- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Literary context
- The Bible: Creation: see Religious / philosophical context
- The Prometheus myth
- The doppelganger
- The monster's reading: Plutarch, Milton and Goethe
- The Romantics: Coleridge, Lamb, Southey, de Quincey
- Title page to the first edition
- Volume 1
- Volume 2
- Volume 3
Synopsis of Volume 2 Chapter 7
The creature finds and reads three books: Milton's Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther; he also reads Frankenstein's journal of the months leading up to his creation.
This reading increases his sense of loneliness and self-disgust, and he introduces himself to old De Lacey, whose blindness protects him from being immediately repelled by the creature's appearance. They begin to talk, but when Agatha, Felix and Safie return, the creature is forced to flee.
Commentary on Volume 2 Chapter 7
some books: these books are central to the creature's self-education. Plutarch's Lives, a classical work, Paradise Lost, from the period of the English Civil War and The Sorrows of Young Werther, a recent work by J. W. von Goethe from the German Romantic movement. (See Literary context: The monster's reading)
‘The path of my departure was free': a line from Percy Shelley's poem ‘Mutability'. Victor quotes the verse containing this line in Volume 3, Chapter 2.
For envy, yet with jealous leer malign
Ey'd them askance, and to himself thus ‘plain'd‘
Sight hateful, Sight tormenting! Thus these two
Imparadis't in one another's arms
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill
Of bliss on bliss.'
Book 4, lines 502-8
some papers: the creature's final piece of reading in this chapter is the most important, for at last he learns about his own origins. As a result, he feels even more angry, self-hating and isolated.
It was all a dream … I was alone: in Paradise Lost Book 8, lines 460-89, Adam dreams that God creates Eve as a companion for him.
Adam's supplication to his Creator: in Paradise Lost Book 8, lines 379-97, Adam asks God for a companion.
In spite of his despair at what he has learned about his origins, the creature decides to make himself known to the de Laceys. Why does he do this?
More on the creature's motives:
It is noteworthy that it is a long time before the creature gives up on humanity. What he has read, together with his close observations of the de Laceys, has convinced him of the existence of human virtue, and he aspires to what is best in people.
These feelings are part of what Mary Shelley is saying about human development and social education. Left to himself, the creature is innocent, benevolent and trusting, and he retains these and other positive qualities, in spite of having read about and witnessed much less worthy behaviour.
He hopes that, because de Lacey is blind he will have an unbiased reception, and this proves to be the case. It is only when the sighted members of the family arrive that he is attacked and forced to flee.
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