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Chapter 15

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 15 of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

Frankenstein | Chapter 15 (Volume 2, Chapter 8) | Summary

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Summary

That night, in a fury, the Monster declared "everlasting war" against all humans, especially Victor Frankenstein. Later, calmed by "pleasant sunshine," the Monster decided that he had acted too quickly and, after napping, returned to the cottage, where the following morning he saw Felix negotiating with his landlord to leave. The unhappy Monster says, "I never saw any of the family of De Lacey more." The Monster's feelings of hatred and desire for revenge flared again. That night, he burned the De Laceys' cottage to the ground and set off, hoping to reach Geneva. He traveled a long time, developing a desire for "justice" from and then "revenge" on his "heartless creator," finding pleasure only in nature. Along the way, the Monster saved a "young girl" from drowning, but her male companion shot the Monster in the shoulder. The Monster spent weeks recovering, his physical pain increased by his mental anguish. He vowed revenge against humanity for the "outrages and anguish" they had caused him.

Two months later, near Geneva, the Monster was awakened from a nap by a beautiful child. Believing the child too young and innocent to fear him, the Monster grabbed the boy. Instead of accepting him, the boy screamed, "Monster! Ugly wretch!" certain the Monster wished to eat him or tear him to pieces. The boy proclaimed that his father, Mr. Frankenstein, will "punish" the Monster. Hearing the child's identity, the Monster said, "You shall be my first victim," and strangled him. The Monster took the portrait the child was wearing. When he saw a young woman (Justine), he decided to punish her in place of other people who have rejected him and secretly placed the necklace on her. He was fully aware that the innocent young woman would be blamed for the murder of the boy. The Monster relates that he then wandered for some time, hoping to see and confront Victor. The chapter closes with his demand that Victor end his solitude by making him a mate.

Analysis

This chapter brings the stories of the Monster and Victor together, as the Monster explains how he killed William and what he did to frame Justine for the crime. This murder is a counterpoint to the kind deed the Monster performed earlier in the chapter—saving another girl from drowning—and the unjust punishment he received. His anger at that injustice, reminding him of his rejection by the De Laceys and his treatment by the boyfriend of the drowning girl, his rage at William Frankenstein's horror upon seeing him, and his desire for revenge on Victor, awakened by hearing the name "Frankenstein," all spur him to violence.

The Monster takes the written word as all-powerful, believing what he reads is literally true. He extends this to assume that he will be able to use language, threats, and violence to persuade Victor to make him a mate. The Monster's naïve belief in the power of language foreshadows the failure of his plea. That faith also provides an ironic commentary on Mary Shelley's act of penning the novel. If language is too weak to persuade, why does she write? Or is language capable of changing minds—Victor, after all, complies initially with the Monster's demand—but not necessarily changing society?

The power of language appears in the William story as well. The Monster's words cannot persuade the boy that he is not a threat. In determining to kill him by strangling, the Monster says he acts to "silence him." If his words will not be heard, he will ensure that William's words are not heard, either.

The pleasure that the Monster finds in nature in the chapter reinforces the theme of connection to nature inspired by the romantic movement. It also once again underscores his connection to Victor in this regard. His desire to "reanimate" the drowning girl connects him to Victor as well; he hopes to animate life.

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