Skip over navigation

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley

Chapters 15–17

Chapters 13–14

Chapters 18–20

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 Victor’s 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.

Are you ready for the test?
Quick Quiz   →

More Help

Previous Next
Monster's Creation

by fritzalicious, August 14, 2012

The book doesn't specify if the monster was created by one man or several or how he was brought to life. I think we can safely guess that the monster was brought to life using electricity because it has such an influence on Victor. SPOILER ALERT. I would also say that is safe to say that the monster was probably created using more than one man because later on Victor tears apart/destroys the monster's companion before he completes her creation. These are just my thoughts and if anyone has anything else they would like to add please comment

5 Comments

48 out of 273 people found this helpful

Monster

by madisonhatfield, August 15, 2012

When you say the the Monster was created by more than one man, do you mean that Victor was assisted by other people; or that the contents of the Monsters body were the product of more than one person?

1 Comments

61 out of 94 people found this helpful

Answer

by SexyCucumber13, November 06, 2012

The contents of the body were made from different pieces in the graveyard.

4 Comments

21 out of 37 people found this helpful

See all 20 readers' notes   →

Follow Us