Analysis Pages

Plot in Frankenstein

Plot Examples in Frankenstein:

Letter I

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"Prometheus..."   (Letter I)

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. Fire was forbidden to humans, and because of this crime, Zeus chained Prometheus to a mountaintop for eternal torture. Shelley subtitles her novel The Modern Prometheus because of Victor's thirst for forbidden knowledge, his eventual ability to create life, and his miserable consequences; in a sense, this makes him Shelley’s Prometheus.

"warmth which I had not expected...."   (Letter III)

The weather in the Arctic is exceedingly warm for this time of year. This gives Walton welcome respite and an even grander feeling of success in his journey.

"My swelling heart involuntarily pours itself out thus. But I must finish. Heaven bless my beloved sister..."   (Letter III)

Walton remains determined to complete his journey. Note the very Romantic concepts of reporting his feelings to his sister and describing the beauty of nature. Even the confidence that Walton expresses here can be considered distinct to the Romantic frame of mind.

"To Mrs. Saville, England..."   (Letter III)

Walton is on the leg of his voyage that he has been anticipating. It is the middle of the summer and he has secured passage into the highest reaches of the earth's northern hemisphere. He is experiencing weather that is warmer than usual in the Arctic Circle and is increasingly happy about his success in both securing and continuing the voyage to the North Pole. Walton admits that there isn’t much exciting to report at this point in the journey. Walton expresses to his sister Margaret that he will complete the journey and expand his horizons.

"For my own part, I begin to love him as a brother; and his constant and deep grief fills me with sympathy and compassion..."   (Letter IV)

As readers can observe, Victor is the companion, friend, and confidant that Walton has been wishing for on his voyage to and from the Arctic.

"We perceived a low carriage, fixed on a sledge and drawn by dogs, pass on towards the north, at the distance of half a mile; a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature, sat in the sledge and guided the dogs..."   (Letter IV)

Readers first encounter Victor Frankenstein's creation: a "man" of "gigantic stature" who is riding a dogsled across the ice.

"we were nearly surrounded by ice, which closed in the ship on all sides, scarcely leaving her the sea-room in which she floated..."   (Letter IV)

Ironically, this is not the "strange... accident" Walton reports in his first line. Being surrounded by ice is a normal occurrence for a ship in the Arctic Circle.

"To Mrs. Saville, England..."   (Letter IV)

This letter details a series of events from more than one day. The first report describes how Walton and his ship are stuck in the ice in the Arctic. The letter also provides readers' first acquaintance with the creature whose simple “stature” is spoken of here, specifically in the crew's report that a large being is driving a dogsled across the ice. In the following days, the crew finds another man adrift on another piece of ice, separate from the other large being. The crew take the man aboard only to find out that he is Victor Frankenstein. Victor is in great need of rest and recuperation because he is in search of the being that is fleeing from him. In the meantime, Victor Frankenstein becomes the “friend” for which Walton has been longing during his journey. Walton helps nurse Victor back to health and becomes more and more interested in Victor’s strange situation. Walton's love for Victor as a “brother of my heart” wins Victor over so much so that Victor decides to tell Walton his story.

"by some fatality the overthrow of these men disinclined me to pursue my accustomed studies...."   (Chapter II)

After witnessing lightning striking an oak tree and having the laws of electricity explained to him, Frankenstein immediately rejects the teachings of Agrippa, Paraclesus etc. in favor of the “secure” science of mathematics. This sudden change in belief demonstrates how Frankenstein is easily swayed from his own beliefs and thinking.

"WE WERE BROUGHT up together; there was not quite a year difference in our ages..."   (Chapter II)

Victor and the adopted child, Elizabeth, are the only two children in the Frankenstein family until the birth of Victor’s little brother. Because Victor is seven years older than his youngest sibling, Victor is more interested in his school friends than his little brother. Victor specifically mentions his good friend Henry Clerval, who readers know is quite important to the story. Victor becomes enamored with science and develops a particular interest in electricity due to a violent storm that Victor witnesses when he is an early teen.

"in his animated glance a restrained but firm resolve not to be chained to the miserable details of commerce..."   (Chapter III)

It is interesting to witness the departure of Victor from Clerval. Victor is bound for university to study the sciences. Clerval, always being more of a fan of poetry and art, has no such luck.  He is damned to "the miserable details of commerce" in order to support an eventual family.  (It is also interesting to note that the sciences are still paid and respected over the humanities.)

"She joined the hands of Elizabeth and myself:—“My children,” she said, “my firmest hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of your union..."   (Chapter III)

Here one of Caroline Frankenstein's secrets is revealed: she desires for Victor and the adopted Elizabeth not to be "brother and sister," but instead to be "husband and wife." 

"Thus ended a day memorable to me: it decided my future destiny..."   (Chapter III)

The adopted Elizabeth, as she recovers from Scarlet Fever, ceases to be a “sister” and begins to be a “cousin," perhaps because Caroline has always had a secret intention to marry off Elizabeth to her “brother” Victor. Shelley continues to give her story verisimilitude by having Victor attend a real university: the University of Ingolstadt in Germany. While at university, Victor is not a fan of Krempe’s natural philosophy and prefers Waldman’s study of chemistry (even though Waldman also informs Victor that his beloved alchemy was not a true science). In studies of Romanticism, it is interesting to analyze the two names of these characters in regards to Victor’s feelings. There is no doubt that the names are German. The name “Krempe” most closely translates into “a hat’s rim.” The name “Waldman” most specifically translates into “man of the forest” or “woodsman.” Now, knowing the precepts of Romanticism (as fleeing always into nature), which professor would readers suppose Victor prefers? Ironically, Victor has a friendly competition with the professors in that Victor wants to prove that alchemy is a true science.

"WHEN I HAD attained the age of seventeen, my parents resolved that I should become a student..."   (Chapter III)

Victor is older during this chapter. In fact, he has turned seventeen years of age and finds that his parents desire quite strongly for Victor to go to university as soon as possible. Victor is quite torn to leave the people he loves so much, but he admits his desires and obsessions and agrees to go to university in order to study science. Sickness delays the beginning of his university education, however. In fact, two people closest to him have been infected with scarlet fever: Caroline (his mom) and Elizabeth (his adopted sister who is now interestingly called his “cousin”). Caroline’s condition worsens and begins to speak to her only son about her dreams of Victor and Elizabeth marrying. In fact she says that her very “happiness” depends upon “the prospect of [their] union.” Caroline eventually passes away, and Elizabeth recovers from scarlet fever. Without Caroline to care for the family, Elizabeth now takes on that job. It is at this point that Victor finally decides to leave for university (specifically the University of Ingolstadt in Germany). Victor laments leaving Elizabeth, but due to his continued obsession with the sciences, he must leave for further study. Upon arriving at the University of Ingolstadt, Victor comes upon two professors who greatly affect him: Professor Waldman (the one that Victor greatly prefers) and Professor Krempe (the one that Victor doesn’t like at all). Victor is very fond of Professor Waldman, his professor of Chemistry, not only because he looks and sounds more affable, but because he proclaims that the chemists of the past “have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows.” There is no doubt as to why Victor prefers this particular professor over the other. The words here echo Victor's own desires and eventual success in creating "the creature." In fact, Waldman admits that he is glad to have “gained a disciple” and lifts Victor’s spirits by telling him that Waldman is sure of Victor’s success as a scientist. Victor doesn’t like the latter professor mostly because he discounts Victor’s love of scientific books: “Every minute… every instant that you have wasted on those books is utterly and entirely lost. You have burdened your memory with exploded systems and useless names.” Even though Victor agrees that the professor is, in fact correct, his demeanor and philosophical concentration on the sciences turn Victor off to his studies.

"I was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead, and found a passage to life, aided only by one glimmering, and seemingly ineffectual, light...."   (Chapter IV)

This allusion refers to a story from the anthology of Arabian tales A Thousand and One Nights. In one particular tale, Sinbad escapes from his wife’s tomb, in which he had been interred by villains. This allusion to an Arabian tale, rather than a European one, serves as an important cross-cultural reference. Finding this “passage to life” serves as motivation for Frankenstein and, therefore, the plot of the novel. Romantics were often fascinated by Arabian stories and culture because they considered it exotic. That Shelley grounds the pivotal moments in this novel with allusions to Arabian tales supports the themes of romanticism throughout the tale.

"I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation and life..."   (Chapter IV)

Frankenstein simply tells Walton (and readers) that he discovered how to create life and leaves it at that. While he does tell Walton that such a secret will never be shared, this technique on Shelley’s part is intentional: the reasons behind how he came to understand this knowledge are not important; what is important, is that he does know this, which allows the plot to move forward.

"Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?..."   (Chapter IV)

By “principle,” Frankenstein means the source from which something originates—that is, an origin, a root, a source, etc. Having made such strides in his studies, Frankenstein reveals to Walton how he now began to actively pursue his interest in and experimentation with the creation of life.

"and I promised myself both of these when my creation should be complete..."   (Chapter IV)

This chapter describes the process from Victor’s interest in chemistry to anatomy to life to death to corruption to animation of that very corruption. It goes in perfect and rapid succession and should be an interesting study for today’s psychiatrist in regards to Obsessive Disorder. From a Romantic perspective it’s important to note that Victor’s progression into obsession brings him from the natural world to the “unnatural world,” something which was disgusting to Romantic writers of the period. The closer one’s connection with nature, the closer one is to happiness, truth, and normalcy. Victor departs from those areas in every conceivable way. There is danger in creating life, as God does. Victor becomes able to bestow “animation upon lifeless matter.” Becoming “like God” is at its very root “unnatural,” and such technology will be seen as negative when seen through Romantic eyes. In this way, Victor can be seen as an allusion to Goethe’s Faustus: someone whose noble pursuits of knowledge turn deadly and obsessive. In fact, Victor is so enraptured by his own idea that he convinces himself that he is a hero for creating a new species of human. The older and wiser Victor who is rescued on the ship and talking to Walton, tells his listener not to copy him, but to “learn from me… by my example” and furthers the Romantic concept that nothing good can happen to someone “who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.” It is also an interesting idea to ponder how too much education or too much knowledge can actually harm an individual. The chapter ends with Victor’s feelings of “guilt” in that he actually feels he may have committed “a crime” in creating such a disgusting creature that will eventually (and somehow) be brought to life.

