he was working fanatically at it. This time he is sadder and more fearful.
Chapters XIX and XX (pp 135-147)
Why would the Romantic Mary Shelley call the English Civil War “the most animating epoch of English history”?
As a “liberal,” Shelley would have been excited by the thought of common subjects and their elected Parliament rising up against a tyrannical king, deposing him, and abolishing the monarchy.
What style of literature describes the place where Victor begins to work in Scotland? Why?
Gothic. It is desolate and forbidding landscape to mirror the horrible task he must complete.
Give four reasons why Victor changes his mind about making the second creature.
Use evidence from the book to refute each of Victor’s reasons (cite page numbers).
The female creature might be more evil than the first.
a. The romantics believed in the concept of Tabula Rasa – that a person was born a “blank” slate with no innate personality. Personality was formed by a person’s upbringing, education, and experiences. This is evident in the creature’s account of its own “growing up.”
She has made no promise to live an isolated life.
She might reject the first creature and then there would be two wild ones.
b and c. The creature “awoke” to no one – no companion, no teacher, mentor, or guide to help him form his opinions and values. The female would have the creature to help her form her thoughts and feelings.
Worse yet, they might propagate a new race.
d. They might, but there is no reason to believe that their offspring won’t be born with the same nature as the parents. Also, if Victor is truly afraid of this, he could take some responsibility as a creator. Finally, he could ensure the female in incapable of reproduction.
What opinion does Victor have of his creation? Do you agree with his assessment of it?
He believes his creature is a wicked demon. Opinions may vary about his evaluation. One possibility is that the creature has been made wicked by society. The creature was made an outcast because of his appearance and only sought after friendship.
Chapters XXI and XXII (pp 149-163)
Why does Victor think he survived all that he had been through? How is the fact that he lives ironic?
He thinks he is doomed to live. While all of his friends must die, which is usually considered the worst possible thing, he remains alive. IRONY – In his case, watching everything he loves being destroyed is worse than death.
What does the word “torpor” mean in the following context?: “But my general state of being was a torpor, in which a prison was as welcome a residence as the divinest scene in nature”?
apathy, listlessness, dullness
What is ironic about the desires of Victor and the creature?
Victor can have human companionship, but doesn’t want it. The creature longs for companionship, and is forever denied it.
How does Shelley build suspense in these chapters?
Shelley delays revealing who the murder victim is while offering clues that the murderer is the creature and the victim might be Clerval.
Victor seems to condemn himself in his reaction to seeing Clerval’s body and in his feverish rantings.
He continues to misinterpret the creature’s threat to be with him on his wedding night, and actually advances the date of the wedding.
What evidence is there to suggest what the creature really means by his threat to be with Frankenstein on his wedding night?
The creature desires companionship. That has been his sole issue since the day of his coming to life. Victor has denied him that companionship – even to the extent of destroying the female companion. Therefore, the creature will do all he can to deprive Victor of companionship – even to the extent of destroying Victor’s “female companion” (i.e. Elizabeth)
Chapters XXIII and XXIV (pp 165-186)
What does the word “acme” mean in the following context: Mine has been a tale of horrors; I have reached their acme, and what I must now relate can but be tedious to you”?
Victor, in is anger, says to the magistrate, “How ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom.” What is the irony in this?
It is Victor’s pride and wisdom that led him to create the monster.
What does the creature want Victor to do now? (Chapter XXIV) How does that show a difference in the creature’s character from when he wanted a companion?
He wants Victor to live. Life without all he once held dear is more painful to Victor than death would be, and the creature wants him to feel that pain. Before, the creature only wanted Victor to make him a companion. Now he wants Victor to suffer, which shows he truly has turned revengeful and possibly evil.
Consider Victor’s statement: “When I reflected on the work I had completed, no less a one than the creation of a sensitive and rational animal, I could not rank myself with the herd or common projectors…All my speculations and hopes are as nothing; and, like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained to eternal hell.” How does this establish Victor as a tragic hero?
Victor began his research into the mystery of life with good intentions, and envisioned himself something like a God. Now, however, he realizes that he is much more like the Satan of Paradise Lost – having challenged the omnipotence of God and finding himself cast into Hell.
On his deathbed, Victor admits that he had an obligation to make sure his creature had a happy life. What is ironic about the excuse he offers for not doing so?
He says that his paramount obligation was to see to the welfare of his fellow humans, which is a concern he should have considered before embarking on his endeavor.
How does the end of the novel justify the concentric levels of narration introduced at the beginning?
Victor, the first-person character narrator, cannot narrate his own death. Therefore, Shelley needs to invent a means of including this event in her narrative – hence Captain Walton and his letters to his sister.
How does the inclusion of Captain Walton affect the overall meaning of the book?
Walton, like Victor, is a man obsessed with a grand aspiration. His story parallels Frankenstein’s except that he is able to learn from Frankenstein. Walton’s decision to abort his mission and return home establishes the theme of the failed Romanic quest.
Explain how Victor is similar to a tragic hero.
He is of noble birth, and has noble aspirations.
He thinks and feels intensely.
He has passionate aspirations and exhibits hubris
The actions that result in his downfall and death are intended for good, but he does not clearly consider or understand their true consequences
He feels intense suffering during his downfall.
Despite his noble character, he has a blind spot that allows him to commit errors in both action and judgment