Wednesday, January 10, 2007

My Picks for the 5 Sexiest Film Characters of 2006.

01. Leonardo DiCaprio in The Departed
02. James McAvoy in The Last King of Scotland
03. Samuel Barnett in The History Boys
04. Ben Wishaw in Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer
05. James McAvoy in Starter for 10

And you?

Deary me, I've had a tiring day. Chelsea drew at Wycombe; fair enough. Aside from that, my eyes ache from revising, but the Perfume: The Story Of A Murderer OST is aboslutely orgasmic. I'll try and upload some of the tracks from there for your listening pleasure.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dominic Cooper in the History Boys. Much nicer than Barnett

Emma said...

Sez you, whoever you are.

jaime said...

OK, I dig the McAvoy love, but where. the. fuck. is Daniel Craig?

Emma, I know you like Crouchie and all, but he is so hot!

Emma said...

No, no, no. This is one of the cases where I "don't think like a normal girl". Daniel Craig is disgusting.

MOVIE FREAK'S BLOG said...

Kirsten Dunst - Marie Antoinette
Mia Kirshner - The Black Dahlia
Scarlett Johansson - Scoop
Charlotte Gainsbourg - The Science of Sleep
Keira Knightley - Dead Man's Chest (I'm biased, k?)

Art said...

Hey Emma, your sexiest are all guys! I like Movie Freak's selections better myself:)

Emma said...

Regarding Charlotte Gainsbourg - The Science of Sleep, I think I saw her in 21 Grams before. She's not pretty!:P

Anonymous said...

She's sexy-ugly

Freak

*I don't feel like logging into my account*

Anonymous said...

Ah, Sexy-Ugly. The phrase of 2006.

I'd use it to describe James McAvoy, actually, Ems.

Stace said...

what about Matthew McConnaghey in "We Are Marshall".... he's soo cute!

Anonymous said...