"FROM THIS DAY natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry, in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly my sole occupation..."   (Chapter IV)

Due to Victor’s persistent study, he becomes an immediate success. First, he acquaints himself with chemistry. However, over the course of two years, Victor becomes enamored with the human form enough that he desires to explore anatomy. His study of anatomy flow from the normal to the abnormal in that he decides that in order to truly understand “life” he must also understand “death” and, in turn, the complete corruption of the human body after life has left it. Victor’s obsession with the human form continues as he frequents morgues and cemeteries and anywhere else he can find dead bodies. Victor ponders for a moment as to whether he should strive for such a highly evolved form to bring back from death, or whether he should stick with a lower form first (such as an animal). Victor, though, always embracing the ultimate obsession, desires to go for the ultimate goal. Victor admits that he eventually does succeed in bringing “the creature” to life, but refuses to reveal exactly how. In his grotesque pursuit which the reader now hears involves collecting dead body parts from wherever he can and bringing them back to his study in order to create his creature, he loses all touch with reality. The seasons go by. Family members try to contact him. Victor cannot be torn away from his work. In fact, Victor cuts himself off completely from the rest of his world in order to complete his creation.

"One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted my attention was the structure of the human frame..."   (Chapter IV)

Victor's studies begin innocently enough. Interested with the anatomy of the human body, Victor begins. However, by this time, readers should realize Victor's tendency towards obsession. His new trend towards anatomy will soon approach obsession.

"Now I was led to examine the cause and progress of this decay, and forced to spend days and nights in vaults..."   (Chapter IV)

Note how Victor's experience with "anatomy" becomes more and more morose, departing from the "natural" and approaching the "unnatural."

"I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself, or one of simpler organisation..."   (Chapter IV)

Note how Victor is always spurred on by the "biggest" idea of success. Only for a slight moment does he dwell upon the possibility that he might animate an animal from death. It isn't long before he sets his sights on something greater: animating a dead human.

"I see by your eagerness, and the wonder and hope which your eyes express, my friend, that you expect to be informed of the secret with which I am acquainted; that cannot be: listen patiently until the end of my story, and you will easily perceive why I am reserved upon that subject..."   (Chapter IV)

Although Victor spends paragraph after paragraph discussing the "wonder," "hope," and the "miracle" of his success, he refuses to reveal his secret (which the reader can ascertain has something to do with science and anatomy and electricity).  Readers know how Victor has been rescued from an ice flow at sea, and he is obviously not in a state of relaxation as a result of his discoveries.

"How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form?..."   (Chapter V)

The word “catastrophe” accurately characterizes Frankenstein’s reaction to the creature’s coming to life. “Catastrophe” is a term with origins in ancient Greek theater, and refers to the final turn or event in a tragedy. The word gives Frankenstein’s scientific pursuit a dramatic shape, and implicitly suggests that his research is a tragic arc whose result is a disaster.

"Doth close behind him tread.” Coleridge's Ancient Mariner..."   (Chapter V)

The Romantic ideas that “unnatural” things are never good continue in this chapter. We can see those more gothic elements in the creature’s grotesque features, the mood inside Victor’s lab, and even Victor’s eerie feelings of being followed by the creature. It is very important to notice the contrast between the beautiful and the grotesque here, even within the creature’s features themselves. For example, even though the creature has all parts of the body perfectly proportioned, black lustrous hair and white gleaming teeth (a few things that might be seen as gorgeous on a living human), they are immediately juxtaposed by his disgusting features of yellow skin and sallow eyes and shriveled face and giant stature, etc. (a few things, of course, that would be regarded as completely disgusting on a living human). Another important thing to note about this chapter is how the appearance of Clerval, an old friend, is very important to Victor’s journey back to reality and out of the severely obsessed state. It is also really interesting to see the correlation between Coleridge’s poem and Shelley’s novel exquisitely provided in the direct reference at the end of this chapter. Not only is this quotation a “shout out” to Coleridge (one of Shelley’s dad’s good friends), but it is also a perfect component of Romanticism. The idea of something unnatural following behind someone, so much so that the person does not want to look back, fits perfectly into Victor’s situation.

"IT WAS ON a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils..."   (Chapter V)

It is November when Victor finally succeeds in making his creation come to life. Victor recounts a vivid description of the creature showing the contrast of some “beautiful” features (such as black hair and white teeth) with some gruesome ones (such as yellowed skin, shriveled face, etc.). The creature is larger than a normal human, standing eight feet tall. In short, Victor is excited and shocked and scared, so much so that he runs away and “escapes” first to the downstairs for the night and then out into the streets the next day. The more he dreams and thinks about his creation, the more fearful Victor is upon meeting him again. While he wanders the roads of Germany, he comes upon Clerval, his friend from home. Clerval immediately removes Victor from his state of shock and obsession and brings thoughts of home and family and joy. Of course, Clerval wants to see where Victor has been spending all of his time at university, and Victor becomes afraid that Clerval might come upon the horrible creature. Victor tries hard to discount his recent “success” and tries to pretend it hasn’t happened; however, it isn’t long before it comes out in the form of uncontrollable laughter and then a fit of exhaustion. Clerval is so concerned for Victor that Clerval nurses Victor back to health.For further explanation, please see my note at the end of this book beginning with the following phrase: "Now for some words of interpretation." 

"By very slow degrees, and with frequent relapses that alarmed and grieved my friend, I recovered..."   (Chapter V)

With Clerval's help (note the importance of the reintroduction of a natural friendship), Victor is nursed back to health and, eventually, must deal with the unnatural being he has formerly created.

"I threw the door forcibly open, as children are accustomed to do when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting for them on the other side; but nothing appeared. I stepped fearfully in: the apartment was empty; and my bedroom was also freed from its hideous guest. I could hardly believe that so great a good fortune..."   (Chapter V)

Unable to accept the consequences of his own grotesque creation and success of study, Victor is simply happy that the creature is no longer in his room so he does not have to share his disgusting success with Clerval. How quickly denial sets in with something so horrible. Unfortunately, denial leads to unrestrained and unnatural laughter and even hallucination, and Clerval begins to truly worry about his friend. 

"Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his presence brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth, and all those scenes of home so dear to my recollection..."   (Chapter V)

The meeting of Victor with Clerval jars Victor out of his obsessive daze. He is now able to remember home and family and joy. He almost forgets the horror he has created. We learn here that Clerval finally decides to join Victor at university. Unfortunately, there is something quite unnatural that needs to be resolved before the two friends can truly enjoy each other.

"I sought to avoid the wretch whom I feared every turning of the street would present to my view. I did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited..."   (Chapter V)

In the morning, Victor takes his "escape" further and begins wandering the streets, still exhausted by months and months of obsessive study and creation.

"I escaped and rushed downstairs..."   (Chapter V)

Victor cannot accept the grotesque reality of his creation and leaves the creature alone. Note his use of the word "escape" here. At this point, he cannot conceive of what the creature will do, but Victor assumes that the creature will seek him out:  an interesting, and ironically selfish assumption.

"I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened..."   (Chapter V)

As death here comes to life, Victor is disgusted by his own creation. Further, the first time he beholds his "living" creation, he has just awoken from one of his haunted dreams.  There is no doubt how Victor will next react. 

"I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain: I slept, indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams..."   (Chapter V)

Due to Victor's extreme obsession and declining health due to his pursuits, he has allowed himself to enter a state of exhaustion.  Even his dreams are haunted, as the reader can see here.

"His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!—Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness..."   (Chapter V)

The beauty of this description revolves around Shelley's ability to contrast "beautiful" features with "ghastly" features. Even though the form is perfectly proportioned, the form has black flowing hair and white teeth, an image which is contrasted against the "shrivelled" and "yellow" skin and "dun" eye sockets. The creature is disgusting. It is life made of death.

"My own spirits were high, and I bounded along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity..."   (Chapter VI)

The importance of this chapter is one of contrast both in description and in mood. Chapter five and chapter six of Shelley’s novel serve in direct contrast to each other. Where chapter five is all about the gruesome creation of the creature with all of its disgusting attributes, chapter six is all about the joy of leaving that creature behind (at least in the mind) for the focus on family and friendship and study. Although the concentration in Elizabeth’s letter on Justine (as opposed to Victor’s own brothers) might seem strange to the novice reader, most scholars suggest that this is the way Shelley comments on her own situation in life, not being accepted or adored by her own stepparents. It is also interesting to see that Elizabeth’s love is what fully restores Victor to full health. Denial become complete when Clerval takes away all of the chemical instruments that remind Victor of the creature. It is the praise of his professors that make Victor the most uncomfortable, as he cannot escape the words of success because the “reality” of his success is so upsetting to him. Victor gets quite wrapped up in the difference between western and eastern languages, seemingly forgetting his past love of science. It is interesting that he sees such a difference between classic western literature as more burly and classic eastern literature as more emotional and “Romantic.” This is an important, albeit subtle, point in regards to the Romantic period from which Shelley’s actual novel comes.

"CLERVAL THEN PUT the following letter into my hands. It was from my own Elizabeth..."   (Chapter VI)

The creature is almost forgotten here as Victor is restored to health and returns to the daily life of a university student. Henry Clerval puts directly into Victor’s hands a letter from his own Elizabeth and is glad to hear about Justine Moritz (a good friend of the Frankenstein family who cleaned their house) and how she continues to be good and true even after being poorly treated by her own family. Further, the letter proves that Elizabeth is in good health as well and desires greatly for Victor to come home, something that is quite restorative to Victor. Back in the university vein, Victor shows his friend Clerval around to everyone, including his favorite (and not so favorite) professors. Everyone seems to be praising Victor. This tortures the poor young man: “Waldman inflicted torture when he praised, with kindness and warmth, the astonishing progress I had made in the sciences.” They start attending classes together and switch pursuits to suit Henry Clerval’s taste (more than Victor’s previous taste for science) by studying all sorts of languages, both past and present. Through these studies, both Henry and Victor seem happy, and Victor is excited even more by a return trip to his native Geneva come fall. However, the trip becomes impossible due to both studies and weather, so the winter approaches. Victor, then, puts off his return trip home until May.

"her mother could not endure her, and after the death of M. Moritz, treated her very ill. My aunt observed this; and, when Justine was twelve years of age, prevailed on her mother to allow her to live at our house..."   (Chapter VI)

As the reader observes, much of the content of Elizabeth's letter is about the family friend (and servant), Justine, who was treated poorly by  her own family, but who is adored by all in the Frankenstein family.

"Get well—and return to us. You will find a happy, cheerful home, and friends who love you dearly..."   (Chapter VI)

Here, Elizabeth's love restores Victor Frankenstein. She truly desires him to come home. Readers will observe that by the end of the chapter, that is exactly his plan.

" a very valuable miniature that she possessed of your mother. ..."   (Chapter VII)

This miniature refers to a locket which held a picture of Frankenstein’s mother inside. Elizabeth had given this locket to William. When Elizabeth examines William’s body she notices his neck is bare, and thus assumes William’s murderer was a thief who stole the locket. This thinking causes Elizabeth great distress, as she feels guilty for giving William the locket that supposedly led to his death.

