Frankenstein | Study Guide

Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein | Quotes


What may not be expected in a country of eternal light?

Robert Walton, Letter 1

Frankenstein begins with four letters written by Walton to his sister. He expresses his excitement at the prospect and possibilities of exploring the Arctic Circle, where the sun does not set for half the year. The light symbolizes the joy of gaining knowledge, the search for which drives both Walton and Victor (as well as the Monster). Each search has unexpected results: Walton, failing in his intended journey, learns the stories of Victor and the Monster; Victor succeeds in his experiment yet, in so doing, creates misery, terror, and death for many, including himself.


Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.

Victor Frankenstein, Volume 1, Chapter 3

Victor warns Walton to not exceed the boundaries of human knowledge, to rein in his ambition, and to resist the drive for fame. He speaks based on his "example" of making the Monster, when he assumed the powers of God, those "greater than his nature," resulting in tragedy for all involved. There is dramatic irony in this warning about the dangers of pursuing knowledge being preceded by the directive "Learn from me." Some lessons are worth learning.


How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavored to form?

Victor Frankenstein, Volume 1, Chapter 4

At the moment of giving life, Victor is repulsed by his creation, so much so that he can scarcely bear to look at him. After nearly two years of hard work and years of studying, Victor is appalled rather than delighted at what he has wrought, seeing something that was intended to be "beautiful" as repulsive. Victor's disgust moves him to reject the Monster; this sets the rest of the plot into motion, as the Monster seeks revenge for this and other rejections also based on his awful appearance.


My country! My beloved country! who but a native can tell the delight I took in again beholding thy streams, thy mountains, and, more than that, thy lovely lake!

Victor Frankenstein, Volume 1, Chapter 6

After William's murder, Victor seeks comfort in nature, where his soul becomes refreshed and his sorrows wash away. The belief in the power of nature was central to the romantic movement and to the theme of connection to nature that appears throughout the novel.


My abhorrence of this fiend cannot be conceived.

Victor Frankenstein, Volume 2, Chapter 1

Frankenstein can be read as a revenge novel, with the Monster seeking revenge on Victor for rejecting him and Victor seeking revenge on the Monster for murdering his family members, friend, and servant. Victor's hatred of the Monster becomes all-consuming, and he dies in his quest for vengeance. It is also notable that Victor, in hating the Monster, also hates himself.


The more I saw of them, the greater became my desire to claim their protection and kindness; my heart yearned to be known and loved by these amiable creatures.

The Monster, Volume 2, Chapter 7

The Monster reveals his deep desire for human companionship and acceptance as he recounts his feelings after observing the De Laceys. The passage reflects the eloquence he often employs to express his thoughts and feelings, which belies his characterization as a monster.


'Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed in agony. 'Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid from its very resemblance.'

The Monster, Volume 2, Chapter 7

The Monster recounts to Victor the self-loathing he felt after reading Victor's journal entries describing his creation. The speech not only reveals the Monster's wretched isolation and anguish but also Victor's error in creating the Monster and taking no responsibility for him. Unlike the humans created by God, whom the monster believes to be perfect, the creature formed by a human is a crude, malformed mockery.


My companion must be of the same species, and have the same defects. This being you must create.

The Monster, Volume 2, Chapter 8

Finishing his narrative, the Monster demands that Victor create a mate for him to relieve his burning isolation and loneliness. This connects to the theme of human companionship. Victor is more comfortable being alone than the Monster is. The request also reinforces similarities to Paradise Lost and the biblical book of Genesis; like Adam, the Monster asks his creator for a mate.


I am malicious because I am miserable. Am I not shunned and hated by all mankind?

The Monster, Volume 2, Chapter 9

Tortured by loneliness, the Monster is trying to convince Victor to make him a mate. The Monster is terrifying, but, like all living beings, he requires companionship. He explains that his behavior is caused by his unhappiness through loneliness. If he can be happy, accepted by a companion, he will act morally. But, if Victor does not agree to the Monster's demand, the Monster vows to cause fear and commit acts of "inextinguishable hatred."


It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night.

The Monster, Volume 3, Chapter 3

After Victor destroys the Monster's mate, the Monster delivers this threat. Victor—and perhaps the reader—assumes that this means the Monster will murder Victor on his wedding night. Victor marries Elizabeth even though he worries about the threat. Instead, the Monster intends to destroy Victor's happiness—and does, by killing his mate, Elizabeth, as Victor has killed the Monster's incomplete mate by destroying it. The importance of this quotation is underscored by Victor's frequent recounting of it.


'Are you mad, my friend?' said he, 'or whither does your senseless curiosity lead you? Would you also create for yourself and the world a demoniacal enemy? Or to what do your questions tend? Peace, peace! learn my miseries, and do not seek to increase your own.'

Victor Frankenstein, Walton, in Continuation

Victor delivers the same warning to Walton that he had before beginning to tell his story: do not seek knowledge that goes beyond the limits of human power. The quotation reflects the themes of curiosity (use care in pursuing knowledge) and disillusionment (Victor has clearly become disillusioned by his experiences).


Oh, Frankenstein! generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me?

The Monster, Walton, in Continuation

The Monster, mourning over Victor's corpse, asks forgiveness for destroying all that Victor had loved. The Monster's grief and desire for absolution show his remorse and humanity. They also contrast with Victor's feelings just before his death, in which he is devoted to the goal of revenge. The Monster has become more human, or at least more humane, than his human creator. The Monster's characterization of Victor as "generous" might seem generous on the Monster's part, given Victor's behavior toward the Monster, though "self-devoted" seems correct.

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