Chapter 7

Synopsis of Volume 3 Chapter 7

Frankenstein decides to leave Geneva forever. He visits the graveyard where the bodies of William, Elizabeth and his father lie and swears on their graves to avenge their deaths. He realises that he is being observed by the monster, who taunts him before running away. He then recounts his pursuit of the monster until his arrival in the Arctic and his encounter with Walton.

Commentary on Volume 3 Chapter 7

and now my wanderings began which are to cease but with life: the figure of the fatal wanderer, condemned to spend his life travelling, often for some unspecified sin, is common in Romantic literature.

More on being condemned to wander:

Mary Shelley will have been familiar with her husband's Alastor; or, The Spirit of Solitude, composed in the autumn and winter of 1815, when they were living together in a cottage in Windsor Park, and published in the volume Alastor (1816). Alastor is the spirit of solitude, who pursues the restless, alienated and ultimately unfulfilled Poet to his death.

Another example of the haunted figure trapped in a life of endless travel can be found in Childe Harold's Pilgrimage, by Byron, the first two cantos of which, published in 1812, made him famous; Cantos 3 and 4 followed in 1816 and 1818. In the poem, Harold, worn out from a life of pleasure, becomes a self-exiled, melancholy outcast from society, wandering through the world in search of some kind of purpose or satisfaction, which he never finds. Similar figures can be found in Byron's The Giaour (1812) and Manfred (1817). (See also Author section: Political radicalism).

the furies: the Eumenides, the vengeful spirits of Greek mythology, characterised as a group of pursuing women.

the Black Sea … Tartary and Russia: Victor travels east and then north for the first time in the story. Tartary is the old name for the part of Central Asia occupied by the Tartars or Tatars, a ferocious nomadic tribe. The name may be associated with Tartarus, an ancient Greek name for Hell, which is appropriate, since Frankenstein believes that he is enduring a kind of living Hell (see the following note).

I was cursed by some devil, and carried about with me my eternal Hell: this is not the first time that Victor's words echo those of Milton's Satan.

O blessed sleep! … even to rapture!: the restorative powers of sleep and the comfort of dreams are frequently mentioned in Romantic writing. Celebration of this respite from the troubles of waking life is often balanced by an awareness that dreams can also be escapist and delusive.

I pursued my path … ardent desire of my soul: as in his earlier comments about being cursed by a devil, Victor seems here to suggest that he is not fully in command of his own destiny, but is being controlled by some higher power.

The Greeks wept for joy … the boundary of their toils: The Greek historian Xenophon, who wrote in the fifth century BCE, tells the story of a retreating army of Greek mercenaries who cried, ‘Thalassa, thalassa' (‘The sea, the sea') when they reached the southern shore of the Black Sea at Trebizond.

manes: spirits (Latin)

Investigating Volume 3 Chapter 7

‘I was cursed by some devil, and carried about with me my eternal Hell.' In what sense might Frankenstein be said to be cursed? More on the curse on Victor?
Related material
Scan and go

Scan on your mobile for direct link.