Narrative Distance in Frankenstein
Richard J. Dunn
Studies in the Novel, 6 (1974), 408-17
{408} As one of the first commentators on Frankenstein, Shelley claimed that his wife had written it for amusement and "as an expedient for exercising any untried resources of mind." To avoid "the enervating effects of the novels of the present day" she set her mind to oppose fiction's often superficial "exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection, and the excellence of universal virtue."1 As L. J. Swingle has recently argued, the novel uses doctrines to examine barriers between different centers of consciousness, but few other modern readers have noted how uniquely its narrative form is itself an expression of key romantic concerns.2 Several critics have complimented the subtlety of its concentric narration, "strangely wrought . . . with reality on the outside and horror at the core."3 Lowry Nelson, Jr., in a brief study of Gothic fiction, and Robert Kiely, in a recent book on the English romantic novel, have mentioned the general relationship between structure and theme that distinguishes Frankenstein from more conventional and sometimes enervating fiction. Nelson observes that the story demonstrates the "seeming impossibility of communicating deep feeling to someone who cares," and Kiely says that Mary's novel reveals her personal situation of "genius observed and admired but not shared."4 Whereas more conventional novels assumed communal sharing, both among characters ultimately linked in the resolution of domestic plots and also between narrator and reader in a harmonious fictional world, Frankenstein structurally dramatizes the failure of human community and implicitly challenges the reductive inclusiveness of more conventional fictional forms.
The ideal of community is distinctly stated but usually held at a distance in Frankenstein. At the heart of the story, motivating the Creature's desire for a mate and provoking his plea, "My virtues will neces- {409} sarily arise when I live in communion with an equal," is the domestic idyll of the DeLacey family -- material fit for a potentially enervating novel had it appeared in a different context (p. 147). Moving outward through Victor Frankenstein's narrative, we find him expressing frequent hopes for filial, fraternal, and conjugal unions. And in Walton's frame story there is reference to distant domestic harmony. At the beginning he mentions a ship captain who had remained single to permit his beloved to marry another man. Walton regards such sacrifice the act of an uneducated mind, of a man commanding little interest or sympathy (p. 21). Yet at the end of his story, when Walton contrasts his own disillusioned solitude with his sister's joy in husband and children, he becomes less scornful of domestic affections. Thus holding the ideals of the novels of manners at a distance, Frankenstein questions the attainability without attacking the concepts of domestic virtue. Rather than conclude with a conventional resolution that in a providential plot structure would have the effect of reducing complex personalities to stage presences, Frankenstein instead portrays the yearning for deep communication that the romantic imagination held necessarily antecedent to any meaningful human community.
It is difficult to determine how deeply Walton is affected by the tales he repeats, but I think his story gives him less present understanding than potential for future reflection about his experience. As frame narrator he is less complex and not so immediately involved as Conrad's Marlow, but he is not as psychologically distant from what he hears as Emily Bronte's Lockwood. Outwardly, his seeking after adventure and personal glory parallels Victor Frankenstein's more intense searchings, and the external course of his life changes after his encounters with the Doctor and the Creature. He begins with a restless ambition, determined to discover a Northwest Passage. He acknowledges some vague force at work in his soul and admits that he does not understand himself (p. 21). He seems soon to find a friend to whom he can relate and from whom he may learn the need to surrender ambition, but at no time does he claim comprehension of his own depths. Several elements in the frame story suggest that he remains an incomplete being who returns to England with the vain hope of finding sustenance in a strange story bearing a personal relevance he can convey only superficially. He remains more fascinated than deeply informed and definitely realizes the difficulty of describing his experiences. Deciding to commit his thoughts to paper, he declares the written word "a poor medium for the communication of feeling" (p. 19). He tells the sister to whom he directs his letters and journals that he has made notes about Victor's tale because he believes it will offer her "the greatest pleasure," and he hastens to add that "to me, who know him, and who {410} hear it from his own lips, with what interest and sympathy shall I read it in some future day!" (p. 31). Like both the Creature and Frankenstein, Walton seeks an audience and occasion for his narration, and like each of them he addresses himself to a person too distant to comprehend the story's full impact. As we discover the novel's repeated patterns of thwarted domestic relationships, it becomes highly ironic that these tales have been preserved ostensibly for the amusement of an English lady comfortable with husband and family.
At the outset Walton also admits that he may some day discover a meaning that lurks in his tale, for in the process of narrative recreation he is again fascinated by Victor. "Even now, as I commence my task, his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness; I see his thin hand raised in animation, while the lineaments of his face are irradiated by the soul within. Strange and harrowing must be his story; frightful the story which embraced the gallant vessel on its course, and wrecked it -- thus!" (p. 31). Earlier Walton had likened himself to Coleridge's Mariner and had dreaded returning from his adventures as "worn and woeful" as had that archetypal voyager, but here at the beginning of his narrative he sounds more like the Wedding Guest who could not choose but hear the eerie tale. Even Frankenstein's "thin hand" and "lustrous eyes" recall the "skinny hand" and "glittering eye" which spellbound the Wedding Guest. Relinquishing the Mariner's position of narrative authority, Walton becomes a passive reporter, compelled by the figure he meets but ultimately more stunned than educated by his experience.
Just as Walton seeks an audience whose taste he misjudges at the conclusion of his adventures, so had he initially sought to impress Victor with his earlier history. Frankenstein, taking his partial knowledge of Walton as the basis for discouraging him from potential monomania, proceeds to narrate a story sufficiently horrible to eclipse Walton's more conventional history. To both Walton and readers yet unaware of the details of Victor's story, the Doctor's announced narrative purpose seems honorable. Walton quickly judges him as "not so utterly occupied by his own misery, but that he interests himself deeply in the projects of others" (p. 27). So far we seem embarked upon a conventional tale of moral instruction. Walton goes on to praise Frankenstein as elevated "immeasurably above any other person I ever knew" and as seeming to possess "a quick but never-failing power of judgment, a penetration into the causes of things, unequalled for clearness and precision" (p. 29). At this time there is little reason to challenge Walton's impressions, but as Frankenstein tells his story, the superficiality of Walton's judgments emerges. He is right about Frankenstein's "facility of expression" and {411} intonations that seem to provide "soul-subduing music," but the Doctor's narrative is plainly one of failed judgment and ignorance about others, however able he may be in discerning "the causes of things" (p. 29).
The early discussion Walton and Frankenstein have about the value of friendship further demonstrates Walton's inability to evaluate his strange visitor. He mentions his long yearning for "a more intimate sympathy with a fellow mind," and Frankenstein understandably agrees about the value of such relationships: "We are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves -- such a friend ought to be -- do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures" (p. 28). Yet the subsequent tale makes obvious Frankenstein's repeated denials of the Creature, the one friend who might have complemented his being, and here lamenting the loss of Clerval, Frankenstein totally ignores the prior claims of friendship that the Creature so forcibly argues. Ironically, the Creature proves himself wiser and better than Frankenstein, yet (perhaps because he seems but "half made up") he is the being Frankenstein cannot bring himself to hold dear. Nonetheless, to Walton the outsider, Frankenstein himself seems not only a complete but a superior man, one who appears to contain a sustaining force. Walton speculates that when his visitor "has retired into himself he will be like a celestial spirit, that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures" (p. 29). Walton could not be more inaccurate. Frankenstein's story describes the progress of folly and grief from acts of ego which drove him from all normal friendships. His entire personal history alternates between moods of lettered grief when he is with others -- the final instance being his last hours on Walton's ship -- and miseries of reflection as he repeatedly finds himself unable to share in communal relationships of friendship and love.
Frankenstein is nonetheless spellbinding to Walton, whose assumptions are strongly prejudiced by the yearning for friendship. And at the outset Frankenstein professes interest in Walton by fearing that unless checked his future course may lead to misery. But his humanitarian interest diminishes as, immersed in the telling of his adventures, Frankenstein finally considers whether to urge Walton to continue pursuit of the Creature. He compromises, thinking it "selfish" to send Walton into the chase, but he does beg Walton to kill the Creature should it appear (p. 208). Although Frankenstein urges Walton to forego ambition and seek tranquility, Victor cannot bring himself to accept his host's offer of a friendship that Walton hopes might "reconcile him to life" (p. 211). Thus rejected, yet possessed by his memory of Victor's appearance and eloquence, Walton turns to the task of communicating his experience. He begins with the familiar epistolary method and the professed hope of {412} entertaining his distant sister. But as he proceeds he turns to the more private form of a journal. At the end he simply stops and weakly remarks that he may attempt oral conclusion when he gets home. Unlike the Ancient Mariner, he has no moral summation to add as the story terminates with fragmenting abruptness. In his actions Walton is admittedly less self-centered. He heeds his crew's desires to return to England, and he displays intuitive sympathy for the Creature who appears to mourn Frankenstein's death. Nonetheless, like the Wedding Guest, he remains largely "of sense forlorn" and essentially alone. He makes no final mention that he has either comprehended or is even yet puzzled by active forces within his soul. He hastens back to the world where his sister has been sheltered, but he has nothing to say of what he expects to do there. The strongest impression of terminal solitude comes through an aside in which he contrasts his desolation with the happiness his sister enjoys with her husband and lovely children (p. 213). And in his final mention of himself, Walton asserts that while "wafted toward England" and his sister he "will not despond" (p. 215). But he cannot posit the specific hope of a tranquil domestic state, and for all we know the home toward which he points may be as desolate as the waste into which the Creature plunges. Fittingly, because Walton is the principal narrator of a story designed to combat "exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection" as ordinarily portrayed in fiction, he terminates abruptly without finding haven within the arms of a loved one.
Walton's abortive effort to entertain his sister, his inability to probe his own consciousness, and his failure to communicate deeply with Frankenstein should alert readers to his value as a distancing narrator. Unlike Conrad's Marlow, who often raises epistemological issues about his distance from his subjects, Walton never becomes ponderous to the point of obstructing his tales. Nor, on the other hand, does he fall into such self-defensive summations as Nelly Dean often supplies in her narration of Wuthering Heights. For the reader willing to share Walton's vague fascination with Frankenstein, his narrative function is well executed, for the increasing emotional intensity, unaccompanied by a narrator's potentially digressive self-discoveries, implies an intuitive sympathy of narrator with material. Certainly the lack of extensive reflective commentary by Walton adds forcefulness to the Doctor's and Creature's stories. The lack of conclusiveness of Walton's tale may even suggest the inherent failure of language that Robert Kiely mentions as romantic action's "sign not of vacuity or of imaginative limitation, but of the singular immeasurable nature of great experience."5
Although vague, Walton's experience is one of increasing sympathy for others, but the tale Dr. Frankenstein narrates is one of consumptive {413} egoism. He has sought various unions with others -- Creature, family, friend, and wife -- but has persistently placed egoistic restrictions upon these relationships. He expects his Creature to bless him; "many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me," he presumes when he gives the Creature life (p. 54). But he is so repulsed by the physical appearance of his creation that he seeks to sever all connections with him and eventually denies him the right to kinship even with fellow monsters. Understandably the Creature then becomes a threat to Frankenstein, for denied a mate, he turns upon his creator with the intention of frustrating the Doctor's further efforts to establish normal ties of love and friendship.
Frankenstein's narration contains numerous rationalizations for his pursuit of normal human relationships after having once withdrawn from communal life to pursue "secrets of heaven and earth" (p. 37). So long as the Creature maintains even vicarious connections with others he does not bother Victor, who in the meantime attempts to return to society from the isolation of laboratory and charnel house. The Doctor tries to forget his past, and later when the Creature has begun to assert his hideous claims, the need for forgetfulness increases. Stating his reasons for defying the Creature and proceeding with the forbidden marriage, Frankenstein speaks of the delusion of "calm forgetfulness" while the Creature is intent upon destroying all that Doctor Frankenstein holds dear. What the Doctor, in the enormity of his ego, does not realize is that the Creature is asserting a claim for sympathy that must precede individual happiness. Ultimately the Creature leads him on a treadmill chase, taunting him, even sustaining him to increase the pleasure of pursuit. This tense union of pursued and pursuer ends only with Victor's human exhaustion. Union of brothers, of friends, of man and wife thus yields to the Creature's claim of the ties between himself and Frankenstein. Seeking a superhuman relationship, then choosing from physical repulsion to deny his Creature human sympathy, the Doctor suffers the loss of all human relationships.
Frankenstein, as Walton was quick to observe, is a fascinatingly articulate narrator, but he, too, lacks reflective powers. He tells about his past and what he has heard from the Creature, but try as he might, he remains grossly ignorant of the Creature's plight. From the eleventh through sixteenth chapters he repeats to Walton the long story the Creature told him in the remote Montanvert hut. The Creature presents a capsule tale of anthropological socialization that Frankenstein can hardly be expected to comprehend, because just as Walton's experience had differed in intensity from Frankenstein's, so does Victor's history differ in kind from the Creature's. Frankenstein's is a tale warning {414} against excesses of personal ambition while revealing the horrors of inordinate longings for power. And Walton's less detailed, more literal account of himself presents more superficial concerns for the perils of solitary adventure. In short, both he and Frankenstein grew anticommunal in their quests, but the Creature's is a quest for the solidarity of human community. He does not yearn for personally glorifying exploration but for socialization, and he idealistically reaches for a direct and simplified relationship with his neighbors, the peasants whose "virtue and good feelings . . . and amiable qualities" he admires (p. 112). As he watches these DeLaceys, he begins to form a sentimental attachment to them but to his sad amazement soon finds their idyllic life an exception in their age. Hearing their history of oppression, he learns "the strange system of human society" is based not upon such placid sympathies as this family's but upon "division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty; of rank, descent, and noble blood" (p. 120). Nonetheless, he tries to establish a friendship with these exceptional people and is heartlessly repulsed because, as was Frankenstein, they are repulsed by his appearance. To the reader alerted by the prefatory admonition against novels exhibiting domestic ideals, this encounter of the Creature with the DeLaceys comes as a hideous parody of sentimental fiction's blissful domestic scenes. At the very heart of Frankenstein, in the tale told by the one narrator who attempts to reach inward and connect himself intimately with the story he tells, we have the motivating repulsion that produces the book's most terrifying events.
There are two immediate effects of the Creature's encounter with the DeLaceys. He develops self-contempt and curses his creator for producing a form "more horrid even from the very resemblance" it bears humankind (p. 130). Also the experience reinforces his desire for community, the fellowship of another monster if not of humans: "I am alone, and miserable; man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species, and have the same defects" (p. 144).
The novel's seventeenth chapter concerns Frankenstein's reactions to this plea and particularly points up the separation between him and the tale he has just heard from the Creature. He is at first touched by the arguments that the Creature will find happiness and virtue in communion with an equal. But he continues to be disgusted by the Creature's appearance and regards manufacture of a mate a "most abhorred task." In one of his most elaborate rationalizations, he claims to undertake his grim labors ostensibly to save his family from reprisals, but the personal pronouns of his language betray a more personal concern. "I felt as if I were {415} placed under a ban -- as if I had no right to claim their sympathies -- as if never more might I enjoy companionship with them. Yet even thus I loved them to adoration; and to save them, I resolved to dedicate myself to my most abhorred task" (p. 149). Thus in the name of preserving a humanity that he might enjoy, Frankenstein momentarily agrees to serve the Creature by providing him with a separate community. Were Frankenstein to succeed in this, the novel might well conclude with a conventional fictional insurance of continuing domestic felicity among ordinary mortals only slightly encumbered by their awareness of a growing nation of monsters elsewhere. But Frankenstein reconsiders his obligations to posterity and curiously forgets that he had begun the second monster for the purpose of saving his beloved contemporaries. He destroys the partially formed female and vows never to resume his labors. The contradiction of motives is open to many interpretations, but surely Frankenstein, bound ever by ego, pays only lip service in both instances to the claims of other people. Heedlessly, he defies the Creature's further threats and impulsively commits himself to the marriage against which he had been warned. It may be that this second creative effort became repulsive because Victor undertook it for radically different reasons from those for the initial experiment. He made the first Monster with the hope of rounding a new species that would glorify him; it was an effort of pure ego. But in the second instance, he undertook what he considered a commissioned work, acting, if not under the direction of a vengeful Monster, under the notion of a social obligation. The first work brought joyful expectation of pouring "a torrent of light into our dark world," but the decision to destroy the second experiment comes on a night when "as the moon was just rising from the sea" Frankenstein lacks sufficient light to see beyond the leering Creature at his window (pp. 165-66).
The latter sections of Frankenstein's narrative chronicle the increasing irrationality that culminates in madness. Aware that he has incurred the Creature's curse, he returns to civilization with the comment, "how strange is that clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery!" (p. 172). And later, finding his bride murdered, he remarks that "life is obstinate, and clings closest where it is most hated" (p. 195). He has by this time tried again to forget the deaths of his friend, Clerval, and his wife. The life he finds obstinate is solipsistic and noncommunicable. It is noncreative and quite removed from even the semblance of communal life toward which he had first responded in his decision to begin a second Creature.
All that is left Frankenstein is the frustration of the chase, which, serving as the emblem of his relationship with the Creature, becomes a mockery of communicative union. Monstrous in his own revenge, Frank- {416} enstein finds himself the object of a curious, Creature-was-here game. The "scoffing devil" leads him on, taunting but also expressing a need for the chase to continue indefinitely. "One inscription that he left was in these words: 'Prepare! your toils only begin: wrap yourself in furs, and provide food; for we shall soon enter upon a journey where your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred'" (p. 205). This final chase incorporates the pains of human relationships that earlier events and narrative structure in Frankenstein reflect. Love and hate, self-preservation and self-destruction, community and solipsism are tensely bound. The chase across the waste, terminating with the grieving Creature's admitted need for Frankenstein, comes as the story's one spontaneous expression of the self-abnegation antecedent to human community. But in the context of Walton's own inconclusiveness, the Creature remains more desperate than purposeful, more suicidal than sacrificial. In anguish, Frankenstein's Creature cries out that even his worst deeds were motivated by desire for love and friendship, but now he can find no object either to love or to hate. He has nothing to do with Walton, whom he simply dismisses as "the last of humankind whom these eyes will ever behold," and after a lengthy monologue, culminating with his expressed desire to exult "in the agony of the torturing flames" of his funeral pyre, exits to become "lost in darkness and distance" (p. 223).
It may appear I have ignored the possibility that the Doctor's and Creature's narratives are but projections of Walton's subconscious that is tentatively repressed by the death of one of the interior narrators and the promised death of the other. But however interpreted, the distinct separation of narratives and the emphasis by both the Doctor and the Creature upon the need for various social relationships suggests that Frankenstein is concerned with a fragmenting society in which communication remains incomplete. Just as truly communicative union is difficult to attain in many of the novel's narrated incidents, so is it ultimately lacking among the three narrators. Walton indeed needs a friend. Victor needs siblings, parents, friends, and a wife. Preempting these claims, the Creature quite literally needs someone to talk to, but the only dialectic he establishes is one of conflict. Clearly, effective communication is pre-requisite to any human community. While one narrative of Frankenstein verbally includes another with increasing completeness of detail, there is very little reflective commentary by any of the narrators, and there are many instances of the narrators' misunderstanding one another. At the conclusion of the Creature's mountaintop meeting with Frankenstein, the Doctor confesses confusion and says, "even in my own heart I could give no expression to my sensations" (p. 149). Thenceforth his narrative is one of reaction to, not reflection upon, the Creature's acts. {417} And although Walton looks to the Doctor as a potential friend who may sympathize with him, Frankenstein regards him primarily as a host to whom he may direct a generally instructive tale.
Thus, while repeating one another's stories, which all focus on the need for human interrelationship, the narrators of Frankenstein remain half-strangers to one another. Walton admits a sympathy for both the Doctor and the Creature; the Creature finally declares the love he bears the Doctor, but at no juncture is there the communicative interchange that could sustain friendship and provide a basis for an optimistic social commentary. It may be argued that Mary Shelley was mainly interested in conveying the essence of a nightmare vision as forcefully and dramatically as possible and had no interest in developing the sense of ironic distance among her narrators. But whether the result of clumsiness or the product of design, these distances combine with the thematic issues to suggest a definite separation between intense personal experience and incommunicable narrative recollection that does much to challenge potentially enervating effects of more perfectly integrated stories.


