Justine, but also for the grief that weakened his father's health and the drastic alteration in Elizabeth's nature. She was somber and dark, where before she was radiant and bright. Elizabeth also noted despair and vengeance in Frankenstein's manner, and she tried to comfort him with her friendship, but sometimes his anguish and fear concerning the monster was so strong that he had to leave his home to escape. His family and friends couldn't ease his mind because they didn't know the source of his trouble. They had no idea about the monster, and he couldn't tell them, so he had to handle his anguish alone. He embarked on a trip to Chamounix to escape again.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 4
Topic Tracking: Nature 4
Topic Tracking: Friendship 5
While on a day trip to the top of a mountain, the monster approached Frankenstein. Ready to fight to the death, Frankenstein cursed the monster, but the monster asked Frankenstein to hear him out. He claimed to be a virtuous creature until the scorn of humans made him miserable and lonely. The monster said:
"'All men hate the wretched; how then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.'" Chapter 10, pg. 83
Frankenstein still refused to listen, and the monster told him that as his creator, Frankenstein owed it to him to hear his story and meet his demands. If Frankenstein would meet the demands, the monster vowed to withdraw from humanity and leave Frankenstein in peace. If he refused the monster's offer, however, the monster vowed to destroy Frankenstein's family. Out of a small sense of compassion and even greater curiosity, Frankenstein agreed to listen and accompanied the monster to his ice cave in the mountains.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 5
Topic Tracking: Nature 5
Topic Tracking: Friendship 6
The monster told Frankenstein about the development of his senses after he awoke in the laboratory. He was unable to differentiate between the five senses or determine the sources of light and darkness when he blinked. His vision took several days to come into focus, the way it takes time for infants' eyes to adjust. When he escaped from the laboratory, he wandered around the forest near Ingolstadt living on raw berries and nuts until he discovered the flickering remnants of some traveler's fire. He learned of the warmth and utility of fire as well as the danger of it (which he figured out when he stuck his hand in the flames and burned it), but the source of the fire eluded him. Because he was uncertain how to start a fire, he kept it burning continuously so that he could use it to keep warm and to cook the nuts he found. The sound of his own voice when he imitated the birds around him frightened him. The monster was forced to relocate when the food supply dwindled. As he wandered, snow fell and he sought shelter in a shepherd's cottage. When he entered the cottage, the man ran away screaming in fear at the hideousness of the monster. The monster, having never seen himself, didn't understand the reaction. He stayed in the cottage, which fascinated him because it was the first shelter he'd ever been in. After he ate the food and rested, he wandered away again and came upon a village. He sought shelter there and was chased away by the frightened villagers who threw rocks at him.
Topic Tracking: Nature 6
This hostile reception made him afraid of people, so when he found another cottage off in the forest, he just hid in a shed near the house and watched the De Lacey family -- Agatha, Felix, and their blind father -- through a small hole in a covered window. He heard music for the first time when the father played his guitar. The monster even experienced the sympathetic emotions of sadness and joy while he watched them, but he didn't know what those feelings were. Watching them made him happy, but the monster didn't want the family to know he was there.
Over time, as the monster watched the De Lacey family, he learned that they were sad because they were poor, and although all seemed a little disheartened, Felix, the boy, seemed the saddest for some unknown reason. The monster began chopping wood and shoveling the snow from the path while they slept so that they could use the daylight hours for the garden and other, more productive, work. The family considered the anonymous favors the work of a good spirit. Studying them, the monster learned to recognize words like "milk," "cheese," and "bread," as well as learning the cottagers' names. He realized that when Felix read aloud in the evenings, he was really looking at symbols that stood for words. The monster wanted to be able to understand and communicate. He wanted to master language before he revealed himself to the De Lacey family because he had discovered his ugliness in the reflection of a stream, and he knew it would scare them if he couldn't talk to them. After seeing their beauty and his hideousness, the monster was saddened, but he believed that if he could talk to them, they wouldn't hate and fear him as other humans had. He expected to be able to win their love.