"You are all mistaken; I know the murderer. Justine, poor, good Justine, is innocent..."   (Chapter VII)

Note here how Victor is grasping at straws as he remains torn between implicating himself (and his creation) vs. remaining secret and insisting on Justine's innocence.

"As I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed, gazing intently: I could not be mistaken. 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 dæmon, to whom I had given life. What did he there? Could he be (I shuddered at the conception) the murderer of my brother..."   (Chapter VII)

Note that it is a lightning storm that arouses the creature to come into view of his creator:  Victor.  And here Victor comes to realize the seriousness of the truth awaiting him.  His creation may very well be the killer of his own flesh and blood.

"Come, dearest Victor; you alone can console Elizabeth. She weeps continually, and accuses herself unjustly as the cause of his death; her words pierce my heart..."   (Chapter VII)

Readers should also find it interesting that Victor is asked and agrees to come home because of the consolation of Elizabeth.  She is the main reason.

"O God! I have murdered my darling child!’ “She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty. When she again lived, it was only to weep and sigh. She told me that that same evening William had teased her to let him wear a very valuable miniature that she possessed of your mother. This picture is gone, and was doubtless the temptation which urged the murderer to the deed..."   (Chapter VII)

Note how strangely and severely Elizabeth reacts to the information here.  She actually blames herself and immediately connects the murder to her allowing William to wear the locket with mother's picture.  Obviously she is already connecting the two. 

"About five in the morning I discovered my lovely boy, whom the night before I had seen blooming and active in health, stretched on the grass livid and motionless: the print of the murder's finger was on his neck..."   (Chapter VII)

Here we learn that Victor's dear little brother, William, has been killed.  In fact, he has been strangled.  "Luckily," there is evidence left upon William's cold neck. 

"If she is, as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws, and the activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of partiality..."   (Chapter VII)

Most scholars consider chapter seven to be the turning point in Shelley’s novel because the creature has now acted of his own regard and furthered the plot. Further, the creature is no longer innocent, but guilty. Note the suspense that Shelley builds with the increasing thunderstorm on the mountain. The reader should be prepared to finally observe the creature in this environment: an environment of electricity (stemming from the natural science that peaked Victor’s interest at the outset). What should further arouse the reader’s curiosity is the fact that the creature was able to find Victor’s loved ones. Of course, what stands out in this chapter is the fact that Victor is torn: should he free Justine and reveal his creation, or should he keep Justine as accused and keep himself safe. Victor ends the chapter still keeping himself safe, of course. He does his best to state that Justine is innocent (much to the relief of Elizabeth); however, readers should wonder if this will be enough.

"ON MY RETURN, I found the following letter from my father..."   (Chapter VII)

Chapter 7 begins with Victor getting a letter from his dad asking him to come right home. Unfortunately, little William has been strangled by an unknown culprit. On an evening walk where William ran ahead of the family, he was found dead with an imprint upon his neck showing he had been strangled. Curiously, also missing was the special locket and chain that Elizabeth had given William that had belonged to their mother before she died. Victor does, in fact, go right home. However, when he gets there, he is forced to stay outside of the city until the morning (because the gates are locked for safety). During this hiatus, Victor realizes that he has been gone from home for six full years. Further, it was two years ago that Victor created his special creature. A further curiosity is that Victor sees the creature amid bolts of lightning while he waits to enter the city. Victor worries that his creature might have something to do with the murder of his little brother. Feeling very torn, Victor comes to terms with the fact that his monster must have something to do with the murder, but to speak about that possibility would implicate Victor himself. Victor vows to remain quiet at the present time. Ironically, when Victor finally reaches home, he finds that the servant named Justine (who Elizabeth has always spoken of so very highly) is accused of the murder. Elizabeth is beside herself with this stress in regards to Justine. Victor does his best to reassure Elizabeth. He swears to Justine’s innocence and guarantees that Justine will not be found guilty of the murder of William. Elizabeth’s burden is lightened a bit by Victor’s promises.

"I did confess; but I confessed a lie..."   (Chapter VIII)

Here lies the truth of the matter: Justine has given a false confession under duress.  She thought she could remain in the Church and atone for her "sin." But no, she is instead condemned to death under the "justice" system.

"Several strange facts combined against her, which might have staggered any one who had not such proof of her innocence as I had..."   (Chapter VIII)

The "several strange facts" mentioned here are her "confused and unintelligible answer" to the fact that she was seen near where William's body lay and her sudden and unexplainable procurement of the picture (and perhaps the whole locket?) that was taken from William's neck either before or after he died by the culprit.

"wretched mockery of justice I suffered living torture..."   (Chapter VIII)

It in interesting to note two things (even in these very few words here).  First, notice that the true victim here is Justine and that Victor is calling this a "wretched mockery of justice."  The similarity of name is probably not an accident.  Second, notice that Victor is finally succumbing to the fact that he is going through "living torture."  Why?  Because Victor himself has created the creature and now (or perhaps I should say by the end of the chapter) two people will have died as a direct result of Victor's actions:  William and Justine.

"I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless victims to my unhallowed arts..."   (Chapter VIII)

Readers wonder (and some scholars suggest) if the name “Justine” is significant in light of the fact that the character of Justine is not given proper justice through the system that is in place. And, of course, Victor is mentally tortured by all of the proceedings. It is especially important to note that Justine is very truthful about her sadness in regards to little William’s death. It is through this sadness and mourning that Justine became a part of the investigation in the first place. It is also interesting to note that Justine is so very sure of the outcome of the justice system that she is led directly into a false confession, saying that the expected atonement and forgiveness. Probably the most important thing to note in this chapter is Victor’s use of wording to speak of his tortured soul. Victor now describes the creature as a “demon” who murdered his little brother through “hellish sport” and describes his own thoughts as “horrid anguish” that is “possessing” him. He connects both himself and the creature for one of the first times saying that they both have “betrayed the innocent to death and ignominy.” And after Justine dies, Victor visits the graves: one for his little brother William and one for his trusted servant Justine. Both people have been murdered due to Victor’s own indirect doing and directly through the creature that Victor himself has created.

"WE PASSED A FEW sad hours, until eleven o’clock, when the trial was to commence..."   (Chapter VIII)

The plot of this chapter includes the complete trial of Justine Moritz, the servant girl of the Frankenstein household who was always held in such high esteem, but who was eventually unjustly accused in little William’s death by strangulation. Despite being wronged so gravely, Justine is incredibly calm during the entire trial, answering all of the questions both thoroughly and truthfully. At one point, Elizabeth takes the stand and gives a spectacular defense of Justine. Regardless of all these things, Justine is found guilty and is sentenced to die by hanging on the very next day. Why? Well, the most aggravating factor in the investigation is that the locket belonging to Victor’s (and Elizabeth’s) mother was found in Justine’s pocket after she had spent her previous night in a random barn waiting for the city gates to open (much like Victor had to wait before arriving home). Victor is watching the trial and stands in shock about all that is going on; however, he does nothing to stop the proceedings even though he knows they are unjust and untrue. In fact, Victor knows that it was most likely his own creature creation that murdered his little brother William. After the trial where Justine is found guilty, Victor visits Justine in jail. There he find out that Justine had been questioned too harshly apart from the trial and had, by mistake, implicated herself due to the interrogation. Justine mistakenly thought that if she confessed, she wouldn’t be thrown out of the church or be killed by the death penalty. She thought that there may be such thing as atonement and forgiveness. This false confession (and the locket) led directly to her condemnation. Still, Justine moves closer and closer to her own death without any fear, inspiring Victor to move to the closeness of his own truth in the matter. After the visit from Victor, Justine is, in fact, led to her death.

"Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of earth, nor of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe: the very accents of love were ineffectual..."   (Chapter IX)

Readers should note how, from a romantic point of view, just how very serious all of this is.  Specifically for a romantic, "the beauty of the earth" should be able to cure all evils.  However, Victor has created something so very unnatural, that even nature cannot heal him.  A further slap in the face is that "friendship" nor the "beauty of ... heaven" could console Victor either.  No one could ever be said to be in a more serious predicament.

"when I placed my head upon my pillow, sleep crept over me; I felt it as it came, and blessed the giver of oblivion...."   (Chapter IX)

Readers should notice that there is no escape from serious guilt. This entire chapter is devoted to Victor’s guilt and, some say, entrance into mental illness as a result of the torture inflicted on Victor by that guilt. Add some depression to the mix and Victor attempts to “escape” both physically and emotionally. This doesn’t work, however. (It never works, mind you.) Victor remains as tortured as before. Even when one is indirectly the cause of a death (or two), one must face the consequences. Note how Alphonse, Victor’s own father, notices that there is something amiss in this severe depression. Why? This depression and further mental illness doesn’t come only from grief, it comes from implication of guilt. This, of course, is a wonderful example of dramatic irony (where a character doesn’t have as much information as the reader has). Alphonse Frankenstein has no idea (as we do) that Victor has created the monster that has murdered both his brother and condemned Elizabeth’s loyal servant. Dramatic irony could also be used to describe the situation with Elizabeth; however, instead it’s important for the reader to realize the somewhat subtle differences between Elizabeth’s demeanor (and the change in Elizabeth) and Victor’s demeanor (and the change is Victor). The former is the result of severe grief due to two people close to her. The latter is the result of guilt (mixed with grief as well). It is also important to recognize another significant characteristic of Romantic literature here in that Victor flies to nature in order to try to regain his sanity and his comfort. Nature, to the true romantic writer, is exactly the place to go in order to do that. Unfortunately, Victor’s “crimes” are a bit too hefty even for nature to cure. Why? Because Victor created something so very “unnatural” that even nature (further, even the sublime beauty of the incredible European Alps) can’t heal his mind.

"NOTHING IS MORE painful to the human mind, than, after the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which follows, and deprives the soul both of hope and fear..."   (Chapter IX)

Victor continues in torment after seeing Justine be convicted, condemned, and killed. Victor is no longer able to sleep due to the thoughts that are haunting him in regards to his part in these terrible deaths (namely, that he is the one that created the creature and brought it to life). Victor’s dad notices this and thinks that his son is taking this far too hard. Elizabeth feels the same way. (Neither Alphonse nor Elizabeth, however, know the truth about the creature, of course.) Elizabeth is upset as well, but the change in her is a result of both injustice and severe grief. Victor tries desperately to free himself of this torturous guilt. First, he tries boating on Lake Geneva. What was once a renewing and rejuvenating experience does nothing to stop Victor’s torture of the mind or his depression. Next, Victor tries a trip to the valley region (in Chamounix). Here, Victor hopes to get the rest and rejuvenation he needs. Still, we end the chapter with Victor collapsing under the weight of his guilt and crying, even after being under the care of mother nature. At least Victor is able to achieve a fretful sleep in the valley.

