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Quotes in Frankenstein

Quotes Examples in Frankenstein:

Letter II

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"I desire the company of a man who could sympathise with me; whose eyes would reply to mine...."   (Letter II)

Walton desperately wants a friend who can understand him and empathize with him in regards to his ambitions; he wants a friend “whose tastes are like [his] own.” However, more importantly, Walton hopes for someone who has a “cultivated” and “capacious mind” to “approve or amend [his] plans.” He seems to feel slightly insecure about his self-educated background and wishes that a friend can “repair [his] faults.” This implies that he acknowledges human imperfection, especially in himself. Overall, Walton’s description of such a friend foreshadows his encounter with Victor Frankenstein.

" I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control,..."   (Chapter I)

The description of Victor as an “innocent and helpless creature” from “Heaven” suggests that his parents believed in the tabula rasa principal of upbringing, or that children are born as blank slates who must be taught everything they need to know. This belief gave Victor's parents a “deep consciousness” to teach him “patience, [charity, and self-control.]” Ironically, as the story advances, the reader will realize that Victor does not entirely live out these qualities.

"It was my temper to avoid a crowd and to attach myself fervently to a few. ..."   (Chapter II)

Victor’s natural inclination is to avoid crowds and only allow himself to be close to a few people. This is likely due to his upbringing in a loving and close-knit family and why he felt indifferent towards his schoolmates. Regardless, he eventually develops a camaraderie with Henry Clerval.

"It was a strong effort of the spirit of good; but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction...."   (Chapter II)

The “strong effort of the spirit of good” represents Nature’s final attempt to turn Victor away from the path of self-destruction. However, Victor’s stubborn and prideful character causes him to ignore Nature’s efforts, making them “ineffectual.” After creating the monster, Victor realizes that Destiny, with laws “immutable,” or never-changing, has “decreed” his “terrible destruction” for his crime of creation. Shelley personifies Destiny, giving it agency and authority, emphasizes its power.

"A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me..."   (Chapter IV)

We now clearly see Frankenstein’s arrogance and ambition. While in retrospect he knows that life and death are too complicated to be manipulated by science, in this moment he lacks wisdom to see the truth behind his blind ambition. Light and dark appear again, representing knowledge and ignorance as well as good and evil. Frankenstein wishes to bring light (knowledge) into the world, but he cannot control it and, as we’ll see, he doesn’t know how to properly deal with his creation or the consequences of his actions.

"Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world..."   (Chapter IV)

Frankenstein’s desire to bring “light into our dark world” reveals him to be like the Greek Titan Prometheus, who first gave fire to humanity and betrayed the will of the gods. For this, Prometheus was punished. We’ll soon see the consequences of Frankenstein’s actions. Furthermore, words like “break” and “torrent” reveal how Frankenstein’s violent impulses and lofty dreams are typical of romantic heroes. Since he has a heightened comprehension of the world, he must exist outside society, isolated in his pursuit.

"Sleep fled from my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more, much more (I persuaded myself), was yet behind...."   (Chapter IX)

Shelley’s description of Victor’s miserable state after he realizes that his creature is a danger to humankind accurately reflects the anatomy of guilt. Victor’s crime is so horrendous that even sleep “[flees]” from him; Nature is punishing him for playing God. The lack of rest and guilt causes him to “[wander] like an evil spirit.” Such a description strengthens the parallel between Victor and the monster, who wanders in the story as humanity’s misfit. Victor’s “benevolent intentions” and “[thirst] for the moment” to apply them show how he desperately wants to right his wrong. Regardless, he is seized by guilt and thrown into a “hell of intense tortures.”

"“How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. ..."   (Chapter X)

The creature’s string of questions reflect his desperation for Frankenstein’s empathy and acceptance; the creature implores, or begs, for Frankenstein’s compassion. Moreover, the creature emphasizes how it was humanity’s cruel mistreatment that has caused his soul to no longer “[glow] with love,” and instead, to cause him to feel “miserably alone.” Not only has the creature physically secluded himself from humanity, referring to the “desert mountains and dreary glaciers” as his “refuge,” but he has also mentally secluded himself from humanity, calling humans “Frankenstein’s fellow creatures.”

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