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Chapter 16

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 16 of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

Frankenstein | Chapter 16 (Volume 2, Chapter 9) | Summary

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Summary

The Monster has finished his story, and Victor becomes narrator again, continuing the events of the past. The Monster indicated to him his willingness to repent, saying he "would make peace with" humans if he could have some positive emotion from one of them. But he also repeated his demand for a mate, explaining, "I am malicious because I am miserable," and threatening, "If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear." The Monster vowed to destroy Victor if his demand were not met. If Victor complies, however, the Monster promised to leave with his mate, never to be seen again. The Monster argued with eloquence, and Victor finally agreed to his demand. Immediately, Victor and the Monster part ways; overnight, Victor slowly and unhappily returned to Chamounix. His family was shocked by his "haggard and strange" appearance, but after they returned to Geneva, Victor offered no explanation. The chapter concludes with him describing his "despair" and eventual "calm." Thinking of suicide at first, he is calmed by nature.

Analysis

The monster yearns for a mate. The reasonableness of his request and the eloquence of his plea make a strong argument that everyone needs human companionship. "Shall each beast have his mate," he pleads with Victor, "and I be alone?" Creating a mate for the Monster is the least that Victor can do for him, yet Victor is torn by indecision. His senses are conflicted: he says when listening to the Monster, "I compassionated him ... but when I looked upon him ... my heart sickened." When Victor finally agrees, he is plunged back into depression, which shows that he is still conflicted about his choice. If Victor's story recalls the Faust legend, this episode reintroduces it. Victor has called the Monster "the Devil." In agreeing to make him a mate, he is making a pact with the devil, as Faust had done.

Nature, of course, revives Victor, reinforcing the theme of connection to nature. The romantic can always find renewed energy and lifted spirits by communing with nature.

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