Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Marks-5

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Marks-5


1. What does Mary Shelley write in the Preface to the 1817 edition of her gothic novel Frankenstein?

[Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Marks-5]

Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote the Preface to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in September 1817. It immediately alludes to a “Dr. (Erasmus) Darwin,” which gives some medical and scientific credence to the novel that it might not have had. Percy Shelley also mentions the German philosophical writers who, at the time, were experimenting with novels that touched on the Gothic genre, the science fiction genre, and the medical genre. Percy Shelley attempts to put Frankenstein in the context of other novels. He does not want the novel to be just a “mere tale of spectres.” Wishing for us to suspend our disbelief that the dead can be brought back to life, he sees this as a novel that is more universal in nature and that gives insight into the human condition.

Shelley aims to seek the “truth of the elementary principles of human nature” and supply some innovative ideas regarding those simple human truths. The allusion is to the age of Romanticism and the Gothic novel. Romantic ‘novels concern themselves with passion, not reason, and imagination and intuition, rather than the logical. Gothic novels frequently deal with the supernatural and remote, far away settings. Frankenstein will not be different and will adhere to the simple rules of Gothic novels. Shelley invokes the great works of Greek and English literature to act as guides and as a guideline for this work. He cites Homer’s The Iliad, Shakespeare’s Tempest and Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Milton’s Paradise Lost as works that are worthy of imitation and serve as exemplary models. He hopes that Frankenstein contributes to the body of English and world literature, perhaps equaling those previously mentioned works.

Shelley tells briefly how the novel came into being. During the wet and cool summer of 1816, in Geneva, Switzerland, several friends gathered to create and tell ghost stories. Percy Shelley mentions himself, Lord Byron, and Mary. He omits mention of Byron’s mistress, Claire (Jane) Clairmont and of another guest, John William Polidori. Polidori later published his own Gothic novel, The Vampyre; a Tale (1819). This summer meeting produced two of the most important characters of English literature: the Frankenstein monster and the Vampire.

2. 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 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.

3. In Frankenstein, why does the Monster destroy family rather than his belongings or Victor himself? 

By destroying the people whom Victor loves, the Monster importance of that which the Monster can never have and craves most of all: human companionship. In addition, he kills Elizabeth as an act of fitting revenge for Victor’s destruction of his mate. Victor has few close relationships because he is solitary by nature. He goes long periods without answering his father’s letters, and there is no indication that he communicates with his two younger brothers after going to university or that he shares grief over William’s death with his brother Ernest. Even his contact with his fiancée, Elizabeth, is very limited. Outside of the family, Victor has only one close friend, Henry Clerval, but the murders of Victor’s family and this friend makes Victor as isolated as the Monster is. At that point, Victor becomes like the Monster, cut off from society, single-mindedly bent on revenge.


4. Why does the Monster want revenge?

The creature lists a number of his grievances before he declares his “inextinguishable hatred” toward his creator, Victor Frankenstein. He says that he is “malicious” because he is “miserable”; he is “shunned and hated” by every human being he has ever met, even when he has done them a good turn. The creature recognizes that Victor hates him, and he asks, “Shall I respect man when he condemns me?” He understands that humans, once they observe him, will always hate him because of the way he looks, and he looks the way he does because Victor created him that way. He swears that he will not live as a slave, and he will not allow himself to be harmed with impunity. The creature, thus, calls Victor his “arch-enemy” precisely because Victor is his creator. Every painful rejection that the creature has been forced to endure, whether it be from a stranger whose daughter he just rescued to the DeLacey family to the child, William, has been the result of Victor’s creation of him as a hideous creature, and so he blames Victor for all of his misery. Ultimately, he promises that he will devote himself to Victor’s own destruction, compelling Victor to feel as alone as the creature, himself, feels. Frankenstein for abandoning him after his creation: The Monster hates abandoned me: and, in the bitterness of my heart, I cursed him.” The Monster is also angry with Frankenstein for making the Monster the only one of his kind: “I was dependent on none and related to none.” The Monster also feels hatred and envy for the whole human race. He feels humans have treated him unfairly because of his appearance. He is especially hurt by the horrified reaction of the DeLacey family, his “protectors,” when he reveals himself to M. DeLacey. The Monster only seeks revenge against Frankenstein, but sometimes he seems to see Frankenstein as the representative of all mankind. He addresses him as “Man!” when he announces that he will kill Frankenstein’s family, suggesting Frankenstein is a stand-in for all humanity.