Preface and Letters 1–4
Summary: Preface
I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together.
(See Important Quotations Explained)
Frankenstein opens with a preface, signed by Mary Shelley but commonly supposed to have been written by her husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley. It states that the novel was begun during a summer vacation in the Swiss Alps, when unseasonably rainy weather and nights spent reading German ghost stories inspired the author and her literary companions to engage in a ghost story writing contest, of which this work is the only completed product.
Summary: Letter 1
What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?

The novel itself begins with a series of letters from the explorer Robert Walton to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton, a well-to-do Englishman with a passion for seafaring, is the captain of a ship headed on a dangerous voyage to the North Pole. In the first letter, he tells his sister of the preparations leading up to his departure and of the desire burning in him to accomplish “some great purpose”—discovering a northern passage to the Pacific, revealing the source of the Earth’s magnetism, or simply setting foot on undiscovered territory.
Summary: Letters 2–3
In the second letter, Walton bemoans his lack of friends. He feels lonely and isolated, too sophisticated to find comfort in his shipmates and too uneducated to find a sensitive soul with whom to share his dreams. He shows himself a Romantic, with his “love for the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous,” which pushes him along the perilous, lonely pathway he has chosen. In the brief third letter, Walton tells his sister that his ship has set sail and that he has full confidence that he will achieve his aim.
Summary: Letter 4
In the fourth letter, the ship stalls between huge sheets of ice, and Walton and his men spot a sledge guided by a gigantic creature about half a mile away. The next morning, they encounter another sledge stranded on an ice floe. All but one of the dogs drawing the sledge is dead, and the man on the sledge—not the man seen the night before—is emaciated, weak, and starving. Despite his condition, the man refuses to board the ship until Walton tells him that it is heading north. The stranger spends two days recovering, nursed by the crew, before he can speak. The crew is burning with curiosity, but Walton, aware of the man’s still-fragile state, prevents his men from burdening the stranger with questions. As time passes, Walton and the stranger become friends, and the stranger eventually consents to tell Walton his story. At the end of the fourth letter, Walton states that the visitor will commence his narrative the next day; Walton’s framing narrative ends and the stranger’s begins.
Analysis: Preface and Letters 1–4
The preface to Frankenstein sets up the novel as entertainment, but with a serious twist—a science fiction that nonetheless captures “the truth of the elementary principles of human nature.” The works of Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton are held up as shining examples of the kind of work Frankenstein aspires to be. Incidentally, the reference to “Dr. Darwin” in the first sentence is not to the famous evolutionist Charles Darwin, who was seven years old at the time the novel was written, but to his grandfather, the biologist Erasmus Darwin.
In addition to setting the scene for the telling of the stranger’s narrative, Walton’s letters introduce an important character—Walton himself—whose story parallels Frankenstein’s. The second letter introduces the idea of loss and loneliness, as Walton complains that he has no friends with whom to share his triumphs and failures, no sensitive ear to listen to his dreams and ambitions. Walton turns to the stranger as the friend he has always wanted; his search for companionship, and his attempt to find it in the stranger, parallels the monster’s desire for a friend and mate later in the novel. This parallel between man and monster, still hidden in these early letters but increasingly clear as the novel progresses, suggests that the two may not be as different as they seem.

Another theme that Walton’s letters introduce is the danger of knowledge. The stranger tells Walton, “You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been.” The theme of destructive knowledge is developed throughout the novel as the tragic consequences of the stranger’s obsessive search for understanding are revealed. Walton, like the stranger, is entranced by the opportunity to know what no one else knows, to delve into nature’s secrets: “What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?” he asks.
Walton’s is only the first of many voices in Frankenstein. His letters set up a frame narrative that encloses the main narrative—the stranger’s—and provides the context in which it is told. Nested within the stranger’s narrative are even more voices. The use of multiple frame narratives calls attention to the telling of the story, adding new layers of complexity to the already intricate relationship between author and reader: as the reader listens to Victor’s story, so does Walton; as Walton listens, so does his sister. By focusing the reader’s attention on narration, on the importance of the storyteller and his or her audience, Shelley may have been trying to link her novel to the oral tradition to which the ghost stories that inspired her tale belong. Within each framed narrative, the reader receives constant reminders of the presence of other authors and audiences, and of perspective shifts, as Victor breaks out of his narrative to address Walton directly and as Walton signs off each of his letters to his sister.

