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Chapter 14

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 14 of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

Frankenstein | Chapter 14 (Volume 2, Chapter 7) | Summary

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Summary

Continuing his narration, the Monster relates that one evening he found a suitcase of books (Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives, Sorrows of Werter) that he read and thought about deeply. He was especially moved by Milton's Paradise Lost, which he read as accurate history rather than a work of imagination. He contrasted himself with Adam; when he thought about the love the De Laceys showed for each other, he identified with Satan and felt envious. He also read some of Victor's journal tracing the Monster's formation; he had it because it was "in the pocket of the dress which [he] had taken from [Victor's] laboratory." He shows Victor the pages and tells his creator they made him ill, feeling worse off than Satan because he was "solitary and detested." He wanted to show himself to the De Laceys but waited "for some months."

Meanwhile, the De Laceys, whom the Monster had come to see as his own family, were happier since Safie's arrival. The Monster again compares himself to Adam, but he has "no Eve" and his creator has "abandoned" him. Autumn's bleakness meant he was no longer soothed by nature.

That winter, gathering his courage, the Monster waited until M. De Lacey was alone. Since the old man is blind, he could not see the Monster. The Monster told the old man of his isolation and yearning to be accepted by his "friends," not specifying that he meant the De Laceys. The old man offered to help. Just as the Monster was about to admit these friends are the De Laceys, he heard Safie, Felix, and Agatha returning. He told M. De Lacey, "You and your family are the friends of whom I seek. Do not desert me in the hour of trial!," and the three arrived back at the cottage. Agatha fainted, Safie fled, and Felix beat the Monster with a stick. The Monster ran from the cottage.

Analysis

The Monster reads Milton's Paradise Lost, one volume of Plutarch's Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans, and Goethe's Sorrows of Werter, all major texts, the last a key document of the romantic movement. He says, "I learned from Werter's imaginations despondency and gloom: but Plutarch taught me high thoughts." However, all the skill the Monster acquires in language and communication is frustrating, as he has no one to communicate with. The Monster pours out all that he has learned, drawing on all his language and communication skills, when he meets Victor and tells his story.

As he becomes educated, the Monster thinks about his condition and yearns for a mate. Drawing on his reading of Paradise Lost, he says, "Like Adam, I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence." However, the Monster realizes that his similarity to Adam ends there, for God created Adam as "happy and prosperous," while Victor Frankenstein made the Monster "wretched, helpless, and alone." The Monster's despair makes him more human and again incites readers' sympathy, giving the novel its deep humanity.

The Monster's conversation with M. De Lacey makes use of the common literary device of the blind person who sees more clearly than the sighted. When the Monster asks his assistance in helping him befriend the family (who are really the De Laceys), the old man says, "There is something in your words which persuades me that you are sincere." The blind man, who does not see how horrific the Monster looks, is the only person who can perceive his true nature.

When Felix and Agatha De Lacey reject him, the Monster learns that the De Laceys were not as kind and tolerant as he had supposed. Instead, they are as flawed as the rest of humankind. He has romanticized the family, making them into the ideal family he wishes he could join, showing his desperate desire for human companionship and relief from isolation and loneliness.

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