Topic Tracking: Friendship 7
Spring blossomed around the monster and the De Lacey family's cottage, but Felix, the son, seemed sadder than before until a dark and beautiful woman came to the cottage. Safie, the Arabian woman, spoke no French, their language, but was as in love with Felix, and he was in love with her. The family welcomed her and taught her to speak French, and the monster learned along with her. He became able to understand their conversations and the nightly readings of history so that he grew more educated concerning humanity and the world. In learning about humanity, he noted his separation from them. "'When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?'" Chapter 13, pg. 105 The more he learned, the worse he felt. He had no idea where he came from or how he came into existence. These unanswered questions made the monster increasingly more lonely.
Topic Tracking: Friendship 8
Topic Tracking: Nature 7
Having gained the ability to understand language and even read, the monster learned the history of the cottagers and the Arabian woman. He offered Frankenstein copies of the letters of Felix and Safie as proof of his honesty. At one time, De Lacey, the old man, was a wealthy Parisian, until Felix learned of the unjust imprisonment of Muhammadan, Safie's father. Felix set out to free the man condemned for his religion and wealth, and that's how he met Safie and fell in love with her. Muhammadan, uncertain of Felix's loyalty to his cause, promised Safie's hand in marriage upon his escape from prison to ensure that Felix wouldn't forget about him. Felix, expecting to marry Safie, waited with Muhammadan in Italy until the escaped prisoner could get to Turkey safely. Safie did not want to return to Turkey because of the restrictions on the religion and society of women there. Her late mother, a Christian Arab freed from slavery by marriage to Muhammadan, had taught Safie independence and she wanted to stay in France with Felix, but her father had other plans. Muhammadan wanted Safie to return with him, but he kept his plans a secret so that Felix wouldn't turn him over to the French government.
Meanwhile, the French government discovered the De Lacey's connection with Muhammadan's escape, and De Lacey and Agatha were imprisoned. Felix heard the news and returned home immediately expecting that Muhammadan would leave for Turkey as soon as he could, but that Safie would wait in Italy for Felix to come back for her. When Felix and his family were exiled to Germany, Muhammadan told Safie to forget Felix, and then, fearing he would soon be discovered, he left for Turkey. Safie was to wait in Italy to gather his possessions and then travel to Turkey, but she left for Germany to find Felix instead.
Shortly after learning the De Lacey's story, the monster found a bag with books and clothes in the forest. He read The Sorrows of Werter, Paradise Lost, and Plutarch's Lives to further his education, and this reading only seemed to emphasize his wretchedness. He also found Frankenstein's journal in the pocket of a coat he had stolen from the laboratory the night he awoke and escaped. He read the catalog of his creation and was disgusted with the monstrosity of his own origins. Desperately lonely, the monster decided to seek out the friendship of the cottagers. He went into their home when De Lacey, the blind man, was home alone so that he could win him over before the others returned. De Lacey was kind to him, but the monster didn't reveal his desire for their companionship until Felix, Agatha and Safie were almost in the door. Before De Lacey knew what had happened, the women had fainted and Felix had chased the monster away.
Topic Tracking: Friendship 9
The monster spent the night in the woods howling his disappointment and anger like an animal. He was angry and vengeful, so "'from that moment [he] declared everlasting war against the species, and more than all, against [Frankenstein] who had formed [him] and sent [him] forth to this insupportable misery.'" Chapter 16, pg. 121
He returned to his hiding place near the cottage only to find the cottage empty. Felix returned with the landlord and explained that the De Lacey family could no longer live there because the blind father's health was drastically altered by the encounter with the monster and that the women would never recover from the horror. The monster burned the cottage in a rage that night and set out for Geneva to find the man who created him and seek revenge for the injustice of his existence. While he traveled, the beauty of nature around him eased the monster's fury until he was shot at after he rescued a girl from a river. The wound received when he was only being kind was the final straw for the monster.