Chapters 1–2
Summary: Chapter 1
The stranger, who the reader soon learns is Victor Frankenstein, begins his narration. He starts with his family background, birth, and early childhood, telling Walton about his father, Alphonse, and his mother, Caroline. Alphonse became Caroline’s protector when her father, Alphonse’s longtime friend Beaufort, died in poverty. They married two years later, and Victor was born soon after.
Frankenstein then describes how his childhood companion, Elizabeth Lavenza, entered his family. At this point in the narrative, the original (1818) and revised (1831) versions of Frankenstein diverge. In the original version, Elizabeth is Victor’s cousin, the daughter of Alphonse’s sister; when Victor is four years old, Elizabeth’s mother dies and Elizabeth is adopted into the Frankenstein family. In the revised version, Elizabeth is discovered by Caroline, on a trip to Italy, when Victor is about five years old. While visiting a poor Italian family, Caroline notices a beautiful blonde girl among the dark-haired Italian children; upon discovering that Elizabeth is the orphaned daughter of a Milanese nobleman and a German woman and that the Italian family can barely afford to feed her, Caroline adopts Elizabeth and brings her back to Geneva. Victor’s mother decides at the moment of the adoption that Elizabeth and Victor should someday marry.
Summary: Chapter 2
Elizabeth and Victor grow up together as best friends. Victor’s friendship with Henry Clerval, a schoolmate and only child, flourishes as well, and he spends his childhood happily surrounded by this close domestic circle. As a teenager, Victor becomes increasingly fascinated by the mysteries of the natural world. He chances upon a book by Cornelius Agrippa, a sixteenth-century scholar of the occult sciences, and becomes interested in natural philosophy. He studies the outdated findings of the alchemists Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus with enthusiasm. He witnesses the destructive power of nature when, during a raging storm, lightning destroys a tree near his house. A modern natural philosopher accompanying the Frankenstein family explains to Victor the workings of electricity, making the ideas of the alchemists seem outdated and worthless. (In the 1818 version, a demonstration of electricity by his father convinces Victor of the alchemists’ mistakenness.)
Analysis Chapters 1–2
The picture that Victor draws of his childhood is an idyllic one. Though loss abounds—the poverty of Beaufort and the orphaning of Elizabeth, for instance—it is always quickly alleviated by the presence of a close, loving family. Nonetheless, the reader senses, even in these early passages, that the stability and comfort of family are about to be exploded. Shining through Victor’s narration of a joyful childhood and an eccentric- adolescence is a glimmer of the great tragedy that will soon overtake him.
Women in Frankenstein fit into few roles: the loving, sacrificial mother; the innocent, sensitive child; and the concerned, confused, abandoned lover. Throughout the novel, they are universally passive, rising only at the most extreme moments to demand action from the men around them. The language Victor uses to describe the relationship between his mother and father supports this image of women’s passivity: in reference to his mother, he says that his father “came as a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care.” Elizabeth, Justine Moritz, and Caroline Beaufort all fit into this mold of the passive woman.Various metanarrative comments (i.e., remarks that pertain not to the content of the narrative but rather to the telling of the narrative) remind the reader of the fact that Victor’s narrative is contained within Walton’s. Victor interrupts his story to relate how Elizabeth became a part of his family, prefacing the digression with the comment, “But before I continue my narrative, I must record an incident.” Such guiding statements structure Victor’s narrative and remind the reader that Victor is telling his story to a specific audience—Walton.
Foreshadowing is ubiquitous in these chapters and, in fact, throughout the novel. Even Walton’s letters prepare the way for the tragic events that Victor will recount. Victor constantly alludes to his imminent doom; for example, he calls his interest in natural philosophy “the genius that has regulated my fate” and “the fatal impulse that led to my ruin.” Victor’s narrative is rife with nostalgia for a happier time; he dwells on the fuzzy memories of his blissful childhood with Elizabeth, his father and mother, and Henry Clerval. But even in the midst of these tranquil childhood recollections, he cannot ignore the signs of the tragedy that lies in his imminent future; he sees that each event, such as the death of his mother, is nothing but “an omen, as it were, of [his] future misery.”
This heavy use of foreshadowing has a dual effect. On the one hand, it adds to the suspense of the novel, leaving the reader wondering about the nature of the awful tragedy that has caused Victor so much grief. On the other hand, it drains away some of the suspense—the reader knows far ahead of time that Victor has no hope, that all is doomed. Words like “fate,” “fatal,” and “omen” reinforce the inevitability of Victor’s tragedy, suggesting not only a sense of resignation but also, perhaps, an attempt by Victor to deny responsibility for his own misfortune. Describing his decision to study chemistry, he says, “Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future destiny.”
Chapters 3–5
Summary: Chapter 3
I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.
(See Important Quotations Explained)
At the age of seventeen, Victor leaves his family in Geneva to attend the university at Ingolstadt. Just before Victor departs, his mother catches scarlet fever from Elizabeth, whom she has been nursing back to health, and dies. On her deathbed, she begs Elizabeth and Victor to marry. Several weeks later, still grieving, Victor goes off to Ingolstadt.
Arriving at the university, he finds quarters in the town and sets up a meeting with a professor of natural philosophy, M. Krempe. Krempe tells Victor that all the time that Victor has spent studying the alchemists has been wasted, further souring Victor on the study of natural philosophy. He then attends a lecture in chemistry by a professor named Waldman. This lecture, along with a subsequent meeting with the professor, convinces Victor to pursue his studies in the sciences.
Summary: Chapter 4
Victor attacks his studies with enthusiasm and, ignoring his social life and his family far away in Geneva, makes rapid progress. Fascinated by the mystery of the creation of life, he begins to study how the human body is built (anatomy) and how it falls apart (death and decay). After several years of tireless work, he masters all that his professors have to teach him, and he goes one step further: discovering the secret of life.
Privately, hidden away in his apartment where no one can see him work, he decides to begin the construction of an animate creature, envisioning the creation of a new race of wonderful beings. Zealously devoting himself to this labor, he neglects everything else—family, friends, studies, and social life—and grows increasingly pale, lonely, and obsessed.
Summary: Chapter 5
One stormy night, after months of labor, Victor completes his creation. But when he brings it to life, its awful appearance horrifies him. He rushes to the next room and tries to sleep, but he is troubled by nightmares about Elizabeth and his mother’s corpse. He wakes to discover the monster looming over his bed with a grotesque smile and rushes out of the house. He spends the night pacing in his courtyard. The next morning, he goes walking in the town of Ingolstadt, frantically avoiding a return to his now-haunted apartment.
As he walks by the town inn, Victor comes across his friend Henry Clerval, who has just arrived to begin studying at the university. Delighted to see Henry—a breath of fresh air and a reminder of his family after so many months of isolation and ill health—he brings him back to his apartment. Victor enters first and is relieved to find no sign of the monster. But, weakened by months of work and shock at the horrific being he has created, he immediately falls ill with a nervous fever that lasts several months. Henry nurses him back to health and, when Victor has recovered, gives him a letter from Elizabeth that had arrived during his illness.
Analysis: Chapters 3–5
Whereas the first two chapters give the reader a mere sense of impending doom, these chapters depict Victor irrevocably on the way to tragedy. The creation of the monster is a grotesque act, far removed from the triumph of scientific knowledge for which Victor had hoped. His nightmares reflect his horror at what he has done and also serve to foreshadow future events in the novel. The images of Elizabeth “livid with the hue of death” prepare the reader for Elizabeth’s eventual death and connect it, however indirectly, to the creation of the monster.
Victor’s pursuit of scientific knowledge reveals a great deal about his perceptions of science in general. He views science as the only true route to new knowledge: “In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder.” Walton’s journey to the North Pole is likewise a search for “food for discovery and wonder,” a step into the tantalizing, dark unknown.
The symbol of light, introduced in Walton’s first letter (“What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?”), appears again in Victor’s narrative, this time in a scientific context. “From the midst of this darkness,” Victor says when describing his discovery of the secret of life, “a sudden light broke in upon me—a light so brilliant and wondrous.” Light reveals, illuminates, clarifies; it is essential for seeing, and seeing is the way to knowledge. Just as light can illuminate, however, so can it blind; pleasantly warm at moderate levels, it ignites dangerous flames at higher ones. Immediately after his first metaphorical use of light as a symbol of knowledge, Victor retreats into secrecy and warns Walton of “how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge.” Thus, light is balanced always by fire, the promise of new discovery by the danger of unpredictable—and perhaps tragic—consequences.
The theme of secrecy manifests itself in these chapters, as Victor’s studies draw him farther and farther away from those who love and advise him. He conducts his experiments alone, following the example of the ancient alchemists, who jealously guarded their secrets, and rejecting the openness of the new sciences. Victor displays an unhealthy obsession with all of his endeavors, and the labor of creating the monster takes its toll on him. It drags him into charnel houses in search of old body parts and, even more important, isolates him from the world of open social institutions. Though Henry’s presence makes Victor become conscious of his gradual loss of touch with humanity, Victor is nonetheless unwilling to tell Henry anything about the monster. The theme of secrecy transforms itself, now linked to Victor’s shame and regret for having ever hoped to create a new life.
Victor’s reaction to his creation initiates a haunting theme that persists throughout the novel—the sense that the monster is inescapable, ever present, liable to appear at any moment and wreak havoc. When Victor arrives at his apartment with Henry, he opens the door “as -children are accustomed to do when they expect a specter to stand in waiting for them on the other side,” a seeming echo of the tension-filled German ghost stories read by Mary Shelley and her vacationing companions.
As in the first three chapters, Victor repeatedly addresses Walton, his immediate audience, reminding the reader of the frame narrative and of the multiple layers of storytellers and listeners. Structuring comments such as “I fear, my friend, that I shall render myself tedious by dwelling on these preliminary circumstances” both remind the reader of the target audience (Walton) and help indicate the relative importance of each passage.
Shelley employs other literary devices from time to time, including apostrophe, in which the speaker addresses an inanimate object, absent person, or abstract idea. Victor occasionally addresses some of the figures from his past as if they were with him on board Walton’s ship. “Excellent friend!” he exclaims, referring to Henry. “How sincerely did you love me, and endeavor to elevate my mind, until it was on a level with your own.” Apostrophe was a favorite of Mary Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who used it often in his poetry; its occurrence here might reflect some degree of Percy’s influence on Mary’s writing.
Chapters 6–8
Summary: Chapter 6
Elizabeth’s letter expresses her concern about Victor’s illness and entreats him to write to his family in Geneva as soon as he can. She also tells him that Justine Moritz, a girl who used to live with the Frankenstein family, has returned to their house following her mother’s death.