5. Why does Frankenstein Frankenstein create the Monster?

Frankenstein  believes that by creating the Monster, he can discover the secrets death,” create a “new species,” and learn how to “renew life.” He is motivated to attempt these things by ambition. He wants to achieve something great, even if it comes at great cost. He gives several different accounts of where his ambition comes from, reflecting his ambivalent attitude toward it. Sometimes he sees it as a character flaw, comparing his ambition to Satan’s, “the archangel who aspired to omnipotence.” Often, however, he suggests that he had a moral duty to follow his ambition: “I deemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those talents that might be useful to my fellowcreatures.” Some readers have suggested that Frankenstein is desperate to “renew life” because he is still grieving for his mother. She dies shortly before he begins to study science. After the Monster’s creation Frankenstein dreams about Elizabeth turning into his mother’s corpse, which could be seen as Frankenstein’s subconscious recognizing that he has failed to create life in a way which could bring his mother back.

6. In Frankenstein, what can readers conclude about Victor’s hesitation just before he creates the Monster?

After he solves the mystery of creating life, Victor Frankenstein calls it an “astonishing” power and says he “hesitated a long time concerning the manner in which I should employ it.” Readers might conclude that he hesitates on some level because he grasps that the power this knowledge brings poses dangers. In this view, waiting reveals that Victor has a sense of what exceeding the boundaries of human knowledge will bring. Based on his account to Walton, however, Victor’s hesitation seems to be based solely on practical concerns and the difficulty of “prepar[ing] a frame” for “animation.” He thinks through the problem of getting from the principle of animating dead flesh to life toward actually achieving that goal. He considers first whether he should attempt it with simpler organisms than humans but is confident and, after deciding that creating a living human is his dream, steels himself for a long process of discovery and many reverses. In his hesitation, then, Victor shows himself to be a methodical scientist and not someone with a growing morality.

7. Why does Frankenstein destroy the Monster’s female companion?

Frankenstein decides that he has a moral duty to destroy the female companion he is making for the Monster. He realizes that even if the Monster is not innately evil, he can’t be sure the female companion won’t turn out to be evil. Frankenstein is also concerned that the female companion might reject the Monster, making the Monster even more miserable and angry. Finally, Frankenstein worries that the Monster and his female companion might have children, and eventually give rise to a new species which might destroy mankind. He concludes that it would be selfish for him to create a companion for the Monster in order to save his own life. This decision shows that Frankenstein is motivated by the desire to do the right thing, but it also shows that he is still driven and ambitious. He is determined to choose the more difficult path, even if that path costs him his life (and the lives of the people he loves). When he makes his decision he is thinking about his future reputation: “I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as their pest.”

8. Why is the Monster so attracted to the De Lacey family in Frankenstein?

The De Laceys appear to have that which the Monster lacks and most desires: love, companionship, and tenderness. Agatha and Felix treat their blind father with affection and respect, and their father treats them the same way. Felix is deeply in love with Safie, a beautiful young Turkish woman, and she blends seamlessly she does not speak French at the beginning of her stay in the cottage. Her study of French enables the Monster to learn it in secret. The De Lacey family is poor and disgraced, but that does not matter to the Monster , for he is used to scant food, bitter cold, and rejection, and at any rate, he feels the connection to them before he realizes these facts about them. The family’s happiness appears golden to him, and he wishes only to be a part of it. Frankenstein of 1831 edition.


9. Write a note on the Introduction to Five writers gathered in Switzerland during the summer of 1816?

Mary Shelley, her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron, Claire Clairmont, and John William Polidori , Byron’s friend and physician. Mary’s publishers have asked her to tell about how her novel came to be written. She was only 19 years old when she began the novel. By age 21, she was acknowledged as the author. Being the daughter of two famous parents, she was not destined to be a writer, it was an avocation that she worked at. She recalls as a child writing stories to pass the time and to amuse friends. Her only audience was the select few she allowed to read her writing. But, through it all, she continued to write stories of imagination and of the fantastic. These stories were not meant to be of flight and fancy.

She remarks that she than enthusiastic about writing. Instead, she worked at home, traveled, studied, and read. It was a trip to Switzerland, however, that changed everything. Mary, Percy, and her stepsister Claire Clairmont rented a small cottage on the shores of Lake Leman (now called Lake Geneva), near Cologny, Switzerland during the summer of 1816. Byron was working on his major poetic work “Childe Harold;” Percy Shelley was working on his poem “Mont Blanc;” John William Polidori began his The Vampyre; a Tale (1819); and Mary began work on her future novel, Frankenstein. Only Mary and Polidori, the least known produced a full version of their ghost tales. to the writers, Mary tells a little about each tale that was concocted and what happened end result. All the others abandoned their stories when the weather cleared, except Mary. Conversations between Lord Byron and Percy Shelley fueled her curiosity and desire to create a good story:”One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror done to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” And so she begins her novel. 

