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Mary Shelley

Key Questions and Answers

Summary Key Questions and Answers
How does the Monster learn to speak and read?

The Monster learns to speak by spying on the DeLacey family. He lives for over a year in a “hovel,” a small shed attached to the DeLaceys’ cottage. Through a chink in the wall, the Monster can see and hear everything that happens inside the cottage. He learns to speak by listening to the DeLaceys. When Felix DeLacey’s fiancée Safie arrives, the Monster is able to learn more: Safie is Turkish, and the Monster overhears Felix teaching her French as well as the history and politics of Europe. The Monster learns to read when he finds three books abandoned on the ground: Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives and The Sorrows of Werter. These books point to major themes of the novel. Plutarch’s Lives is about the “great men” of history, which reminds us that the Monster exists because of Frankenstein’s ambition to be great. The Sorrows of Werter is a novel about the alienation of a young man, which underlines the alienation of both the Monster and Frankenstein. Paradise Lost, by the English poet John Milton, is the most significant of the three books. It tells the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, focusing on Satan’s ambition and alienation from God. The Monster frequently compares himself to both Satan and Adam.