After Victor has recovered, he introduces Henry, who is studying Oriental languages, to the professors at the university. The task is painful, however, since the sight of any chemical instrument worsens Victor’s symptoms; even speaking to his professors torments him. He decides to return to Geneva and awaits a letter from his father specifying the date of his departure. Meanwhile, he and Henry take a walking tour through the country, uplifting their spirits with the beauties of nature.
Summary: Chapter 7
On their return to the university, Victor finds a letter from his father telling him that Victor’s youngest brother, William, has been murdered. Saddened, shocked, and apprehensive, Victor departs immediately for Geneva. By the time he arrives, night has fallen and the gates of Geneva have been shut, so he spends the evening walking in the woods around the outskirts of the town. As he walks near the spot where his brother’s body was found, he spies the monster lurking and becomes convinced that his creation is responsible for killing William. The next day, however, when he returns home, Victor learns that Justine has been accused of the murder. After the discovery of the body, a servant had found in Justine’s pocket a picture of Caroline Frankenstein last seen in William’s possession. Victor proclaims Justine’s innocence, but the evidence against her seems irrefutable, and Victor refuses to explain himself for fear that he will be labeled insane.
Summary: Chapter 8
Justine confesses to the crime, believing that she will thereby gain salvation, but tells Elizabeth and Victor that she is innocent—and miserable. They remain convinced of her innocence, but Justine is soon executed. Victor becomes consumed with guilt, knowing that the monster he created and the cloak of secrecy within which the creation took place have now caused the deaths of two members of his family.
Analysis: Chapters 6–8
Victor’s incorporation of written letters into his story allows both Elizabeth and Alphonse to participate directly in the narrative, bypassing Victor to speak directly to Walton and the reader. However, at the same time that the letters increase the realism of the narrative, allowing the reader to hear the characters’ distinct voices, they also make the overall narrative less plausible. It is unlikely that Frankenstein would remember the letters word-for-word and even more unlikely that Walton would record them as such in his own letters to his sister. Furthermore, there is the question of filtering: the recollections of either Victor or Walton, or both, could be biased, either subconsciously or consciously. The presence of these letters foregrounds the issue of whether or not the narrator is reliable.
Women continue to play a mostly passive role in the narrative. Although Elizabeth stands up for Justine’s innocence, she, like Justine, is completely helpless to stop the execution. Only Victor has the power to do so, as he is in possession of crucial knowledge that could identify the real killer. It is clear where the power lies in the relationship between Victor and Elizabeth: he makes the decisions; she pleads with him to make the right ones.
Appearing in Ingolstadt at just the right moment to nurse Victor back to health, Henry serves as the line of communication between Victor and his family, presenting him with an avenue back to the warmth of society. In asking Victor to introduce him to the professors at the university, however, Henry drags him back into the realm of chemistry, science, and dangerous knowledge that he has just escaped. By accompanying Victor on his walking tour, Henry reawakens in him a sense of health, openness, and friendly society that he had lost during his months of work creating the monster. Henry plays the foil to Victor; he embodies relentless clarity, openness, concern, and good health, in sharp contrast to Victor’s secrecy, self-absorption, and ill health.
Chapters 9–10
Summary: Chapter 9
After Justine’s execution, Victor becomes increasingly melancholy. He considers suicide but restrains himself by thinking of Elizabeth and his father. Alphonse, hoping to cheer up his son, takes his children on an excursion to the family home at Belrive. From there, Victor wanders alone toward the valley of Chamounix. The beautiful scenery cheers him somewhat, but his respite from grief is short-lived.
Summary: Chapter 10
One rainy day, Victor wakes to find his old feelings of despair resurfacing. He decides to travel to the summit of Montanvert, hoping that the view of a pure, eternal, beautiful natural scene will revive his spirits.
When he reaches the glacier at the top, he is momentarily consoled by the sublime spectacle. As he crosses to the opposite side of the glacier, however, he spots a creature loping toward him at incredible speed. At closer range, he recognizes clearly the grotesque shape of the monster. He issues futile threats of attack to the monster, whose enormous strength and speed allow him to elude Victor easily. Victor curses him and tells him to go away, but the monster, speaking eloquently, persuades him to accompany him to a fire in a cave of ice. Inside the cave, the monster begins to narrate the events of his life.
Analysis: Chapters 9–10
These chapters contain some of the novel’s most explicit instances of the theme of sublime nature, as nature’s powerful influence on Victor becomes manifest. The natural world has noticeable effects on Victor’s mood: he is moved and cheered in the presence of scenic beauty, and he is disconsolate in its absence. Just as nature can make him joyful, however, so can it remind him of his guilt, shame, and regret: “The rain depressed me; my old feelings recurred, and I was miserable.” Shelley aligns Victor with the Romantic movement of late-eighteenth- to mid-nineteenth-century Europe, which emphasized a turn to nature for sublime experience—feelings of awe, hope, and ecstasy. Victor’s affinity with nature is of particular significance because of the monster’s ties to nature. Both distinctly at home in nature and unnatural almost by definition, the monster becomes a symbol of Victor’s folly in trying to emulate the natural forces of creation.
Formerly a mysterious, grotesque, completely physical being, the monster now becomes a verbal, emotional, sensitive, almost human figure that communicates his past to Victor in eloquent and moving terms. This transformation is key to Victor’s fuller understanding of his act of creation: before, it was the monster’s physical strength, endurance, and apparent ill will that made him such a threat; now, it is his intellect. The monster clearly understands his position in the world, the tragedy of his existence and abandonment by his creator, and is out to seek either redress or revenge. For the first time, Victor starts to realize that what he has created is not merely the scientific product of an experiment in animated matter but an actual living being with needs and wants.
While Victor curses the monster as a demon, the monster responds to Victor’s coarseness with surprising eloquence and sensitivity, proving himself an educated, emotional, exquisitely human being. While the monster’s grotesque appearance lies only in the reader’s imagination (and may be exaggerated by Victor’s bias), his moving words stand as a concrete illustration of his delicate nature. For the reader, whose experience with the monster’s ugliness is secondhand, it is easy to identify the human sensitivity within him and sympathize with his plight, especially in light of Victor’s relentless contempt for him. The gap between the monster and Victor, and between the monster and human beings in general, is thus narrowed.
One of the ways in which the monster demonstrates his eloquence is by alluding to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, one of the books he reads while living in the peasants’ hovel (described later in the monster’s narrative). The first of these allusions occurs in these chapters, when the monster tries to convince Victor to listen to his story. He entreats Victor to “remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel.” By comparing Victor to God, the monster heaps responsibility for his evil actions upon Victor, scolding him for his neglectful failure to provide a nourishing environment.

