Frankenstein | Study Guide

Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein | Chapter 19 (Volume 3, Chapter 3) | Summary

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Summary

Victor recounts that as he worked on making the female monster, he thought back three years to when he had built the male monster. He worried about the possible outcomes of making this new creation, fearing the two creatures would mate and create a "race of devils" that would make human life "full of terror." Looking up from his work, Victor saw a figure at the hut's window; the Monster had followed Victor and Henry through their travels. In a fit of terror and fury, Victor ripped the female figure apart. The upset Monster left, and Victor departed from his lab for his other room, where he remained looking out the window.

Hours later, the Monster entered Victor's room and berated Victor for breaking his promise. The Monster threatened Victor, promising vengeance even if it results in his own death. He delivered an even more terrifying threat: "I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night." The Monster then left. Victor, anticipating that the Monster's words meant his own death, felt sad about Elizabeth mourning him.

Following an unhappy night, Victor received a letter from Henry, asking him to meet him at Perth so they could travel to India together. Victor cleaned up his lab and left two days later, taking a boat off the island. After dumping the rest of the female's body parts into the water, he fell asleep in the boat. The wind pushed the boat out into choppy water, and he woke up lost. After a fitful night, he managed to reach the Irish shore, joyful at being alive. Landing, he was puzzled that the local people treated him with great hostility. Victor was then arrested and taken to seen Mr. Kirwin, a magistrate, to explain another man's murder. He breaks off the story here, explaining that the "frightful events" take "fortitude to recall."

Analysis

This chapter furthers the themes of scientific idealism and curiosity, as Victor acts against curiosity and discovery, deciding to destroy the female monster rather than risk the potential for even greater disaster. He fears that perhaps the female won't go along with the Monster's plan to leave or that the two creatures might hate each other and create havoc. Their mating might have even more dire repercussions. Related to this interpretation is the view that Victor, in taking the role of creator, usurps the female role of motherhood. In a male-dominated world, in which men control the creation of new life, women become unnecessary. Victor's fear that the female monster would mate with the male monster and produce offspring is a fear that women will again wrench the role of motherhood back to them. If she never comes alive, that threat is removed, and Victor's power as creator and mother remains intact.

The Adam and Satan symbol gets a twist in this chapter. The Monster tells Victor, "You are my creator, but I am your master;—obey!" Here the Monster takes the role of Satan. As Satan, before his fall, challenged the divinely mandated order and revolted against God, seeking control of heaven, the Monster challenges the supremacy of the creator.

Victor's destruction of the female monster can also been seen as one culmination of the recurring theme of the passive woman. In this view, women are meant to be protected, managed, and controlled by males. If they show the slightest potential for power, they must be destroyed.

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