Topic Tracking: Nature 8
When the monster was near Geneva, he encountered a little boy in the woods. Thinking that someone so young could be taught to love him, the monster planned to kidnap the boy and keep him as a companion. But the boy struggled and threatened that his father, Alphonse Frankenstein would punish the monster, and he realized the boy's connection to Frankenstein, his creator. The monster killed the little boy to get back at Frankenstein. The monster found the miniature on the boy's body and took it because it was of so lovely a woman. He hid in a barn and discovered Justine, the Frankensteins' lovely servant, asleep in the loft. Bitter that a woman as beautiful as she would never care for him, the monster planted the necklace in her dress so that she would be convicted of his crime.
Topic Tracking: Friendship 10
Having finished relating his story to Frankenstein, the monster then laid out the terms of his demands. He said, "'I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.'" Chapter 16, pg. 129
Frankenstein and the monster argued about creating another creature. Frankenstein believed that if he did, the monster would have a companion with whom he could destroy humanity. The monster assured Frankenstein that he and his companion would travel away from Europe to the wilds of South America where they would live away from humanity. He explained that,
"'If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion....My vices are the children of a forced solitude that I abhor, and my virtues will necessarily arise when I live in communion with an equal.'" Chapter 17, pg. 132-3
If Frankenstein refused, the monster vowed to prevent Frankenstein from any peace or happiness. Feeling that he owed his creation a chance at happiness, Frankenstein agreed to make a female monster and then returned to Geneva to begin his work. The monster promised to be near at all times to check on Frankenstein's progress and take his companion when she was completed.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 6
Topic Tracking: Friendship 11
Frankenstein couldn't bring himself to start on the second monster because it repulsed him. His fits of melancholy were less frequent as he put off working on the monster, but every once in a while he had to be alone for a few days. His father chalked this moodiness up to the idea that Frankenstein didn't want to marry Elizabeth despite the expectation that the two would marry. Frankenstein assured his father that he loved Elizabeth and wanted to marry only her. But when his father suggested an immediate marriage, Frankenstein insisted that he needed to travel to England first. Frankenstein wanted to finish the creation of the second monster before marrying Elizabeth. He had research to do in England, and he knew he couldn't be near his family while he worked on the second monster, so his trip to England was settled and his marriage to Elizabeth would occur upon his return. Frankenstein worried that when he left for England the monster might harm his family, but then he decided that the monster would follow him to England to watch his progress. Frankenstein met Henry Clerval, his life-long friend, in Strasbourg and they traveled to England together. When they journeyed along the Rhine, Henry was greatly impressed by the beauty of the landscape around them, and the remembrance of his passion for that beauty made Frankenstein pause in relating his story to Walton to lament his friend's death.
Topic Tracking: Nature 9
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 7
Frankenstein and Henry spent several months in London before they went on a tour of Scotland. Frankenstein, still subject to fits of melancholy and fear, set out on his own for the fairly deserted Orkney Islands. He planned to work there on the monster's companion and promised to rejoin Henry in a few months. Frankenstein began his task although he was revolted by the work that excited him so long ago. He was uncertain of the monster's presence in Scotland, so he worried about his family's safety. Although he was motivated to work by a desire to protect his family, he still found it difficult to work on the second monster.
Frankenstein was almost finished with the female monster, but he realized that this second monster, created as a companion for the first, might not be agreeable to all the conditions Frankenstein and the monster had constructed before her creation. She would be as independent as the first monster and might not be held at peace by an agreement made before her creation. She might be violent. She and the monster might procreate and introduce a race of monsters to the earth. There were so many horrific possibilities that Frankenstein didn't want that responsibility.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 8
While Frankenstein was deciding against finishing the second creature, the monster looked in the window of his laboratory. Seeing the terrifying results of his first creation, Frankenstein defiantly ripped the second creature apart and left the lab. The monster came to Frankenstein's apartment, but Frankenstein wouldn't change his mind no matter what the argument. The monster vowed revenge. "'You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains -- revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery.'" Chapter 20, pg. 153 The monster vowed to be with Frankenstein on his wedding night and then disappeared. Frankenstein believed that he would die on his wedding night, but he still couldn't make himself construct the second monster.