Chapters 11–12
Summary: Chapter 11
Sitting by the fire in his hut, the monster tells Victor of the confusion that he experienced upon being created. He describes his flight from Victor’s apartment into the wilderness and his gradual acclimation to the world through his discovery of the sensations of light, dark, hunger, thirst, and cold. According to his story, one day he finds a fire and is pleased at the warmth it creates, but he becomes dismayed when he burns himself on the hot embers. He realizes that he can keep the fire alive by adding wood, and that the fire is good not only for heat and warmth but also for making food more palatable.
In search of food, the monster finds a hut and enters it. His presence causes an old man inside to shriek and run away in fear. The monster proceeds to a village, where more people flee at the sight of him. As a result of these incidents, he resolves to stay away from humans. One night he takes refuge in a small hovel adjacent to a cottage. In the morning, he discovers that he can see into the cottage through a crack in the wall and observes that the occupants are a young man, a young woman, and an old man.
Summary: Chapter 12
Observing his neighbors for an extended period of time, the monster notices that they often seem unhappy, though he is unsure why. He eventually realizes, however, that their despair results from their poverty, to which he has been contributing by surreptitiously stealing their food. Torn by his guilty conscience, he stops stealing their food and does what he can to reduce their hardship, gathering wood at night to leave at the door for their use.
The monster becomes aware that his neighbors are able to communicate with each other using strange sounds. Vowing to learn their language, he tries to match the sounds they make with the actions they perform. He acquires a basic knowledge of the language, including the names of the young man and woman, Felix and Agatha. He admires their graceful forms and is shocked by his ugliness when he catches sight of his reflection in a pool of water. He spends the whole winter in the hovel, unobserved and well protected from the elements, and grows increasingly affectionate toward his unwitting hosts.
Analysis: Chapters 11–12
The monster’s growing understanding of the social significance of family is connected to his sense of otherness and solitude. The cottagers’ devotion to each other underscores Victor’s total abandonment of the monster; ironically, observing their kindness actually causes the monster to suffer, as he realizes how truly alone, and how far from being the recipient of such kindness, he is. This lack of interaction with others, in addition to his namelessness, compounds the monster’s woeful lack of social identity.
The theme of nature’s sublimity, of the connection between human moods and natural surroundings, resurfaces in the monster’s childlike reaction to springtime. Nature proves as important to the monster as it is to Victor: as the temperature rises and the winter ice melts, the monster takes comfort in a suddenly green and blooming world, glorying in nature’s creation when he cannot rejoice in his own. For a moment, he is able to forget his own ugliness and unnaturalness.
Like Victor, the monster comes to regard knowledge as dangerous, as it can have unforeseen negative consequences. After realizing that he is horribly different from human beings, the monster cries, “Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind, when it has once seized on it, like a lichen on the rock.” Knowledge is permanent and irreversible; once gained, it cannot be dispossessed. Just as the monster, a product of knowledge, spins out of Victor’s control, so too can knowledge itself, once uncovered, create irreversible harm.
Certain elements of the narrative style persist as the perspective transitions from Victor to the monster. Both narrators are emotional, sensitive, aware of nature’s power, and concerned with the dangers of knowledge; both express themselves in an elegant, Romantic, slightly melodramatic tone. One can argue that the similarity of their tones arises as a function of the filtering inherent in the layered narrative: the monster speaks through Victor, Victor speaks through Walton, and Walton ultimately speaks through the sensitive, Romantic Shelley. However, one can also explore whether the structure of the novel itself helps explain these narrative parallels. The growing list of similarities between Victor and the monster suggests that the two characters may not be so different after all.

Chapters 13–14
Summary: Chapter 13
As winter thaws into spring, the monster notices that the cottagers, particularly Felix, seem unhappy. A beautiful woman in a dark dress and veil arrives at the cottage on horseback and asks to see Felix. Felix becomes ecstatic the moment he sees her. The woman, who does not speak the language of the cottagers, is named Safie. She moves into the cottage, and the mood of the household immediately brightens. As Safie learns the language of the cottagers, so does the monster. He also learns to read, and, since Felix uses Constantin-François de Volney’s Ruins of Empires to instruct Safie, he learns a bit of world history in the process. Now able to speak and understand the language perfectly, the monster learns about human society by listening to the cottagers’ conversations. Reflecting on his own situation, he realizes that he is deformed and alone. “Was I then then a monster,” he asks, “a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?” He also learns about the pleasures and obligations of the family and of human relations in general, which deepens the agony of his own isolation.
Summary: Chapter 14
After some time, the monster’s constant eavesdropping allows him to reconstruct the history of the cottagers. The old man, De Lacey, was once an affluent and successful citizen in Paris; his children, Agatha and Felix, were well-respected members of the community. Safie’s father, a Turk, was falsely accused of a crime and sentenced to death. Felix visited the Turk in prison and met his daughter, with whom he immediately fell in love. Safie sent Felix letters thanking him for his intention to help her father and recounting the circumstances of her plight (the monster tells Victor that he copied some of these letters and offers them as proof that his tale is true). The letters relate that Safie’s mother was a Christian Arab who had been enslaved by the Turks before marrying her father. She inculcated in Safie an independence and intelligence that Islam prevented Turkish women from cultivating. Safie was eager to marry a European man and thereby escape the near-slavery that awaited her in Turkey. Felix successfully coordinated her father’s escape from prison, but when the plot was discovered, Felix, Agatha, and De Lacey were exiled from France and stripped of their wealth. They then moved into the cottage in Germany upon which the monster has stumbled. Meanwhile, the Turk tried to force Safie to return to Constantinople with him, but she managed to escape with some money and the knowledge of Felix’s whereabouts.
Analysis: Chapters 13–14
The subplot of Safie and the cottagers adds yet another set of voices to the novel. Their story is transmitted from the cottagers to the monster, from the monster to Victor, from Victor to Walton, and from Walton to his sister, at which point the reader finally gains access to it. This layering of stories within stories enables the reworking of familiar ideas in new contexts. One such idea is the sense of “otherness” that many characters in Frankenstein feel. The monster, whose solitude stems from being the only creature of his kind in existence and from being shunned by humanity, senses this quality of being different most powerfully. His deformity, his ability to survive extreme conditions, and the grotesque circumstances of his creation all serve to mark him as the ultimate outsider. Victor, too, is an outsider, as his awful secret separates him from friends, family, and the rest of society. In the subplot of the cottagers, this idea recurs in the figures of both Safie and her father. His otherness as a Muslim Turk in Paris results in a threat to his life from the prejudiced and figures in power. Her feelings of being oppressed by Islam’s confining gender roles compel her to seek escape to the more egalitarian ideas of Christianity.
The monster’s fascination with the relationship between Felix and Safie lies in his desperate desire for Victor to accept him. Felix’s willingness to risk everything for the sake of someone who has been unjustly punished gives the monster hope that Victor will recognize the hurtful injustice of abandoning him. However, just as Felix’s bravery in helping Safie’s father escape stands in stark contrast to Victor’s shameful unwillingness to save Justine, so does Felix’s compassion for Safie underscore Victor’s cold hatred for the monster.
Language and communication take center stage in these chapters, as the monster emerges from his infantile state and begins to understand and produce written and spoken language. His alienation from society, however, provides him no opportunity to communicate with others; rather, he is a one-way conduit, a voyeur, absorbing information from the cottagers without giving anything in return. The importance of language as a means of self-expression manifests itself in the monster’s encounter with Victor on the glacier. Just as each distinct narrative voice contributes to the novel’s richly woven web of allusions and biases, the monster’s romanticization of the cottagers as kind and friendly reflects his desperate desire for companionship and affection.
Texts play an important role throughout the novel, especially in shaping the monster’s conception of his identity and place in the world. As his language skills increase, the monster gains a sense of the world through Felix’s reading of Ruins of Empires. In these chapters, he acquires the ability to understand the crucial texts that he soon discovers, including Paradise Lost. This text introduces him to Adam and Satan, to both of whom he eventually compares himself. In addition to shaping his identity, the written word provides the monster with a means of legitimizing his past. In offering to show Victor copies of Safie’s letters, he hopes to validate his perspective on the tragedy that has befallen them and thus gain Victor’s sympathy. His belief in the truth of the written word, however, seems particularly naïve in a novel with a narrative structure as complex as that of Frankenstein; just as he falsely assumes that Paradise Lost is historically accurate, he hopes groundlessly that his narrative can win Victor over.
One of the novel’s persistent motifs is that of the passive woman, a gentle creature who submits to the demands of the active, powerful men around her. Safie turns this stereotype on its head when she boldly rejects her father’s attempt to return her to the constraints and limitations of life in Constantinople. Her willingness to take the initiative, to strike out on her own in the face of adversity and uncertainty, makes her one of the strongest characters in the novel, despite her minor role. Like her father and the monster, Safie is an outsider; unlike them, she manages to gain acceptance. Additionally, Shelley’s depiction of her character contains a strong cross-cultural value judgment. It esteems European culture, with its flexibility, openness, and opportunities for women, over Arab or Muslim culture, with its rigidity, self-enclosed quality, and strict gender prescriptions.
Summary: Chapter 15
While foraging for food in the woods around the cottage one night, the monster finds an abandoned leather satchel containing some clothes and books. Eager to learn more about the world than he can discover through the chink in the cottage wall, he brings the books back to his hovel and begins to read. The books include Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Sorrows of Werter, a volume of Plutarch’s Lives, and John Milton’s Paradise Lost, the last of which has the most profound effect on the monster. Unaware that Paradise Lost is a work of imagination, he reads it as a factual history and finds much similarity between the story and his own situation. Rifling through the pockets of his own clothes, stolen long ago from Victor’s apartment, he finds some papers from Victor’s journal. With his newfound ability to read, he soon understands the horrific manner of his own creation and the disgust with which his creator regarded him.
Dismayed by these discoveries, the monster wishes to reveal himself to the cottagers in the hope that they will see past his hideous exterior and befriend him. He decides to approach the blind De Lacey first, hoping to win him over while Felix, Agatha, and Safie are away. He believes that De Lacey, unprejudiced against his hideous exterior, may be able to convince the others of his gentle nature.
The perfect opportunity soon presents itself, as Felix, Agatha, and Safie depart one day for a long walk. The monster nervously enters the cottage and begins to speak to the old man. Just as he begins to explain his situation, however, the other three return unexpectedly. Felix drives the monster away, horrified by his appearance.
Summary: Chapter 16
In the wake of this rejection, the monster swears to revenge himself against all human beings, his creator in particular. Journeying for months out of sight of others, he makes his way toward Geneva. On the way, he spots a young girl, seemingly alone; the girl slips into a stream and appears to be on the verge of drowning. When the monster rescues the girl from the water, the man accompanying her, suspecting him of having attacked her, shoots him.
As he nears Geneva, the monster runs across Victor’s younger brother, William, in the woods. When William mentions that his father is Alphonse Frankenstein, the monster erupts in a rage of vengeance and strangles the boy to death with his bare hands. He takes a picture of Caroline Frankenstein that the boy has been holding and places it in the folds of the dress of a girl sleeping in a barn—Justine Moritz, who is later executed for William’s murder.
Having explained to Victor the circumstances behind William’s murder and Justine’s conviction, the monster implores Victor to create another monster to accompany him and be his mate.
Summary: Chapter 17
The monster tells Victor that it is his right to have a female monster companion. Victor refuses at first, but the monster appeals to his sense of responsibility as his creator. He tells Victor that all of his evil actions have been the result of a desperate loneliness. He promises to take his new mate to South America to hide in the jungle far from human contact. With the sympathy of a fellow monster, he argues, he will no longer be compelled to kill. Convinced by these arguments, Victor finally agrees to create a female monster. Overjoyed but still skeptical, the monster tells Victor that he will monitor Victor’s progress and that Victor need not worry about contacting him when his work is done.
Analysis: Chapters 15–17
Paradise Lost, here and throughout the novel, provides a touchstone for the monster as he tries to understand his identity. Comparing himself to both Adam and Satan, perceiving himself as both human and demonic, the monster is poised uncomfortably between two realms. “Like Adam,” he says, “I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence,” but “many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me.” Scolded like Adam and cursed like Satan, the monster is painfully aware of his creator’s utter disdain for him.
The monster continues to address Victor directly, reminding the reader of the relationship between the two, the concrete situation in which the monster’s story is being told (the hut on Montanvert), and the complicated narrative structure of the novel. Furthermore, quotes like “Unfeeling, heartless creator! You had endowed me with perceptions and passions, and then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and horror of mankind” serve not only to structure the narrative formally but also to emphasize that the monster has a purpose in telling his story: he wants to elicit a reaction from Victor, a recognition of Victor’s responsibility for his disastrous plight.
The theme of sublime nature reappears in the monster’s narrative, and nature’s ability to affect the monster powerfully, as it does Victor, humanizes him. It is worth noting that whereas Victor seeks the high, cold, hard world of the Alps for comfort, as if to freeze (and hence incapacitate) his guilt about the murder, the monster finds solace in the soft colors and smells of a springtime forest, symbolizing his desire to reveal himself to the world and interact with others. “Half surprised by the novelty of these sensations, I allowed myself to be borne away by them; and, forgetting my solitude and deformity, dared to be happy,” the monster says. Unlike Victor, he is able to push away, at least temporarily, the negative aspects of his existence.