10. Why Walton turns his ship around around?


Walton is motivated by the same ambition that motivates Frankenstein to create the Monster: “My life might have been passed in ease and luxury; but I preferred glory to every enticement that wealth placed in my path.” Walton doesn’t seem to learn from Frankenstein’s story that ambition is dangerous, even though Frankenstein warns him repeatedly. Nevertheless, Walton decides that he must abandon his goal, because he cannot endanger his crew against their wishes: “I cannot lead them unwillingly to danger.” The most important difference between Frankenstein and Walton is that Frankenstein prioritizes his ambition above his responsibility to other people, while Walton does not. Walton’s concern about others also ensures his own survival. Walton’s final decision therefore confirms the essential importance of companionship and loving relationships in the novel.


Frankenstein has three separate plot lines that circulate through the novel. The first is the Robert Walton plot line that introduces and closes the novel. Walton exhibits all of the emotions that we would expect from a person hearing such a fantastic tale. This plotline is like a picture frame, in which the accompanying storyline is the virtual frame that surrounds the novel’s main story. The second plot line, and most important, is the Victor Frankenstein plot line. This plot line takes up much of the novel’s volume. Perhaps the most overlooked plot line, in terms of importance, is the monster’s story. Mary Shelley gives the monster a voice, and the reader can sympathize with his pain and suffering at the hands of mankind. The portion of the tale is dedicated to the story of the De Lacey family is part of the monster’s story.

11. How many plotlines does the novel Frankenstein has? Which of the two central characters in Frankenstein is more monstrous, Victor or the Monster?

Both Victor and the Monster perform monstrous acts in Frankenstein. In determining which character is more monstrous, it is necessary to judge between the number of evil actions and the enormity of them. Victor commits three evil actions. First is taking the role of God and giving life to the Monster. His second evil is his rejection of the Monster. By disavowing responsibility for his creation, he demonstrates how pitifully short of God’s power a human can be. His third is to withhold the truth about what he has done, which results in several deaths. The Monster is responsible directly for the deaths of William Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, and Elizabeth and indirectly for the deaths of Justine and Alphonse Frankenstein. He could also be considered indirectly responsible for the death of Victor. Of course, Victor can be seen as indirectly responsible for all of those deaths, especially after William’s murder, when he should have realized that the Monster would not stop. Victor’s initial act seems the most horrific, as it reflects an arrogance and willfulness that links him to Satan, who also tried to usurp divine power. The Monster can be seen as having been driven to his crimes by rejection. While that does not excuse him completely, the explanation does mitigate the evil somewhat. Victor’s first crime and subsequent hiding of the truth make him more culpable of more fundamental evil because he should have known better and thus make him more monstrous.

13. How far the theme of alienation relate with the creation of such a monster like Frankenstein? 

Frankenstein suggests that social alienation is both the primary cause of evil and the punishment for it. The Monster explicitly says that his alienation from mankind has caused him to become a murderer: “My protectors had departed, and had broken the only link that held me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom.” His murders, however, only increase his alienation. For Frankenstein, too, alienation causes him to make bad decisions and is also the punishment for those bad decisions. When Frankenstein creates the Monster he is working alone, in a “solitary chamber, or rather cell.” Being “solitary” has caused his ambition to grow dangerously, but this isolation is already its own punishment: his laboratory feels like a “cell.” Once he has created the Monster, Frankenstein becomes even more alienated from the people around him because he can’t tell anyone about his creation. Both Frankenstein and the Monster compare themselves to the character of Satan in Paradise Lost. alienation from God is both Satan’s crime and his punishment.

The novel presents the idea that alienation from other people alienation from oneself . Frankenstein’s father points out the link between self-hatred and alienation: “I know that while you are pleased with yourself, you will think of us with affection, and we shall hear regularly from you. “As long as a person feels they have selfworth, they’ll maintain contact with others. The Monster feels that he is alienated from human society because he looks monstrous. He first recognizes that he is ugly not through someone else’s judgement but through his own: “When I viewed myself in a transparent pool[…]I was filled with the bitterest sensations.” At the end of the novel, with Frankenstein dead, the Monster is alone in the world. His alienation is complete, and so is his self-hatred: “You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself.” The ultimate consequence of alienation is self-destruction. Frankenstein drives himself to death chasing the Monster, while the Monster declares his intention to kill himself. 

14. Who is the real Victor protagonist of the novel and why? 

Frankenstein is the protagonist of Frankenstein. His goal is to thing great and morally good, which will secure him a lasting reputation. In pursuit of this goal, he creates the Monster, but his pursuit of his goal also causes his conflict with the Monster. Because of his outsized ambition to achieve greatness, Frankenstein cannot tolerate the flaws of the being he has created. When the Monster demands that Frankenstein make him a female companion, Frankenstein’s goal of achieving greatness brings him into conflict with the Monster. He can’t bear the thought that his actions might ruin his future reputation: “I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as their pest.” Frankenstein does not learn from his experiences. He dies trying to destroy the Monster because he is still pursuing greatness. Just as he initially sees the creation of the Monster as the key to lasting fame, Frankenstein later believes the destruction of the Monster will protect his future reputation: “You may give up your purpose, but mine is assigned to me by Heaven, and I dare not.” He dies having achieved his first ambition, to create life, but believing he has failed to achieve his second to destroy the life he created.