Henry sent a letter requesting that Frankenstein join him immediately because Henry was leaving for India soon. Frankenstein took a few days to pack his instruments and then loaded the hideous and shredded remnants of the second monster into a basket weighted down with rocks. He dropped the basket into the ocean at night and was so relieved by getting rid of the thing that he fell asleep in the boat and awoke the next day in rough, unfamiliar waters. He spent the day expecting to die in the boat, but by evening it calmed enough for him to find harbor in a small town. As he pulled onto shore, a rude and suspicious Irish crowd met him. They took him to the local magistrate, M. Kirwin because he was suspected in the murder of a man the previous night.
The magistrate heard witnessed accounts of fishermen discovering the strangled body that was still warm and then seeing a man row away in a boat like the one Frankenstein arrived in. As he listened, Frankenstein heard the similarity between William's murder and this one. M. Kirwin showed Frankenstein the body; it was Henry. Frankenstein lapsed into a delirious fever for several months, ranting and raving about killing the monster. M. Kirwin believed him innocent of the murder and had a doctor and nurse tend to Frankenstein while he was imprisoned. M. Kirwin also contacted Frankenstein's father to come care for his son. Frankenstein was acquitted because of proof that he was on the island where he worked when the body was found. Although Frankenstein was ecstatic to see his father, his grief and remorse overwhelmed him and he sometimes tried to harm himself.
"The cup of life was poisoned forever, and although the sun shone upon me, as upon the happy and gay of heart, I saw around me nothing but a dense and frightful darkness, penetrated by no light but the glimmer of two eyes that glared upon me." Chapter 21, pg. 166
After his acquittal, Frankenstein and his father headed home to Geneva, but Frankenstein's health was still frail.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 9
While resting in France, Frankenstein got a letter from Elizabeth explaining that although she wanted to marry him, she didn't want him to feel honor-bound to marry her if there was someone else he loved. Frankenstein loved no other, but remembered the monster's promise to be with him on his wedding night. Frankenstein decided to face his death bravely and wrote to Elizabeth that he would marry her as soon as he returned and would tell her the secret that had been bothering him for so long on the day after their wedding. He returned home and was still depressed. The wedding date was set for ten days later and in the meantime, Frankenstein carried a gun and dagger in case the monster showed up early. But he wasn't prepared for what the monster had in store.
"Great God! If for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth than have consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I thought that I had prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim." Chapter 22, pg. 174-5
Elizabeth seemed melancholy on her wedding day as she and Frankenstein sailed to Evian for their honeymoon. As they traveled, Elizabeth pointed out the specific beauties of their trip -- Mont Blanc in the distance, the clearness of the river on which they sailed, and the general serenity of the world around them. But even the natural beauty didn't ease her sadness. Frankenstein began getting nervous as night fell.
Topic Tracking: Nature 10
A storm blew in that night, and Frankenstein's agitation was scaring Elizabeth, so he sent her to their room to go to sleep while he checked around the inn to make sure the monster wasn't there. He heard a scream from their room. "As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins and tingling in the extremities of my limbs." Chapter 23, pg. 177 When he got to their room, Elizabeth was strangled, stretched out across the bed. After fainting, Frankenstein saw the monster in the window and went out into the night after him with no success. Grief-stricken and worried about his father and brother, the only family he had left, Frankenstein set out for home. Frankenstein's father was so shocked by the news of Elizabeth's death that his health failed him and he died in Frankenstein's arms a few days later. Frankenstein spent a short time in an insane asylum before he was released, and then he went to the magistrate to demand help catching the monster. He told the magistrate his story and the man, half-believing, refused to send men after the monster because of the futility of chasing something so superhuman. At that point, Frankenstein vowed to spend the rest of his life pursuing the monster.
Topic Tracking: Responsibility 10
Uncertain of where to begin his search, Frankenstein went to the cemetery where William, Elizabeth, and Alphonse were buried. He swore on their graves that he would avenge their deaths, and he heard the monster laugh at him. The chase was on. Frankenstein followed the monster across Europe and up toward the North Pole. When Frankenstein felt weak, he would find stashes of food or goading notes left by the monster to spur him on, prolonging the torture of living only for revenge. On the ice-covered ocean, Frankenstein was only a mile behind the monster until the ice broke, separating them and bringing Frankenstein toward Robert Walton's ship. Before he came aboard, Frankenstein had demanded to know what direction the ship was sailing because he would only go aboard if it were going north so that he could continue his pursuit of the monster. After ending the story, Frankenstein asks Walton to kill the monster if given the chance.