"For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were..."   (Chapter X)

Readers should note that Victor finally considers it his "duty" to listen to the creature's tale. 

"I expected this reception,” said the dæmon. “All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things..."   (Chapter X)

Immediately, the reader should notice the creature's command of the English language (not at all expected from a creature created in such a grotesque manner).  Thus begins Shelley's Romantic attempt to make the creature to be a sympathetic character instead of an evil one.

"As I said this, I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice..."   (Chapter X)

Here, Victor beholds the creature.  This sentence should create quite a bit of suspense in the reader as a result.  (Again, Shelley proves herself to be a literary master yet again, this time in regards to the element of suspense.)

"These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving..."   (Chapter X)

It is important readers to note here that these scenes, both beautiful and natural, are meant to heal (as they always are in the midst of Romantic literature).  Note, however, that they "afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving." The stress is on the last part of the statement:  "that I was capable of receiving."  Why?  Because Victor has created a thing so unnatural, so preternatural, so supernatural, that even nature cannot heal the character of Victor. 

"It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow, The path of its departure still is free. Man's yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow; Nought may endure..."   (Chapter X)

Again readers see the prominence of Romanticism here as Victor goes into nature (and this time to a glacier) in order to refresh and to renew himself. Of course, after creating something so unnatural as the creature, Victor cannot be refreshed even by the balms of mother nature. If readers didn’t notice this already, then Shelley helps them yet again by writing about a thunderstorm at the beginning of the glacier trip. Again, electricity (especially in regards to a thunderstorm) forecasts the creature. At first glance, Victor spies the creature far off in the distance and such anger rages within him that he feels he can “close with him in mortal combat.” When the two actually meet, Victor (interestingly enough) bids the creature to either “begone” or to stay so that Victor can “trample [him] to death.” It is interesting that Victor does not choose to ask the creature to simply depart, which, if it actually happened, would find Victor in the same state of guilt as a few moments ago. Victor’s second choice is to end the life of the creature. It should also astonish readers that Victor’s creature has such a good command of the English language. Note the following statement: “I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.” Note also the accusation that it is Victor who “drivest” the creature “from joy.” Hidden within the creature’s statement is also an allusion to the bible as well as an allusion to Milton. The story of Adam and his fall from grace in the bible’s first book of Genesis should be quite familiar with readers of today as well as readers during the Romantic time period. In regards to the term “fallen angel,” this is an indirect reference to Milton’s character of Satan in his Paradise Lost.

"I SPENT THE following day roaming through the valley..."   (Chapter X)

Continuing his adventures in nature in order to try and refresh his soul and to escape from his horrible guilt, Victor next takes a tour of the Mount Montanvert glacier which begins, of course, with a big storm (another foreshadowing of what is to come). It is here that Victor finally meets the creature. At this point, Victor wants nothing more than to murder the creature as the creature murdered (at least indirectly) two people closest to Victor. Luckily for the creature, he is good at convincing Victor to stay and listen to the events that led the creature to this point. The creature then takes Victor to his place of residence (which is a ragged hut on a mountain). At the end of the chapter, the creature prepares to tell his story to Victor. In fact, the creature’s story begins with a worthy poem.

"The silver hair and benevolent countenance of the aged cottager won my reverence, while the gentle manners of the girl enticed my love..."   (Chapter XI)

The beautiful descriptions given by the creature about the De Lacey family should not be ignored.  Here he learns of beauty and love for the first time.  He begins his true education (amidst the forest) and learns about love and respect.

"The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country..."   (Chapter XI)

Again, the creature spends much of his "early life" escaping from people trying to harm him due to misunderstanding.  This particular highlighted portion is a very typical image of villagers chasing a monster with pitchforks and torches.

"I perceived a small hut, on a rising ground, which had doubtless been built for the convenience of some shepherd. This was a new sight to me; and I examined the structure with great curiosity. Finding the door open, I entered. An old man sat in it, near a fire, over which he was preparing his breakfast. He turned on hearing a noise; and, perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and, quitting the hut, ran across the fields with a speed..."   (Chapter XI)

As the creature finally finds a dwelling fit for a human, note that he displaces someone already there.  Although amazed at the possibility of this good shelter that can't let rain or snow through, his appearance is still inhospitable to all humans.

"The family, after having been thus occupied for a short time, extinguished their lights, and retired, as I conjectured, to rest..."   (Chapter XI)

It is interesting to note that most adults have a hard time remembering even the more significant events of their childhood. It is no different for the creature. Despite the creature’s vague early memories, it is very important to note that his education begins in nature. Specifically, his schooling begins in the forest. Nature, to a Romantic writer, is the biggest teacher and healer. Further, it is important to note also the peace and serenity and simplicity of the De Lacey family. According to the most adept Romantic writer, the reason for these positive feelings would be that they are living in the midst of and in accordance with the nature surrounding them: the forest. The love and devotion found within the De Lacey family inspire the creature. The creature longs for those things as well. Specifically, it is love that captivates the creature’s interest. Note how the creature describes this feeling: “sensations of a peculiar and overpowering nature … a mixture of pain and pleasure.” He is “unable to bear these emotions.” In this way, Shelley begins to make the creature a sympathetic character for her readers.

"“This day was passed in the same routine as that which preceded it. The young man was constantly employed out of doors, and the girl in various laborious occupations within. ..."   (Chapter XII)

The creature’s depiction of the De Lacey family shows them to be poor and belonging to the working-class. Felix and Agatha fulfil typical gender roles of the time, with the male leaving the house to find employment while the female remains home to perform domestic duties. The image of this family is the first introduction the creature has to what Shelley would have deemed “civilized” society.

"bright rays of hope and anticipations of joy..."   (Chapter XII)

This chapter continues Shelley’s Romantic desire to create the creature as a sympathetic character. It is truly trying to be “good” as he helps this poor family. Further, he is trying to understand the concept of love. It is also very important to notice the focus on emotions here. Note the stress on the creature’s thoughts about “happiness” at the beginning of the chapter. The creature is very surprised that the De Lacey family isn’t happy. Because they have love (as well as their own means of survival), they seem to have everything the creature could want or desire. Much of this chapter is spent with the creature “learning” how to do good works and “learning” the language the De Lacey family speaks and “learning” what it means to “read” and “learning” how to use his imagination to incite happiness. It would not be amiss for readers to notice the similarity in consecutive steps for both the creature and for human children. Again focusing on the concepts of Romanticism, the end of the chapter is pertinent. Note the line that reads, “Happy, happy earth! Fit habitation for gods, which, so short a time before, was bleak, damp, and unwholesome. My spirits were elevated by the enchanting appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope and anticipations of joy.“ The creature is a completely unnatural creation, but even it finds solace in nature (to which all Romantics will attest).

"My spirits were elevated by the enchanting appearance of nature..."   (Chapter XII)

It is interesting that the "unnatural" creature has his "spirits ... elevated" by the very "natural" appearance in the natural world.  The changing of the seasons "almost" can make the unnatural seem more natural.

"I formed in my imagination a thousand pictures of presenting myself to them, and their reception of me. I imagined that they would be disgusted, until, by my gentle demeanour and conciliating words, I should first win their favour, and afterwards their love..."   (Chapter XII)

Now readers will see another aspect of human life the creature discovers:  imagination.

"utter the words good spirit, wonderful..."   (Chapter XII)

The De Lacey family uses these words to describe the creature. However, after being so disgusted by his own appearance and due to not understanding the nuances of the language, the creature fails to understand the significance of the description.

"As the sun became warmer, and the light of day longer, the snow vanished, and I beheld the bare trees and the black earth..."   (Chapter XII)

Readers should realize here that the creature speaks of the change of season (from winter to spring).

"how was I terrified when I viewed myself in a transparent pool..."   (Chapter XII)

It is important to note here that the creature does catch a glimpse of himself in a pond and immediately notices the difference of the natural (all the various complexions of the De Lacy family, both old and young) and the unnatural (the creature himself).  Again, readers should note this as a very Romantic idea.

"I discovered the names that were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse; I learned and applied the words, fire, milk, bread, and wood..."   (Chapter XII)

Note the length of time the creature takes to determine the language of the family.

"poverty; and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree. Their nourishment consisted entirely of the vegetables of their garden, and the milk of one cow, which gave very little during the winter, when its masters could scarcely procure food to support it..."   (Chapter XII)

Note that the creature takes a considerable amount of time to distinguish the reason for unhappiness here: poverty (in the form, at least, of  hunger).

"They were not entirely happy. The young man and his companion often went apart, and appeared to weep. I saw no cause for their unhappiness; but I was deeply affected by it. If such lovely creatures were miserable, it was less strange that I, an imperfect and solitary being, should be wretched. Yet why were these gentle beings unhappy..."   (Chapter XII)

Note the creature's observation of an impoverished family.  Because the family has love and affection (as well as the means to live), they seem to have everything that the creature longs for.  The stress on the emotion of happiness here is a Romantic quality. 

"I LAY ON MY straw, but I could not sleep. I thought of the occurrences of the day..."   (Chapter XII)

The creature created by Victor Frankenstein continues his love and affection for the De Lacey family throughout this chapter. The creature becomes more and more enamored of them as he hears their plight (which is the ever so common plight of the poor). They are hungry and have been forced to relocate to Germany (from France). As a result, the family speaks French fluently and, as they discuss their family situation, the creature learns the French language as well. The creature desires to be “good” and tries to help the family by doing chores (such as doing the hefty work of moving firewood and completing chores around the house), but only at night in order to hide his appearance. The family notices that someone or something is helping them and starts to call the creature a “good spirit.” The creature has a hard time understanding how the De Lacey family could be depressed. They seem to have everything, including love. The creature longs to be one of them and show himself to them. Unfortunately, one day the creature catches a glimpse of itself due to its reflection in a pond. The creature now understands that a family such as the De Lacey family may consider his appearance gruesome. Still, the creature is determined to do good work.

"What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans..."   (Chapter XIII)

To return to the very Romantic concepts of both feelings and emotions, note the two which the creature has now come upon:  anger and frustration.

"And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man..."   (Chapter XIII)

Note how watching the happiness (and specifically how watching the love) of the De Lacey family causes the creature to eventually question its creator.  Thus readers move again from the natural (young love and family and nature) to the unnatural (to the creature and using science to do unnatural things).

"Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, every trait of sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantly expressed a degree of ecstatic joy, of which I could hardly have believed it capable; his eyes sparkled as his cheek flushed with pleasure; and at that moment I thought him as beautiful as the stranger..."   (Chapter XIII)

A beautiful description of two young lovers meeting each other after a long absence.

"Spring advanced rapidly; the weather became fine, and the skies cloudless. It surprised me that what before was desert and gloomy should now bloom with the most beautiful flowers..."   (Chapter XIII)

Shelley, a true Romantic writer, couldn't allow spring to appear (even amid a novel such as Frankenstein) to describe the beauty of nature in all of her splendor.

"for so I loved, in an innocent, half-painful self-deceit, to call them..."   (Chapter XIII)

This chapter is important in regards to the nature of knowledge and how it is attained, but has its roots in “man’s” place in the world. The creature realizes that each human he has come upon has a place. Truly, the De Lacey family with one member after another playing a significant role. The creature, being unnatural as it is, does not feel a fit with society. It has no “place” in the world. This begins to incite another feeling in the creature: anger. The creature begins to ask the question “why?” and wonder where he belongs. Note that these questions can only be answered when the creature comes upon its creator: Victor. One can consider this a bit of foreshadowing for what readers already know will happen: a meeting between the creator and the created.

"I NOW HASTEN to the more moving part of my story..."   (Chapter XIII)

During this chapter readers, as well as the creature, are presented with the ideas and beauties surrounding young love in the characters of Felix and Safie. Felix has been a hero to Safie because he saved her father from death and then found a safe place for her (a convent). Safie is of a different heritage than Felix (in that she is Turkish). As Felix attempts to teach Safie the language, the creature benefits as well. Previously the creature has tried to learn the language, but was unable to attain more than a rudimentary knowledge. Now with Felix teaching Safie, better learning becomes possible for the creature. Further, readers (and the creature) get a lesson in European history as Safie learns it as well. Even though the creature continues to reside in the hut beside the cottage and even though it is the creature who is protecting the De Lacey family, the creature speaks of the De Lacey family as its “protectors.” As this learning is going on, the creature begins to have questions for its creator.

"The Italian had mentioned the name of the spot for which they were bound; and, after her death, the woman of the house in which they had lived took care that Safie should arrive in safety at the cottage of her lover..."   (Chapter XIV)

It should be interesting for readers to observe the De Lacey’s family’s status when they lived in France. Although not quite a part of the French aristocracy, they would definitely be considered well off. As is still the case in Europe, many foreigners (especially those of Islamic descent) are looked down upon just because they are strangers to the land. Because there is no reason why Safie’s father is taken into custody, the reader must assume this injustice is the case. In fact, this chapter is full of injustices: the injustice of Safie’s father being deprived of his land, the injustice of Safie’s father being imprisoned, the injustice of Safie’s father being condemned to death, the injustice of Safie suffering from her father’s fate, the injustice of Safie having to flee her homeland, the injustice of Felix being condemned for his compassion, the injustice of Agatha and De Lacey (himself) being thrown in prison for Felix’s plan, the injustice of the entire De Lacey family being deprived of their land, the injustice of the De Lacey family being deprived of their wealth, the injustice of the De Lacey family being forced to flee their homeland, and finally the injustice of Safie’s father being completely ungrateful for the De Lacey family’s sacrifice. Why is all of this injustice important? Well, similar to Shelley’s focus on the unjust treatment of Justine, this helps the creature understand that there are many creatures (not just himself) that have injustice inflicted upon them. In regards to the character of Felix, it is also important to note how he is of good moral standing. In fact, he didn’t even know of Safie when he began to defend her father. This shows that Felix has true compassion for the stranger and true righteous anger for the afflicted. It is only later that Felix meets Safie and falls in love with her (much to the surprise and unfortunate chagrin of Safie’s Muslim father).

"SOME TIME ELAPSED before I learned the history of my friends..."   (Chapter XIV)

This chapter contains the rich history of the De Lacey family through the eyes of the creature. In fact, it is about the De Lacey family’s fall from society (and give an apt reason for why the family seems unhappy in their state of life). When they lived in France, the De Lacey family was held in high esteem. They were of good social standing and also quite wealthy. Due to the family’s, and specifically Felix’s, compassion, the family has now lost both their standing and their wealth (as well as their country of residence). Felix felt compassion for Safie’s father (who, of course, is of Turkish descent) who was sentenced to death at the gallows. Felix (as well as Safie’s father) felt that the punishment to be inflicted was too harsh and a result of a faulty French justice system. Felix decides to come to Safie’s father’s aid in order to secure his release. Unfortunately, before the plot is hatched, the French government discovers the plan and stops its progress. Due to this unfortunate event, the entire De Lacey family (not just Felix) falls from grace in the eyes of France. Safie’s father manages to escape; however, as a result, France takes all of the De Lacey’s wealth due to their involvement in the matter. Safie’s father, himself, is ungrateful both to Felix and the entire De Lacey family which causes Safie’s father to lose all “honor.” Further, as we have already noted, Safie has only just been able to find the De Lacey family after quite an amount of time full of trial and tribulation (including the loss of her faithful servant).

"Felix soon learned that the treacherous Turk, for whom he and his family endured such unheard-of oppression, on discovering that his deliverer was thus reduced to poverty and ruin, became a traitor to good feeling and honour, and had quitted Italy with his daughter, insultingly sending Felix a pittance of money, to aid him, as he said, in some plan of future maintenance..."   (Chapter XIV)

Note how it is the Islamic character (here the "treacherous Turk") who did not turn to Christianity and "became a traitor to good feeling and honor."  Note also how Felix does not hold this against Safie.

"The plot of Felix was quickly discovered, and De Lacey and Agatha were thrown into prison..."   (Chapter XIV)

Note another piece of injustice from the French government:  Agatha and De Lacey are put in prison for what is considered the sin of Felix.  Therefore, the entire family is punished.

"He loathed the idea that his daughter should be united to a Christian; but he feared the resentment of Felix..."   (Chapter XIV)

Note here that Safie's father plans to remain true to his Islamic faith, but cares enough about both Felix and his daughter to allow the pending marriage.

"Safie related that her mother was a Christian Arab, seized and made a slave by the Turks; recommended by her beauty, she had won the heart of the father of Safie, who married her..."   (Chapter XIV)

Most likely for the benefit of her readers, here Shelley makes plain that Safie's family was a "Christian Arab" family and not fully Islamic.  In fact, Safie's father continues in the religion of Islam at this point, but can be seen as quite open and loving in that he does marry a Christian woman.  (Ironically, a bit later in the chapter, he does admit that he is a bit disgusted that his daughter wants to marry a Christian as well.)

"yet when he saw the lovely Safie, who was allowed to visit her father..."   (Chapter XIV)

It is also important to note that Felix did not yet know Safie when her father was imprisoned.  Felix, then, felt righteous anger and compassion for Safie's father that was in no way connected with his eventual love for her.

"Felix had accidentally been present at the trial; his horror and indignation were uncontrollable when he heard the decision of the court..."   (Chapter XIV)

Here readers can see that Felix has more than just compassion for Safie's father.  Felix has righteous anger towards the French government.  In fact, Felix is so angry that he decides to take the rule of law into his own hands and set the innocent father of Safie free.

"The father of Safie had been the cause of their ruin. He was a Turkish merchant, and had inhabited Paris for many years, when, for some reason which I could not learn, he became obnoxious to the government..."   (Chapter XIV)

Note here that Safie's father had become "obnoxious to the government."  Note also that there is no other reason given.  As a result, the reader must assume that the French government doesn't take kindly to strangers who were not born in France (and specifically doesn't take kindly to strangers of Turkish descent).  This is truly an injustice where humanity is concerned, and the creature notices.

"The name of the old man was De Lacey. He was descended from a good family in France..."   (Chapter XIV)

Note that the De Lacey family wasn't truly of the aristocracy, but was considered in good social standing and good financial standing as well.

"I quitted the cottage and in the general tumult escaped unperceived to my hovel..."   (Chapter XV)

It is important to note the fortuitous circumstance that the creature magically comes upon Victor’s suitcase/trunk in the woods while he is foraging for food. Could there be an idea more laden with Romantic elements? The unnatural creature, while foraging in the natural world, comes upon its treasures: the treasures of its creator. Further, the list of books found is quite important. Why? All three works are very important to the formulation of Romantic thought and, in fact, Romanticism as a whole. Let us look at each of the three works in turn and discuss (albeit briefly) how they are Romantic. First, Milton’s Paradise Lost has a long section about Adam’s interest in Eve in the Garden of Eden. The creature is entranced, but wonders why he doesn’t have a helpmate like eve. Why is this according to Romanticism? Because Adam and Eve are natural creatures surrounded by the beauty of nature in God’s garden while Victor’s creature is completely unnatural in creation and in being and is surrounded only by his small hut, exiting only under cover of darkness. Second, Goethe’s work called The Sorrows of Werter (and especially in the suicide of the main character) focuses on human emotion. Emotion (sorrow) is even in its very title. The focus on emotion (and not just sorrow and love, mind you, but any emotion) is a large focus of Romantic thought. Thirdly, Plutarch’s work called The Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans does compare the Roman and the Greek, but focuses mainly on the victory of such natural creations of the human body. Both Greeks and Romans are able to move forward in history and make such advances because they took advantage of their own humanity, naturally formed. Finally, Victor’s own notebooks prove the very unnatural way the creature was created. This is the ultimate Romantic truth for the creature: he can never be like everyone else and will always be “alone.” And as is so often the case, the creature should have been careful what it wished for. As soon as the creature is able to find out exactly how it came into existence and something more about its creator, the creature is disgusted at the findings. Why? Because in the grand scheme of Romantic thought, the creature is not a “natural” being. There is also a grand use of dramatic irony when the creature finally approaches the blind De Lacey in the cottage. The creature speaks of his friends and how important they are to it. De Lacey, in his blindness and not seeing the creature, tells the creature to depend on those friends. The reader knows that the blind De Lacey speaks of his own family; however, De Lacey himself has no idea that he is doing so. Of course, the reaction of the De Lacey family members who can see how unnatural a being the creature is, proves to be a very Romantic reaction. Nature contains refreshment and beauty. Anything unnatural is to be avoided.