Throughout ambitionAnother possible protagonist of Frankenstein is the Monster novel, the Monster pursues connection and human contact. His quest for connection drives the plot, as other characters react to his attempts to forge relationships. Once the Monster realizes he will never have a friend or mate, he is driven by the desire for revenge against his creator, Frankenstein. In pursuing revenge, the Monster continues to drive the plot, killing everyone Frankenstein loves and causing Frankenstein to chase him across the globe. Unlike Frankenstein, the Monster changes over the course of the novel. He comes to see the error of his ways and express remorse for his actions. Also unlike Frankenstein, who dies still pursuing his goal of destroying the Monster, the Monster dies because he can’t live with who he is and what he has done.

16. How does the creature’s personality change throughout the novel Frankenstein? Why doesn’t Victor Frankenstein name his creation?

At the beginning of Frankenstein, the creature is an innocent being that simply craves affection and wants to learn the ways of the world, but by the end of the novel, he has transformed into a vengeful monster who causes death and destruction to everyone related to his creator. When the creature is reanimated, his creator abandons him. He is like a scared child without words or understanding left to fend for himself. While this “birth” is tragic, the creature has a calm and gentle disposition. He craves connection and goes in search of it. However, each attempt is met by hatred and even physical abuse. The only person who shows him any love or compassion is De Lacey because he is a blind man that cannot see the creature’s hideous appearance. However, this loving connection is quickly broken off by De Lacey’s family reinforcing emotional violence once again.


Over time, these negative experiences change the creature. They make him feel that he is unlovable and unworthy of care. He goes in search of his creator hoping to right this wrong, but he is met with opposition. Now, the loving creature is gone, and he is transformed into the monster everyone sees him to be. He will stop at nothing to ruin Victor’s life because he feels Victor has ruined his. The unloving world changes his personality into a true monster.

In denying the Monster a name, Victor is denying the Monster an identity and membership in a family. Names convey individuality and importance. Surnames, a family’s last name, provide a link to that family, showing the person is a descendant of a long line of people. Without the Frankenstein surname, the Monster link to his creator, First names can be chosen to convey individuality, to suggest character traits, or to honor an older member of the family. For example, the name Frank conveys an open and honest personality; the name Honor suggests integrity and trustworthiness, Without a first name, the Monster has no individual identity. Of course, the lack of a name connects him to Victor in a way. Many people misconstrue the novel’s title as referring to the Monster. This confusion of creation for creator shows how the two are acknowledged linked, of the novel.


19. In Frankenstein, what is the significance of Victor’s dream that his kiss turns Elizabeth into a corpse?

Victor’s dream foreshadows Elizabeth’s death and his role in it. In the dream, Victor’s kiss turns Elizabeth into a corpse because by marrying her, Victor marks Elizabeth as the vehicle for the Monster’s revenge on Victor. The Monster chooses Elizabeth as his victim to perfectly repay Victor for his destruction of the female monster, the Monster’s potential mate. The punishment is, in effect, an eye for an eye. Of course, Victor is Elizabeth’s killer in a broader sense as well. He is the one who created the Monster, so he is responsible for the latter’s hideous appearance, which causes other humans to reject the Monster and perpetuate injustice too. In his rejection of the Monster-his unnatural rejection of the responsibilities of creator and father-he also turns the Monster on a dark path toward loneliness and vengeance. In that dream, he also see Elizabeth transform into his own mother, who is dead. That detail foreshadows Elizabeth’s actual death.

20. What are the sympathetic traits of the Monster in Frankenstein?

The Monster in Frankenstein, though he commits murder and various other crimes, is nevertheless a highly sympathetic character due to his abandonment, his surprising compassion, the injustice he suffers, and his great eloquence. The Monster begins life, like all creatures, brought into the world without asking to enter it. Whereas most humans and many animals are nurtured by their parents when they are born, the Monster is immediately rejected and left alone. While he is large and powerful, he knows nothing of the world and its ways; he is given no tools or information to help ensure his survival. In his long narration of his history to Victor, the Monster also shows considerable compassion. His impulse on recognizing that the De Laceys suffer is to help them; he cuts firewood and stops taking their food. His immediate reaction on seeing the young woman drowning is to save her. The injustice of the harsh reaction to his own kindness, both by the De Laceys and the girl’s companion, certainly provokes the reader’s sympathy-his actions of reaching out for human companionship and helping someone in distress do not merit these responses. Finally, the Monster’s eloquent description of the torments he suffers from his isolation, rejection, and even guilt provoke sympathy. He is a complex soul who can express himself with great emotional power, and readers wish, like him, that he had received better treatment.


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