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Chapter 8

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 8 of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

Frankenstein | Chapter 8 (Volume 2, Chapter 1) | Summary

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Summary

As Victor explains to Walton, his mood sank even lower, as he was "seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures, such as no language can describe." His father advised him not to yield to " immoderate grief," but Victor's guilt prevented him from doing that. The Frankensteins traveled to Belrive, where Victor secretly sailed the lake at night and thought about killing himself. Victor believed the Monster determined to "commit some signal crime" of "enormity," and his hatred of "this fiend" became violent. Elizabeth, also grieving, attempted to comfort him, but Victor believed himself to be the true murderer. Hoping to cheer and relieve Victor, his father suggested they take a trip to the valley of Chamounix, a familiar place from Victor's childhood. Victor recognized the "wonderful and sublime" beauty of the Alps, including "the supreme and magnificent Mont Blanc," and enjoyed the physical exertion. But he could not shake his feelings of remorse and gloom. The chapter ends with him awake at night while his family sleeps, watching a storm with lightning playing above Mont Blanc.

Analysis

Victor says that "solitude was my only consolation—deep, dark, deathlike solitude." His condition parallels that of the Monster, as readers later learn, and Victor's anger makes him appear monstrous: "my eyes became inflamed." The two have one critical difference: Victor chooses solitude, but the Monster has it thrust upon him. Victor can rejoin society at any time he chooses, and the care others show for him is evidenced by his father's idea of traveling in nature to restore his spirits and by Elizabeth's attempts to talk him into a better mood. The Monster, in sharp contrast, has no one who loves him, no one who likes him, and no one who can ever bear to look at him.

Details in this chapter reflect both the theme of connection to nature and the gothic genre. Victor's descriptions of the scenes they see show the romantics' love of nature. He describes "immense mountains and precipices overhanging us" and "the magnificent and astonishing character" of the valley and the "sublime of the mighty Alps." Romantics drew a distinction between the beautiful, which reflected harmony and goodness, and the sublime, which could be terrible but reflected power and inspired awe. The sublime was nature untamed, what moderns call "wild nature." The visit to Mont Blanc reflects a trip that Mary and Percy had taken to the area in 1816, which inspired Percy to write a poem that year about the mountain. In the poem, he celebrates the mountain as a symbol of grandeur but also of freedom. Finally, the gothic mood is reinforced by the "ruined castles" they also see, as well as by the storm that Victor watches that night. Despite the restorative power of nature, he is so troubled he cannot shake the ominous future that overhangs him.

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