"SUCH WAS THE history of my beloved cottagers..."   (Chapter XV)

After expressing that the creature has learned much about virtue from learning the history of the De Lacey family, the creature then makes a startling discovery: Victor’s “portmanteau” (which is basically a piece of luggage that has two equal compartments) that has a few books and clothes and notes within it. The creature wastes no time in exploring the books. The books within Victor’s coat are as follows: Paradise Lost (by John Milton), The Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans (by Plutarch), The Sorrows of Werter (by Goethe), and the notes of Victor himself (specifically notes on the creation of the creature). Shelley then describes them each in turn and in the words of the creature. Goethe’s work contains letters about a very compassionate and tenacious young man who ends up taking his own life due to his continual focus on emotion. Plutarch’s work is a work of comparison and contrast between the virtues of Greek and Roman heroes. John Milton’s work is an expansion of the book of Genesis where man is created and falls from grace. The main character of Milton’s work being Satan himself. Of course, it is Victor’s own notebooks that fascinate the creature the most. Here the creature learns of his own creation and how very unnatural his creation was. The creature is interested and yet revolted and terrified in learning these things about himself, but glad he has at least learned how he came to be. Meanwhile, the creature notices that the De Lacey family is happier and more content now that Safie has arrived and is settled. Continuing to long for love and affection from the De Lacey family, the creature decides to introduce himself to the blind father when the rest of the family is away. The creature finally reveals to the blind man that the De Lacey family is considered his friends, and the family returns at that moment. When beholding the unnatural being before them, the girls either faint or flee while Felix tries to fight the creature. Even though the creature admits that he could have killed them, the creature decides to simply run sadly from the cottage.

"Now is the time!—save and protect me! You and your family are the friends whom I seek. Do not you desert me in the hour of trial..."   (Chapter XV)

This is an interesting turning point of the chapter.  The creature takes a chance and reveals itself to the old man.  Or, at least, reveals that the "friends" the creature speaks of are the De Lacey family.

"I revolved many projects; but that on which I finally fixed was, to enter the dwelling when the blind old man should be alone. I had sagacity enough to discover that the unnatural hideousness of my person was the chief object of horror with those who had formerly beheld me..."   (Chapter XV)

Note that because of the hideous and unnatural looks of the creature's body, he resolves to present himself only to the old man who is blind.

"They loved, and sympathised with one another; and their joys, depending on each other, were not interrupted by the casualties that took place around them. The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness; my heart yearned to be known and loved by these amiable creatures..."   (Chapter XV)

Again, the creature's main desire is to be known and loved by the De Lacey family.  Only now, at the end of this paragraph, does the creature admit that "I did not believe myself utterly unworthy of it."  Perhaps it is time that the creature try something else?  That is  precisely what happens.

"It was your journal of the four months that preceded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with accounts of domestic occurrences. You, doubtless, recollect these papers. Here they are..."   (Chapter XV)

Here the use of the words "you" and "your" are significant.  Readers remember that the creature is speaking to Victor at a future time.  If readers hadn't suspected by this point, they should now know that it is Victor's suitcase that was found.  It was Victor's coat.  It is Victor's papers containing the creation of the creature.

"Induced by these feelings, I was of course led to admire peaceable lawgivers..."   (Chapter XV)

An interesting Romantic notion that the creature learns to "admire peaceable lawgivers" through Plutarch's book.  Considering the concentration on justice (or shall we say injustice) the creature is relieved to learn that justice does exist in some societies.  Further, the creature learns the feelings and actions of heroes and desires to be one itself.

"containing several articles of dress and some books. I eagerly seized the prize, and returned with it to my hovel..."   (Chapter XV)

It is interesting that the creature finds Victor's very precious treasures in the midst of nature, quite a Romantic concept indeed.

"which shattered the flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness and gentleness which I had entertained but a few moments before gave place to hellish rage and gnashing of teeth...."   (Chapter XVI)

Here, the shot that shatters the creature’s flesh and bones also shatters his kindness and gentleness. This is the moment at which the creature fully relinquishes his benevolence.

"I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator..."   (Chapter XVI)

Remember that when he fled, the creature clothed himself in one of Victor’s coats. In the coat, Victor had stashed notebooks explaining the scientific process he used to create his monster. These are the “papers” to which the creature refers. Since these papers are the creature's creation story, these notebooks can be seen as a type of Bible.

"have the same defects. This being you must create..."   (Chapter XVI)

In this chapter, readers should release (at least some) of their sympathy or empathy for the monster. Why? He has chosen to lower himself to the level of that “humanity” that he has come upon: hatred. When the monster was misunderstood and despised, but still desired to do good, readers could take pity. However, when murder is involved (as well as other acts lacking in compassion), then the only sympathy left is to say that the creature is simply the product of his situation and, therefore, cannot be blamed for his behavior. He is no longer benevolent. The creature is now malevolent. Someone who is truly good (or even any creature who is truly good) will give with no thought of return. The creature has now turned from this compassionate policy. And yet, readers notice something peculiar even when trying desperately to nix the creature’s humanity. In regards to interpretation, note the following line from this very important chapter: “This was then the reward of my benevolence!” The creature here speaks of the reaction of the little girl’s caregiver to the creature’s saving her from drowning. Note that it is the concept of “reward” that the creature mentions (and quite possibly seeks). Is this an inhuman or a human trait? Is this an unnatural or a natural desire: the desire for reward? Perhaps it is human to desire a reward. Perhaps, then, it is divine not to expect one. Perhaps, in desiring a reward and not finding one and turning to evil, the creature proves himself to be precisely human (just not divine). Another dichotomy that deserves to be mentioned here is the difference (not only between human and divine) between villain and savior. Very often, the creature is, in reality, a savior of some family, of someone, of some thing. However, the creature is also, in reality, treated as exactly the opposite: a villain. What would be a typical “human” reaction to this dichotomy? Again, this is interesting to consider. One would be amiss if one didn’t mention Shelley’s grand use of suspense here. The creature captures an innocent boy with whom it wants to plead its case. The little boy is William. He is destined for death. The series of events creates great suspense in most every interested reader. This chapter also serves as a turning point because both Victor and the creature become united in their story by the end. Readers will remember that this is, in essence, a frame story. Victor began the story and, when he met the creature, the creature begins to tell its story. Here at the end of this chapter, the creature's explanation, Victor's character's explanation, and the author's explanation become one and the same story.  Here, hidden between the lines of the text is the moment when the creature spies Victor and pursues him across the icy glacier and demands to tell its story. The demand to tell its story is followed by another demand: for Victor to create the creature a “companion” that should be “of the same species.” It is in this way (and the only way) that the creature will no longer be alone.

"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..."   (Chapter XVI)

Again, here we have an effort to exact control, this time over its own creator.  A "reward," so to speak, for being utterly alone:  a mate.

"CURSED, CURSED CREATOR..."   (Chapter XVI)

The creature flees from its hut in anger, all the while cursing his creator (Victor). In his rage, the creature decides to wreak havoc in nature and begins to destroy as much as it can of the natural world of the forest (until it exhausts itself). After being renewed by the same nature it tried to destroy, the creature decides that it was too “hasty” in judging the De Lacey family. The creature returns to its hut only to discover that the De Lacey family (and all of its members) have vacated the premises. The creature learns this by listening to a conversation between Felix and the landlord of the cottage. The De Lacey family has decided not to return because of “danger” and “horror.” The creature sets fire to the cottage and goes off on his own. It isn’t long before the creature decides to seek its own “father” (its own “creator”). In his wanderings toward Geneva (that he learned geography from Safie and acquired a map somehow), the creature sees a little girl slip and fall into a raging, icy river. The creature immediately jumps up to save the girl, only to be shot and wounded by her caregiver. The creature continues to wander to where it hopes its creator’s country might be. Soon it comes upon a little boy and it decides to grab this innocent child and convince him that the creature is good and friendly. The little boy struggles so very much and calls the creature so many names and throws the creature so many threats that, only in its attempt to silence the boy, the creature kills the boy. The little boy was William Frankenstein: Victor’s brother. Again, here, readers learns the truth:  just how Justine comes in contact with the locket.  During the night she always admitted to passing in the barn waiting for the gates to open, the creatures slips in and puts the locket in her clothing. It is at this point that the creature comes upon Victor in the snow. It is at this point that the creature’s story and Victor’s story become one and the same. And it is at this point that the creature makes his request/demand for a wife, or in its own words “a companion” that “must be of the same species.”

"At length I wandered towards these mountains, and have ranged through their immense recesses, consumed by a burning passion which you alone can gratify. We may not part..."   (Chapter XVI)

This is an important turning point of the  novel that few readers notice.  Here at the end of this chapter, the creature's story, Victor's character's story, and the author's story become one and the same.  It is here that the creature meets Victor on the glacier, and it is during this meeting that the creature demands to tell its story.  This is the result:  the demand for a wife.

"A woman was sleeping on some straw; she was young: not indeed so beautiful as her whose portrait I held; but of an agreeable aspect, and blooming in the loveliness of youth and health..."   (Chapter XVI)

Again, here, readers learn the truth:  just how Justine comes in contact with the locket.  During the night she always admitted to passing in the barn waiting for the gates to open, the creatures slips in and puts the locket in her clothing.

"Hideous monster! let me go. My papa is a Syndic—he is M. Frankenstein— he will punish you. You dare not keep me..."   (Chapter XVI)

The reader learns the truth at this very moment.  The creature is in Geneva.  The creature has found his creator's home.  The little boy is William:  Victor's little brother.  The reader knows the little boy is destined for death.  This part is a beautiful example of suspense on the part of Shelley, the author.

"If, therefore, I could seize him, and educate him as my companion and friend, I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth. “Urged by this impulse, I seized on the boy as he passed and drew him towards me. As soon as he beheld my form, he placed his hands before his eyes and uttered a shrill scream: I drew his hand forcibly from his face, and said, ‘Child, what is the meaning of this? I do not intend to hurt you; listen to me.’ “He struggled violently. ‘Let me go,’ he cried; ‘monster! ugly wretch..."   (Chapter XVI)

Note that, again, the creature desires benevolence at first.  It wants only to plead his cause to the little boy (at this point the "unknown" little boy) in order to show it is really a good "person."  Again, the creature desires compassion as a "reward."

"This was then the reward of my benevolence..."   (Chapter XVI)

Note that it is the concept of “reward” that the creature mentions and, in fact, seeks. Is this trait human or inhuman?  Is this desire natural or unnatural?  (That is, the desire for a reward.)  Perhaps it is quite natural for all of humanity to desire a reward.  If this is so, then maybe it is actually "divine" not to expect one.  Can we expect that kind of compassionate divinity from an unnatural creature? Then, just maybe, because the creature desires a reward for its benevolence, doesn't find one, is in fact punished, and turns to evil. Perhaps this makes it more human than ever before.