August 26th 17--: Walton describes Frankenstein during his storytelling as prey to all the melancholy and indignant emotions of his story. Although the tale is fantastic, Walton believes it without doubt. Frankenstein even goes over the notes of Walton's letters to correct mistakes and elaborate in some parts. Walton thinks Frankenstein's only comfort is the dreams he has of his family, which Frankenstein believes are visitations by their spirits. Walton thinks Frankenstein must have been an incredible man before this tragedy destroyed him. Frankenstein explains that when he was younger, he believed himself destined for greatness, and it was that belief that upheld him at times when others might have been discouraged. He felt he had to persevere because he didn't want to waste his talent. The creation of the monster, although hideous, was still remarkable and miraculous. It seemed in some way that he had reached the greatness he felt destined for, but at a costly price. "'All my speculations and hopes are as nothing, and like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell.'" Chapter 24, pg. 194 Frankenstein's attempt to play God and create life has caused him to plummet into destruction at the hands of his own creation. His ambition and desire for glory fashioned the chain that binds him to the monster and insists upon destroying the monster or dying in the attempt. Walton is sad to think of losing this new friend, but Frankenstein is so bent on vengeance that he refuses any new ties of friendship and his only desire is to kill the monster and join his family in death.
September 2nd, 17--: Walton's ship is enclosed by ice. The lives of his crew are in his hands, and he isn't sure whether to turn back and go home, or to continue to the North Pole. The men are afraid. Frankenstein's health is failing, but he still lifts Walton's spirits with his presence.
September 5th, 17--: Walton's crew demands a promise that as soon as the ice clears, if it clears, they will go home. Before Walton answers, Frankenstein gives them a lecture on glory, which seems odd given the devastation that the search for glory has created in his life. But even though his initial search for glory has destroyed his life, he pursues the monster with the same ardor and passion with which he created him, determined to succeed despite the physical impossibilities. Frankenstein tells the crew:
"'Oh! Be men, or be more than men. Be steady to your purposes and firm as a rock. This ice is not made of such stuff as your hearts may be; it is mutable and cannot withstand you if you say that it shall not. Do not return to your families with the stigma of disgrace marked on your brows. Return as heroes who have fought and conquered and who know not what it is to turn their backs on the foe.'" Chapter 24, pg. 198
Topic Tracking: Glory 10
September 7th, 17--: Walton and the men decide to turn back although Walton is bitterly disappointed about not reaching the North Pole.
September 12th, 17--: Several days before the ice breaks and the path home becomes clear, Frankenstein insists on leaving the ship to pursue the monster, but his health prevents it. As death approaches, he summarizes his life in these words:
"'In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature and was bound towards him to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being .... . . I refused, and I did right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature. He showed unparalleled malignity and selfishness in evil; he destroyed my friends . . ... Miserable himself that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.'" Chapter 24, pg. 199-200
Although Frankenstein had a duty to his creation, he felt his greater duty was to humankind, to protect them from the terror and destruction that the monster and a companion might create. In fulfilling his duty to mankind and refusing the monster's request for a companion, Frankenstein brought the monster's wrath upon himself and his family. Frankenstein tells Walton to "'[s]eek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries.'" Chapter 24, pg. 200 Frankenstein dies shortly after imparting this advice, and as Walton finishes the last of his letter, he hears cries from Frankenstein's room. The monster stands over Frankenstein asking the corpse for forgiveness for his destruction. He tries to justify his crimes to Walton, who can't bring himself to look at the monster's hideous face. Walton debates killing him as he had assured Frankenstein he would if given the chance, but the monster prevents his plans by explaining that he is leaving for the North Pole to burn himself and destroy every trace of his existence. The monster jumps from the ship onto the ice-raft that he arrived on and is "borne away by the waves."