Literature Study GuidesFrankensteinVolume 2 Chapter 3 Summary

Frankenstein | Study Guide

Mary Shelley

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Volume 2: Chapter 3

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Volume 2: Chapter 3 of Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein (1818).

Frankenstein | Volume 2, Chapter 3 | Summary



The narrative voice shifts, as now the Monster is telling the story—which is, really, Walton's recounting of Victor's retelling of the Monster's story. (The Monster's story continues through Chapter 15.) He returns Victor to the day of his creation, saying he first awoke to find himself "desolate" and became aware of light and darkness, hunger and thirst. He was in a forest. The next day, he was "cold" and guided by a "gentle light," the moon, he "found a huge cloak." Over time, he recognized different sensations and developed a longing for language. He was overjoyed to find a fire to warm him; soon, he realized how to maintain the fire and use it to cook food. He spent much of his time foraging for food to relieve his constant hunger. On one search for food, the Monster found an old man living in a small hut, chased the man off, and stole his breakfast. He set off again and arrived that evening at a village, where the people recoiled at his appearance and chased him away. The Monster next arrived at a small hovel, a squalid shed attached to the back of a cottage. Happy to have shelter, the Monster stole bread and a cup and then realized that he could see into the cottage and so spy on its inhabitants. These are the De Lacey family—a father who is blind, as the Monster realizes in Chapter 11, and his children, Felix and Agatha—who treat each other with great love and kindness. The Monster saw the old man play music and the young man read.


The kindly way the De Lacey family interacts contrasts to the hatred the Monster faces. The De Laceys' love for each other increases the Monster's misery, as he sees what he is missing. They enact the positive aspects of humankind, serving as a kind of ideal and model the Monster can aspire to. That the names Felix and Agatha mean "luck" and "good," respectively, adds more luster to their existence. Seeing the old man embrace his daughter, Agatha, the Monster says, "I felt sensations of a peculiar and over-powering nature: they were a mixture of pain and pleasure, such as I had never before experienced ... and I withdrew from the window, unable to bear these emotions." No one treats the Monster well; no one cares whether he lives or dies. Indeed, even Victor, his father and creator, actively wants the Monster to die. Thus, the theme of human companionship is clearly evident here.

In his story, the Monster reveals a powerful and sensitive personality completely at odds with his monstrous appearance and the terms—"wretch," "fiend," "demon," and "devil"—that Victor constantly uses to refer to him. Readers may feel great pity for the Monster, a sensitive soul cast out of society. That Victor retells the Monster's account honestly and with no attempts to excuse himself does cast the creator in a somewhat sympathetic light. He grants the Monster a certain dignity of equal treatment in this regard.

The Monster's story also provides insight into one way of envisioning the first human. The Monster becomes aware of himself with no socialization or training; he is like John Locke's tabula rasa, or blank slate. He must learn on his own, as Adam had to; neither had a parent available to provide instruction or guidance. There are some differences, though. Adam, living in Eden, clothed himself and Eve after they ate of the forbidden fruit and realized their nakedness. The Monster seeks clothing because he is cold. He, unlike Adam, is not a sinner at this point. He is like a child, innocent and free of sin or guilt.

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