"She continued her course along the precipitous sides of the river, when suddenly her foot slipt, and she fell into the rapid stream. I rushed from my hiding-place; and, with extreme labour from the force of the current, saved her, and dragged her to shore. She was senseless; and I endeavoured by every means in my power to restore animation..."   (Chapter XVI)

Note how, in the case of an emergency, one's true presence always seems to come out.  As inhuman as it is, the creature immediately jumps to the aid of the little girl. It jumps not to murder, but out of compassion.  Unfortunately, the creature finds that humanity does not have such magnanimous intentions.  The creature is shot and wounded, never to be the same again.

"At length the thought of you crossed my mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator; and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life..."   (Chapter XVI)

Through its despair, the creature longs (again) for its own "father" (or its own "creator").

"For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom, and I did not strive to control them; but, allowing myself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death..."   (Chapter XVI)

Note the huge dichotomy of the creature's emotions:  from revenge to hatred to loss of control to malevolence.  This focus on emotion (and the description of such) is a very Romantic quality, even though the creature itself is highly unnatural.

"t is utterly useless,’ replied Felix; ‘we can never again inhabit your cottage..."   (Chapter XVI)

Here, readers learn the truth:  the De Lacey family not only vacated the premises but has promised never to return due to "danger" and "horror."

"All there was at peace..."   (Chapter XVI)

Why is the cottage at peace?  The family has vacated the premises, too angry with the creature to remain. 

"The pleasant sunshine, and the pure air of day, restored me to some degree of tranquillity; and when I considered what had passed at the cottage, I could not help believing that I had been too hasty in my conclusions..."   (Chapter XVI)

Here, another interesting Romantic concept:  nature restores the individual (albeit an unnatural one).  In this case it is the natural development of sunshine and fresh air that somewhat renews its soul and the creature wishes to note the actual result (instead of the result of overreaction).

"bore a hell within me; and finding myself unsympathised with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin..."   (Chapter XVI)

It is important to note the all-important simile that precedes this annotation:  "I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me."  Here the creature has made a conscious decision (and final recognition) that he is like satan.  He wants to "spread havoc and destruction" and then "enjoyed the ruin."  Readers should feel a bit less sympathy at this point.  Or perhaps readers just feels even more sad for the creature.

"I gave vent to my anguish in fearful howlings. I was like a wild beast that had broken the toils; destroying the objects that obstructed me, and ranging through the wood with a stag-like swiftness..."   (Chapter XVI)

This is the first real sign that the monster is losing his benevolence.  Suddenly, instead of working with nature, he works against nature:  a force of destruction to all things natural.

"I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge..."   (Chapter XVI)

Note the desperation of the creature when his host family despises him and, in fact, flees from him.  Its attempts at friendship and benevolence were all for naught. 

"I consent to your demand, on your solemn oath to quit Europe for ever..."   (Chapter XVII)

Here, the creature finally proves himself to be Victor's intellectual equal.  Victor has agreed at this moment to make the creature a companion.

"The prospect of such an occupation made every other circumstance of existence pass before me like a dream; and that thought only had to me the reality of life..."   (Chapter XVII)

This chapter is a grand argument: a give and take between the creator and the created. Because both give and believe in solid and rational reasoning, the two (Victor and the creature) can be seen as equals at this point, and in fact, many scholars consider them to be so. (In fact, there are times within the text that readers may get confused as to exactly who is talking: Victor or the creature.) This eNotes educator finds it fascinating that the creature uses the word “mate” in regards to the companion it desires. A mate is most often associated with sexual interaction (and family interaction). Due to the observance of the De Lacey family, the creature would have been quite knowledgeable with the family interaction; however, the sexual interaction has probably been hidden from him. One must wonder why he grasped onto the one husband and wife (pending) relationship that the creature knew of: Felix and Safie. Why request a mate instead of a daughter? A friend (as Safie is to the father)? One can understand, however, why the creature didn’t request a father: Victor is the creature’s “father.” However, all relationships with this unnatural creature will be at their root unnatural. Therefore, the creature can be seen as equals with Victor in intellect and argument; however, the creature can never truly approach humanity. It is readers' speculation only in regards to whether the creature actually has a soul. Another interesting interpretation of this chapter involves the creature’s food. The creature claims to eat only acorns and berries: natural food. The creature uses this as an example how he is not like human. However, the first humans were always hunters and gathers. The creature seems to only see the “hunters” part of the equation. Humans “gather” as well, perhaps not acorns, but berries and other nuts. What is interesting from a Romantic perspective is that the unnatural creature eats the most natural of foods and yet considers carnivorous eating to be of humanity. To further the Romantic idea of the natural vs. the unnatural, one must realize that the creature almost becomes “supernatural” in his expectations of Victor’s progress on the mate. The creature first demands the work be done and then promises to "watch their progress with unutterable anxiety” and then show up when the work is “ready.” There is no indication on how the creature will accomplish this, except in the same fashion that he learned of the De Lacey cottagers. Finally, due to the natural vs. the unnatural, is the family’s reaction to Victor’s looks when he returns to make the creature’s mate. “My haggard and wild appearance awoke intense alarm; but I answered no question, scarcely did I speak.” Because of his unnatural doings while Victor was away, he has turned into the traditional “mad scientist” persona. Again, Romanticism finds its voice. Humans are renewed by the natural and aged by the unnatural.

"THE BEING FINISHED speaking, and fixed his looks upon me in the expectation of a reply..."   (Chapter XVII)

With the creature having finished its tale, it sits waiting for a response from Victor. (Of course, the creature has just requested that Victor make it a mate.) At first, Victor refuses, but then hears the creature’s intelligent retort, one of the most pertinent lines being this: “I will revenge my injuries: if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” The creature also promises that, if Victor agrees to making a companion, the creature and its mate will move far away, to a different continent, to South America. In this way, the creature promises that it will never be seen or heard from again. Victor and the creature have a graphic discussion back and forth one moment being on the side of anger and the next moment being on the side of compassion. After hearing the creature’s plans, Victor relents and agrees to make a female for the creature. Victor has his own demands: that the creature give his “solemn oath to quit Europe for ever.” The creature gives his oath to do so and then departs across the mountains of ice. Victor Frankenstein leaves immediately for Geneva to start on his new gruesome project. Now so very steeped in the unnatural, Victor looks as wild as his ideas prove to be. The family reacts accordingly: “My haggard and wild appearance awoke intense alarm; but I answered no question, scarcely did I speak.” Victor cannot be concerned with the family’s reaction. In fact, Victor feels banned from compassion because of his past actions; therefore, he gets right to work making a mate for the creature.

"My haggard and wild appearance awoke intense alarm; but I answered no question, scarcely did I speak..."   (Chapter XVII)

Note the family's reaction to Victor Frankenstein's appearance.  True to the characteristics of Romanticism, Victor has changed.  Earlier in his life when he was steeped in the "natural," Victor was simply obsessed with science.  Now, steeped in the "unnatural" Victor is "wild" and "haggard."  Victor is very much the exaggerated image of what our modern world calls the "mad scientist."

"Depart to your home, and commence your labours: I shall watch their progress with unutterable anxiety; and fear not but that when you are ready I shall appear..."   (Chapter XVII)

Note the very supernatural/unnatural quality of this statement.  A demand for Victor Frankenstein to leave for home in order to start his work.  This is followed by the promise of observation.  It should leave readers with an eerie feeling, knowing the creature is going to "watch their progress with unutterable anxiety."  Further, under this observation, somehow the creature will know when "you are ready."  This eNotes educator can't imagine the anxiety that Victor must feel being watched by a being not of this world in this particular manner.

"The latter part of his tale had kindled anew in me the anger that had died away while he narrated his peaceful life among the cottagers, and as he said this, I could no longer suppress the rage that burned within me..."   (Chapter XVII)

Notice how similar Victor's wording is to the wording of the creature in regards to the De Lacey family.  Note the progression: anger to peace to rage.  (A "degree of intensity" difference even between the first and the last.)

"You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being..."   (Chapter XVII)

It is interesting to note that the creature never mentions the biological differences between male and female.  It is possible that the creature doesn't know, doesn't understand, or isn't capable of sexual understanding (in regards to the differences between actual "mates").  Readers should suppose that the creature has observed the interactions between Felix and Safie, and has learned about suitable "mates" from them. 

"At length we saw the numerous steeples of London, St. Paul's towering above all..."   (Chapter XVIII)

The two important things to remember about this chapter are 1. Its connection with Romanticism and 2. Its connection with Mary Shelley's life. First, traveling through nature and renewing the spirit are Romantic ideals.  This is exactly what happens to Victor as he travels through Europe with Clerval on his way to England. The "cloudless blue sky" and the "lovely trees" add to the "white cliffs" and create a beautiful backdrop for Victor to become cheerful again.  This idea is garnished by the final quotation by none other than William Wordsworth, the prominent Romantic poet.  Secondly, Mary Shelley took her own trip along the Rhine (say many scholars), and this trip of Victors mimic's Shelley's trip exactly.  In a way, she is recording an important part of her own story of renewal within the story of Victor's renewal.

"I lay at the bottom of the boat, and, as I gazed on the cloudless blue sky, I seemed to drink in a tranquillity to which I had long been a stranger..."   (Chapter XVIII)

Thus begins another kind of monologue of Romanticism where Victor attributes his new cheerfulness to the nature that he is observing and his friend who is helping him observe it.

"These feelings dictated my answer to my father. I expressed a wish to visit England; but concealing the true reasons of this request, I clothed my desires under a guise which excited no suspicion, while I urged my desire with an earnestness that easily induced my father to comply..."   (Chapter XVIII)

Victor's real reasoning for returning to England is to gain further education in order to create the creature's mate.

"Tell me, therefore, whether you object to an immediate..."   (Chapter XVIII)

It is not enough for Victor to promise his father that he will marry Elizabeth.  Victor's father wants Victor to marry Elizabeth now.  This, Victor cannot do because of his promise to the creature.

"“I confess, my son, that I have always looked forward to your marriage with our dear Elizabeth as the tie of our domestic comfort, and the stay of my declining year..."   (Chapter XVIII)

Here, in addition to the concern for Victor's health and mood, Victor's father's true reasoning presents itself:  a desire for Victor to marry Elizabeth.

"DAY AFTER DAY, week after week, passed away on my return to Geneva; and I could not collect the courage to recommence my work..."   (Chapter XVIII)

Even after Victor returns to Geneva, he can't seem to begin his work on the mate for the creature.  Despite his compassion, Victor still fears revenge.  He had also forgotten how very hard it was to create the creature in the first place, so he has to re-devote himself to study in order to complete the task.  For this he needs to head to England; however, because of his improvement in health, Victor delays.  In the meantime, Victor tells his father that a marriage to Elizabeth should be in the near future.  When his father requests that the marriage be immediate, Victor feels "horror" because of his yet unfulfilled promise to the creature.  Victor convinces his father that he must visit England first (although Victor doesn't tell his dad the exact reason why).  Victor promises he will marry Elizabeth directly on his return to Geneva, and wonders if the creature will even follow him to England.  In England, Victor again meets Clerval (whose cheerfulness is the complete opposite of Frankenstein's mood) and, in traveling with him, finds some cheerfulness himself. 