Summary: Chapter 18
After his fateful meeting with the monster on the glacier, Victor puts off the creation of a new, female creature. He begins to have doubts about the wisdom of agreeing to the monster’s request. He realizes that the project will require him to travel to England to gather information. His father notices that his spirits are troubled much of the time—Victor, still racked by guilt over the deaths of William and Justine, is now newly horrified by the task in which he is about to engage—and asks him if his impending marriage to Elizabeth is the source of his melancholy. Victor assures him that the prospect of marriage to Elizabeth is the only happiness in his life. Eager to raise Victor’s spirits, Alphonse suggests that they celebrate the marriage immediately. Victor refuses, unwilling to marry Elizabeth until he has completed his obligation to the monster. He asks Alphonse if he can first travel to England, and Alphonse consents.
Victor and Alphonse arrange a two-year tour, on which Henry Clerval, eager to begin his studies after several years of unpleasant work for his father in Geneva, will accompany Victor. After traveling for a while, they reach London.
Summary: Chapter 19
Victor and Henry journey through England and Scotland, but Victor grows impatient to begin his work and free himself of his bond to the monster. Victor has an acquaintance in a Scottish town, with whom he urges Henry to stay while he goes alone on a tour of Scotland. Henry consents reluctantly, and Victor departs for a remote, desolate island in the Orkneys to complete his project.
Quickly setting up a laboratory in a small shack, Victor devotes many hours to working on his new creature. He often has trouble continuing his work, however, knowing how unsatisfying, even grotesque, the product of his labor will be.
Summary: Chapter 20
While working one night, Victor begins to think about what might happen after he finishes his creation. He imagines that his new creature might not want to seclude herself, as the monster had promised, or that the two creatures might have children, creating “a race of devils . . . on the earth.” In the midst of these reflections and growing concern, Victor looks up to see the monster grinning at him through the window. Overcome by the monster’s hideousness and the possibility of a second creature like him, he destroys his work in progress. The monster becomes enraged at Victor for breaking his promise, and at the prospect of his own continued solitude. He curses and vows revenge, then departs, swearing that he will be with Victor on his wedding night.
The following night, Victor receives a letter from Henry, who, tired of Scotland, suggests that they continue their travels. Before he leaves his shack, Victor cleans and packs his chemical instruments and collects the remains of his second creature. Late that evening, he rows out onto the ocean and throws the remains into the water, allowing himself to rest in the boat for a while. When he wakes, he finds that the winds will not permit him to return to shore. Panicking, in fear for his life, he contemplates the possibility of dying at sea, blown far out into the Atlantic. Soon the winds change, however, and he reaches shore near a town. When he lands, a group of townspeople greet him rudely, telling him that he is under suspicion for a murder discovered the previous night.
Analysis: Chapters 18–20
The contrast, first established at Ingolstadt, between the inwardly focused Victor and the outwardly focused Henry sharpens as the natural world produces differing effects in the two men. Earlier, Henry’s interaction with the Frankenstein family and general sociability counter Victor’s secrecy and self-isolation. Similarly, his optimism and cheer in the presence of sublime nature now counter the anxiety that Victor feels in knowing that the monster pervades his natural surroundings. For Henry, “alive to every new scene; joyful when he saw the beauties of the setting sun, and more happy when he beheld it rise,” nature is a source of infinite bliss, while for Victor it has become an unending reminder of his imprudent meddling, and of his responsibility for the tragedies that have plagued him.
An appreciation of nature is not the only aspect of Victor’s character that Henry seems to have adopted: Henry is now enthusiastic about natural philosophy and eager to explore the world—much like Victor had been two years before. Victor himself notes that “in Clerval I saw the image of my former self.” One can argue that Henry represents the impending ruin of another young, brilliant man by science; one can also argue that he represents the healthy, safe route to scientific knowledge that Victor never took. In either case, Victor’s emotional outbursts strongly foreshadow Henry’s death: “And where does he now exist?” he asks. “Is this gentle and lovely being lost forever?”
The pervading theme of the passive, innocent woman—manifested in the mother who sacrifices herself for her daughter, the fiancée who waits endlessly for her future husband, and the orphan girl who is rescued from poverty—culminates in this section with the female monster whose creation Victor suddenly aborts after being struck by doubts about the correctness of his actions. Though never alive, the female monster is a powerful presence: to Victor, she represents another crime against humanity and nature; to the monster, she represents his one remaining hope for a life not spent alone. Even Victor, as he tears his creation apart, recognizes her near-humanity: “I almost felt,” he says, “as if I had mangled the living flesh of a human being.” Victor’s decision to destroy the female creature can be seen as an explicitly anti-feminist action. He fears her ability to reproduce (and thereby create a “race of devils”); he fears that, as a woman, she will refuse to satisfy the male monster for whom she has been created; and he fears that he will unleash another power into the world that he cannot control. Unlike the God of Genesis, who creates a woman to keep Adam company, Victor does not have ultimate power over his creations. His anxiety leads him to project a stereotypically male activeness onto the female creature; his decision to destroy her ensures her absolute passivity.
Victor sprinkles his speech with metanarrative comments that remind the reader of the relationship between storyteller and audience, shape the upcoming narrative, and demonstrate the narrator’s deep emotional investment in his story. “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,” Victor says, illustrating that he is overwhelmed by emotion and offering a glimpse of the horrific story that he is about to tell. Victor’s apostrophes to his absent friends serve the same purposes, adding to the emotional impact of his speech, emphasizing the poignancy of his nostalgic memories, and calling attention to the layered narrative. When Victor cries out “Clerval! Beloved Friend! Even now it delights me to record your words,” the reader senses the power of Victor’s emotion and its ultimate uselessness against the force of fate. Additionally, the mention of “record[ing]” Henry’s words underscores the fact that it is only through Walton that the reader has access to the other characters and their narratives.

