Frankenstein Chapter 24
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
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."