"I looked towards its completion with a tremulous and eager hope, which I dared not trust myself to question, but which was intermixed with obscure forebodings of evil, that made my heart sicken in my bosom..."   (Chapter XIX)

Again, there is true romanticism contained in this chapter.  Clerval (as a foil to Victor's current self and a twin to Victor's old state) loves to be surrounded by adventure and nature in that it renews the soul.  Victor accompanies Clerval, but knows of his future creating a new and unnatural creature, therefore, Victor cannot be fully renewed.  In regards to romanticism, just look at the difference between the first adventures of the trip to the north to the place where Victor decides to build the creature's mate.  In regards to the former, it was "picturesque, ... flows beside it through meadows of exquisite verdure, ... into a placid expanse of waters."  Compare that to the latter, little more than "a rock" that is "barren" where all "vegetables and bread" have to be gotten from the mainland.  A perfect place to create the grotesque, new creature. There is another, almost humorous, thought that should come to readers' minds at this point in the novel.  How exactly does Victor come upon dead body parts on a barren "rock" of an island with only a few people living on it? With romanticism, the setting is complete without that explanation; therefore, let Victor's gruesome work resume!

"It was a place fitted for such a work, being hardly more than a rock, whose high sides were continually beaten upon by the waves. The soil was barren, scarcely affording pasture for a few miserable cows..."   (Chapter XIX)

Note the difference between the culmination of Victor's journey and the culmination of Clerval's journey.  Where Victor has been truly affected by the unnatural, Clerval has not.  As a result, Victor finds the very perfect place to create the unnatural mate for the very unnatural original creature:  a "barren" "rock" like an island "continually beaten upon by the waves." 

"But I was impatient to arrive at the termination of my journey..."   (Chapter XIX)

Here readers should see that even the beautiful and natural setting found here is unable to penetrate the horrid and unnatural task that Victor has to do.  Victor, then, finally longs for nothing but to stop his journey and find a place to create the creature's mate.

"The colleges are ancient and picturesque; the streets are almost magnificent; and the lovely Isis, which flows beside it through meadows of exquisite verdure, is spread forth into a placid expanse of waters, which reflects its majestic..."   (Chapter XIX)

The grand romanticism of this description should strike readers. The "exquisite verdure" and the "placid expanse of waters" and "aged trees" among the "majestic assemblage of towers" should show nature to be a renewal of the soul.  However, not for poor Victor, who still has a laborious and unnatural task ahead of him.

"We had arrived in England at the beginning of October, and it was now February. We accordingly determined to commence our journey towards the north at the expiration of another month..."   (Chapter XIX)

It seems that five months of work is enough for a true romantic, and the two venture off again after that amount of time.

"But in Clerval I saw the image of my former self..."   (Chapter XIX)

In his younger days, before the appearance of the created creature, Victor would have loved an adventurous excursion such as this one; however, now Victor is under the spell of something so unnatural that he cannot fully enjoy anything or fully be renewed by nature. 

"LONDON WAS OUR present point of rest; we determined to remain several months in this wonderful and celebrated city..."   (Chapter XIX)

Finally, Victor (and Clerval) are in London and ready to work.  Victor begins using his old professors and such only for information and not for company (as he once did).  For five months, Victor labors away getting information and then is enticed to go to north for another break.  The two travel northward and northward, enjoying the sights (but with Victor not being able to leave "the future" behind).  Eventually, Victor can't stand it anymore and asks Clerval to do the tour of Scotland (their ultimate goal) alone.  So, on a bare rock island bereft of all humanity and vegetation, Victor commences to work on the new creature.

"and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror...."   (Chapter XX)

As Frankenstein surveys the possible consequences of building a second monster, the scale of his predicament ascends to new heights. The threat, as he sees it, is existential: to create a female monster would allow for a “race of devils” to replace humanity.

"give an account of the death of a gentleman who was found murdered here last night..."   (Chapter XX)

Now the reader sees that Victor is asked to give a testimony about the man who was murdered.  Readers assume that the creature had committed this murder.  But who is the man? 

"I do not know,” said the man, “what the custom of the English may be; but it is the custom of the Irish to hate villains..."   (Chapter XX)

In Ireland, the crowd meets the shipwrecked Victor.

"I looked on the heavens, which were covered by clouds that flew before the wind, only to be replaced by others: I looked upon the sea, it was to be my grave..."   (Chapter XX)

Here is what happens when something so unnatural as "instruments" of decay are thrown into a natural body of water:  a tumultuous storm.

"The remains of the half-finished creature, whom I had destroyed, lay scattered on the floor, and I almost felt as if I had mangled the living flesh of a human being. I paused to collect myself, and then entered the chamber. With trembling hand I conveyed the instruments out of the room; but I reflected that I ought not to leave the relics of my work to excite the horror and suspicion of the peasants; and I accordingly put them into a basket, with a great quantity of stones, and, laying them up, determined to throw them into the sea that very night; and in the meantime I sat upon the beach, employed in cleaning and arranging my chemical apparatus..."   (Chapter XX)

Here we see the truth of what is in the basket:  "the instruments" with which Victor was doing his work.  One also wonders if some of the blood and body parts were contained as well.

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night..."   (Chapter XX)

And here we find the unnatural creature actually "doing" something unnatural:  predicting the future and knowing things he should not know.  Not only does he predict that Victor will be married, but that he will meet the creature again on that very night.  A perfect example of Romanticism:  only a creature as unnatural as this could do such an unnatural thing as participate in fortune telling and sorcery.

"Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness..."   (Chapter XX)

When the creature quietly returns and asks the purpose of the destruction, Victor confirms that the promise is broken and he will not create a mate.

"I thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating another like to him, and trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and, with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew..."   (Chapter XX)

And here we see an important turning point of the story. Here Victor gives in to his doubt and destroys his new creation.  The creature watches the destruction and, in his despair, leaves.

"A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me..."   (Chapter XX)

It is at this point of doubting the entire affair that the creature appears.

"They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorrence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form..."   (Chapter XX)

Finally, Victor approaches the realm of thought and, as such, crosses bridges that he doesn't need.  Victor guesses at how both the creature and the mate will react and, due to the fact they are both so unnatural, assumes they cannot have a good end.

"I must pause here; for it requires all my fortitude to recall the memory of the frightful events which I am about to relate, in proper detail, to my recollection..."   (Chapter XX)

Although this chapter is mostly about furthering the plot of the novel (with Victor beginning to complete the creature's mate, encountering the creature, destroying the mate, and disposing of the remaining parts), what is interesting is to associate the happenings with the characteristics of Romanticism.  Look at what happens to the natural body of water when "the basket" (which generally can be assumed to contain the rest of the decaying body parts of the female) is deposited in the water, nature immediately is fouled and a storm rises up, blowing Victor away from refuge.  Of course, it also blows him where he can most easily see the next murder of the creature.  But, again, look at how even nature becomes foul when something so unnatural spoils something natural.  A further note should be that the end of this chapter should create great suspense in readers.  One wonders what "man" has been murdered.  Victor's father?  Clerval?  Time will tell.

"I SAT ONE evening in my laboratory..."   (Chapter XX)

Victor finally thinks about the possibility of the creature's mate not having the same "plans" as both Victor and the creature. Every thought of Victor's leads to an even more horrible one.  In fact, Victor ends up wondering if the whole human race is at stake because of what he is doing:  making a mate for the creature.  Suddenly, the creature makes his appearance and it is revealed that the creature HAS followed Victor everywhere.  In a fit of "madness," Victor tears apart the creature's mate in front of the creature's very eyes.  The creature runs in despair.  Eventually, the creature quietly returns and asks Victor's purpose. Victor promises to complete the creature's mate, but the creature leaves only after saying that he "will be with you on your wedding night."  Upon thinking further, Victor decides not to keep his promise.  Victor takes a small boat to sea as he disposes of a "basket" there, ... and is almost lost, but finally returns to Ireland where he meets a crowd and Mr. Kirwin, "a magistrate."  Victor learns that a man was murdered last night, and that the news of it would cause him horror, but the specifics are left to further chapters.

"“Are you then safe—and Elizabeth—and Ernest?”..."   (Chapter XXI)

This inquiry suggests that Frankenstein believes that his creature has already attacked his family. He may have sunk into such madness because he thought his family dead when he saw Henry.

"the fiend was not here: a sense of security, a feeling that a truce was established between the present hour and the irresistible, disastrous future, imparted to me a kind of calm forgetfulness, of which the human mind is by its structure peculiarly susceptible..."   (Chapter XXI)

Although quite a controversial idea, the death of Henry Clerval can be interpreted as the true death of Victor Frankenstein's former self.  Victor has always seen a reflection of his younger self, unblemished and natural, in the eyes of his young friend.  When the creature murders Clerval, Victor loses his heart it seems and becomes sick in body and in mind.  His positive and natural self are dead as well.  Other than this, Chapter 22 serves mostly to further Shelley's plot.  We learn of Clerval's death and of Victor's acquittal of the crime.  Victor, of course, continues to be tortured.

"I WAS SOON introduced into the presence of the magistrate, an old benevolent man, with calm and mild manners..."   (Chapter XXI)

A dead man has washed up upon the shore and the crowd wonders who it is as they stare at the dark marks around his  neck (the usual markings of the creature's murders).  It is the body of Henry Clerval.  Victor is sick in both heart and body and takes him months to recover enough to even go further in the investigation.  Victor is being held in the prison in the meantime.  During the trial, it is proved that Victor did not commit the crime (directly at least) because he was in his lab.  Victor is released to go home.

"sometimes he himself, who feared that if I lost all trace of him I should despair and die, left some mark to guide me...."   (Chapter XXIV)

Frankenstein and his creature are bound together by their mutual hatred of one another. The creature wants Frankenstein to pursue him endlessly so that Victor can know the same pain and torment as the creature. Frankenstein fails to realize that this is intentional on the creature’s part and convinces himself that hunting down and exacting revenge on the creature is his destiny.

"I am satisfied: miserable wretch! you have determined to live, and I am satisfied...."   (Chapter XXIV)

The creature’s statement here indicates that its plans for revenge are complete. Frankenstein has decided to continue living in order to pursue the creature. This makes Frankenstein as isolated and tormented as the creature itself, which was its plan for revenge all along.

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