Chapters 21–23
Summary: Chapter 21
After confronting Victor, the townspeople take him to Mr. Kirwin, the town magistrate. Victor hears witnesses testify against him, claiming that they found the body of a man along the beach the previous night and that, just before finding the body, they saw a boat in the water that resembled Victor’s. Mr. Kirwin decides to bring Victor to look at the body to see what effect it has on him: if Victor is the murderer, perhaps he will react with visible emotion. When Victor sees the body, he does indeed react with horror, for the victim is Henry Clerval, with the black marks of the monster’s hands around his neck. In shock, Victor falls into convulsions and suffers a long illness.

ill for two months. Upon his recovery, he finds himself still in prison. Mr. Kirwin, now compassionate and much more sympathetic than before Victor’s illness, visits him in his cell. He tells him that he has a visitor, and for a moment Victor fears that the monster has come to cause him even more misery. The visitor turns out to be his father, who, upon hearing of his son’s illness and the death of his friend, rushed from Geneva to see him.
Victor is overjoyed to see his father, who stays with him until the court, having nothing but circumstantial evidence, finds him innocent of Henry’s murder. After his release, Victor departs with his father for Geneva.
Summary: Chapter 22
On their way home, father and son stop in Paris, where Victor rests to recover his strength. Just before leaving again for Geneva, Victor receives a letter from Elizabeth. Worried by Victor’s recurrent illnesses, she asks him if he is in love with another, to which Victor replies that she is the source of his joy. The letter reminds him of the monster’s threat that he will be with Victor on his wedding night. He believes that the monster intends to attack him and resolves that he will fight back. Whichever one of them is destroyed, his misery will at last come to an end.
Eventually, Victor and his father arrive home and begin planning the wedding. Elizabeth is still worried about Victor, but he assures her that all will be well after the wedding. He has a terrible secret, he tells her, that he can only reveal to her after they are married. As the wedding day approaches, Victor grows more and more nervous about his impending confrontation with the monster. Finally, the wedding takes place, and Victor and Elizabeth depart for a family cottage to spend the night.
Summary: Chapter 23
In the evening, Victor and Elizabeth walk around the grounds, but Victor can think of nothing but the monster’s imminent arrival. Inside, Victor worries that Elizabeth might be upset by the monster’s appearance and the battle between them. He tells her to retire for the night. He begins to search for the monster in the house, when suddenly he hears Elizabeth scream and realizes that it was never his death that the monster had been intending this night. Consumed with grief over Elizabeth’s death, Victor returns home and tells his father the gruesome news. Shocked by the tragic end of what should have been a joyous day, his father dies a few days later. Victor finally breaks his secrecy and tries to convince a magistrate in Geneva that an unnatural monster is responsible for the death of Elizabeth, but the magistrate does not believe him. Victor resolves to devote the rest of his life to finding and destroying the monster.
Analysis: Chapters 21–23

Victor’s pattern of falling into extended illness in reaction to the monster suggests that the deterioration of his health is, to some extent, psychologically induced—as if guilt prevents him from facing fully the horribleness of the monster and his deeds. “The human frame could no longer support the agonizing suffering that I endured, and I was carried out of the room in strong convulsions,” he recounts of his despair at seeing Henry’s corpse, making an explicit link between psychological torment and physical infirmity. That Victor also falls ill soon after creating the monster and experiences a decline in health after the deaths of William and Justine points toward guilt as the trigger for this psychological mechanism.
Henry again serves as a link between Victor and society, as his death brings Alphonse to visit his son. “Nothing, at this moment, could have given me greater pleasure than the arrival of my father,” Victor says. As a result of spending so much time in Ingolstadt ignoring his family, and also as a result of the monster’s depredations, Victor becomes aware of the importance of interaction with family and friends. Having failed to inspire love in Victor, the monster seeks to establish a relationship with his creator that would force his creator to feel his pain. By destroying those people dear to Victor, the monster, acutely aware of the meaningfulness of social interaction, brings Victor closer and closer to the state of solitude that he himself has experienced since being created.
Victor’s formerly intense connection with sublime nature continues to fade, providing him no refuge from the horror of the monster’s deeds. No longer an enlightening or elevating source of inspiration or consolation, the natural world becomes a mere landscape within which Victor’s tragic dance with the monster plays itself out. The barren Arctic wasteland into which Victor soon chases the monster embodies the raw and primal quality of his hatred for his creation and becomes the final, inescapable resting place for both man and monster.
The murder of Elizabeth forms the climax of the novel, as it is the moment in which the monster finally succeeds in obliterating Victor’s social world. With his family, best friend, and faith in science snatched away from him, Victor can derive meaning in life only from his hatred of the monster. The crucial transition has been made: stripped of Elizabeth, the last, and most important, element of his life, Victor becomes dehumanized and develops an obsessive thirst for revenge similar to that exhibited previously by the monster.

Chapter 24 & Walton, in Continuation
Summary: Chapter 24
His whole family destroyed, Victor decides to leave Geneva and the painful memories it holds behind him forever. He tracks the monster for months, guided by slight clues, messages, and hints that the monster leaves for him. Angered by these taunts, Victor continues his pursuit into the ice and snow of the North. There he meets Walton and tells his story. He entreats Walton to continue his search for vengeance after he is dead.
Summary: Walton, in Continuation
I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.
(See Important Quotations Explained)
regains control of the narrative, continuing the story in the form of further letters to his sister. He tells her that he believes in the truth of Victor’s story. He laments that he did not know Victor, who remains on the brink of death, in better days.
One morning, Walton’s crewmen enter his cabin and beg him to promise that they will return to England if they break out of the ice in which they have been trapped ever since the night they first saw the monster’s sledge. Victor speaks up, however, and convinces the men that the glory and honor of their quest should be enough motivation for them to continue toward their goal. They are momentarily moved, but two days later they again entreat Walton, who consents to the plan of return.
Just before the ship is set to head back to England, Victor dies. Several days later, Walton hears a strange sound coming from the room in which Victor’s body lies. Investigating the noise, Walton is startled to find the monster, as hideous as Victor had described, weeping over his dead creator’s body. The monster begins to tell him of all his sufferings. He says that he deeply regrets having become an instrument of evil and that, with his creator dead, he is ready to die. He leaves the ship and departs into the darkness.
Analysis: Chapter 24 & Walton, in Continuation
By this point in the novel, Victor has assumed the very inhumanity of which he accuses the monster. Just as the monster earlier haunts Victor, seeking revenge on him for having destroyed any possibility of a mate for him, Victor now experiences an obsessive need to exact revenge on the monster for murdering his loved ones. Like the monster, he finds himself utterly alone in the world, with nothing but hatred of his nemesis to -sustain him.
Echoes of the monster’s earlier statements now appear in Victor’s speech, illustrating the extent to which Victor has become dehumanized. “I was cursed by some devil,” he cries, “and carried about with me my eternal hell.” This is the second allusion to the passage in Paradise Lost in which Satan, cast out from Heaven, says that he himself is Hell. The first allusion, made by the monster after being repulsed by the cottagers, is nearly identical: “I, like the arch fiend, bore a hell within me.” Driven by their hatred, the two monsters—Victor and his creation—move farther and farther away from human society and sanity.
The final section of the novel, in which Walton continues the story, completes the framing narrative. Walton’s perception of Victor as a great, noble man ruined by the events described in the story adds to the tragic conclusion of the novel. The technique of framing narratives within narratives not only allows the reader to hear the voices of all of the main characters, but also provides multiple views of the central characters. Walton sees Frankenstein as a noble, tragic figure; Frankenstein sees himself as an overly proud and overly ambitious victim of fate; the monster sees Frankenstein as a reckless creator, too self-centered to care for his creation.
Similarly, while Walton and Frankenstein deem the monster a malevolent, insensitive brute, the monster casts himself as a martyred classical hero: “I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames,” he says. Fittingly, the last few pages of the novel are taken up with the monster’s own words as he attempts to gain self-definition before leaving for the northern ice to die. That the monster reassumes control of the narrative from Walton ensures that, after Victor’s death and even after his own, the struggle to understand who or what the monster really is—Adam or Satan, tragic victim or arch-villain—will go on

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