The gothic - Essay Prowess

The gothic


Choose one option A or B
Option A
Analyze why gothic texts employ doppelg?ngers, and explore what makes doppelgangers still relevant to contemporary gothic texts. You must use all of the following texts:
1. Frankenstein (1818) by Mary Shelley
2. A good man is hard to find
3. Lamb to the slaughter (The movie)

Option B
Analyze one of the elements of Gothic fiction listed below, and explore how it is still relevant to contemporary gothic texts. You must use all of the following texts:
1. Frankenstein (1818) Mary Shelley
2. A good man is hard to find
3. Lamb to the slaughter (The movie)

Possible elements: Choose only one to use in the essay
The uncanny
The sublime
The supernatural

Essay structure- Five paragraph
1. Intro (Last sentence of the intro is the Thesis, and briefly introduce the three texts)
2. First argument (Topic sentence, two quote from the two text, context, analysis)
3. Second argument (Topic sentence, two quote from the text, context, analysis)
4. Third argument (Topic sentence, two quote from the text, context, analysis)
5. Conclusion

6.5 pages, MLA format.

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By Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Letter 1
To Mrs. Saville, England
St. Petersburgh, Dec. 11th, 17?
You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied
the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded
with such evil forebodings. I arrived here yesterday, and
my first task is to assure my dear sister of my welfare and
increasing confidence in the success of my undertaking.
I am already far north of London, and as I walk in the
streets of Petersburgh, I feel a cold northern breeze play
upon my cheeks, which braces my nerves and fills me
with delight. Do you understand this feeling? This breeze,
which has travelled from the regions towards which I am
advancing, gives me a foretaste of those icy climes. Inspirited
by this wind of promise, my daydreams become more
fervent and vivid. I try in vain to be persuaded that the
pole is the seat of frost and desolation; it ever presents itself
to my imagination as the region of beauty and delight.
There, Margaret, the sun is forever visible, its broad disk just
skirting the horizon and diffusing a perpetual splendour.
There?for with your leave, my sister, I will put some trust
in preceding navigators? there snow and frost are banished;
and, sailing over a calm sea, we may be wafted to
a land surpassing in wonders and in beauty every region
hitherto discovered on the habitable globe. Its productions
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and features may be without example, as the phenomena of
the heavenly bodies undoubtedly are in those undiscovered
solitudes. What may not be expected in a country of eternal
light? I may there discover the wondrous power which
attracts the needle and may regulate a thousand celestial
observations that require only this voyage to render their
seeming eccentricities consistent forever. I shall satiate my
ardent curiosity with the sight of a part of the world never
before visited, and may tread a land never before imprinted
by the foot of man. These are my enticements, and they are
sufficient to conquer all fear of danger or death and to induce
me to commence this labourious voyage with the joy
a child feels when he embarks in a little boat, with his holiday
mates, on an expedition of discovery up his native river.
But supposing all these conjectures to be false, you cannot
contest the inestimable benefit which I shall confer on all
mankind, to the last generation, by discovering a passage
near the pole to those countries, to reach which at present
so many months are requisite; or by ascertaining the secret
of the magnet, which, if at all possible, can only be effected
by an undertaking such as mine.
These reflections have dispelled the agitation with which
I began my letter, and I feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm
which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes
so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose?a
point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. This
expedition has been the favourite dream of my early years.
I have read with ardour the accounts of the various voyages
which have been made in the prospect of arriving at the
North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the
pole. You may remember that a history of all the voyages
made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our
good Uncle Thomas? library. My education was neglected,
yet I was passionately fond of reading. These volumes were
my study day and night, and my familiarity with them increased
that regret which I had felt, as a child, on learning
that my father?s dying injunction had forbidden my uncle to
allow me to embark in a seafaring life.
These visions faded when I perused, for the first time,
those poets whose effusions entranced my soul and lifted
it to heaven. I also became a poet and for one year lived in
a paradise of my own creation; I imagined that I also might
obtain a niche in the temple where the names of Homer and
Shakespeare are consecrated. You are well acquainted with
my failure and how heavily I bore the disappointment. But
just at that time I inherited the fortune of my cousin, and
my thoughts were turned into the channel of their earlier
Six years have passed since I resolved on my present
undertaking. I can, even now, remember the hour from
which I dedicated myself to this great enterprise. I commenced
by inuring my body to hardship. I accompanied
the whale-fishers on several expeditions to the North Sea; I
voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep;
I often worked harder than the common sailors during the
day and devoted my nights to the study of mathematics, the
theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science
from which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest
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practical advantage. Twice I actually hired myself as an under-mate
in a Greenland whaler, and acquitted myself to
admiration. I must own I felt a little proud when my captain
offered me the second dignity in the vessel and entreated
me to remain with the greatest earnestness, so valuable did
he consider my services.
And now, dear Margaret, do I not deserve to accomplish
some great purpose? My life might have been passed in
ease and luxury, but I preferred glory to every enticement
that wealth placed in my path. Oh, that some encouraging
voice would answer in the affirmative! My courage and my
resolution is firm; but my hopes fluctuate, and my spirits
are often depressed. I am about to proceed on a long and
difficult voyage, the emergencies of which will demand all
my fortitude: I am required not only to raise the spirits of
others, but sometimes to sustain my own, when theirs are
This is the most favourable period for travelling in Russia.
They fly quickly over the snow in their sledges; the motion is
pleasant, and, in my opinion, far more agreeable than that
of an English stagecoach. The cold is not excessive, if you
are wrapped in furs? a dress which I have already adopted,
for there is a great difference between walking the deck and
remaining seated motionless for hours, when no exercise
prevents the blood from actually freezing in your veins. I
have no ambition to lose my life on the post-road between
St. Petersburgh and Archangel.
I shall depart for the latter town in a fortnight or three
weeks; and my intention is to hire a ship there, which can
easily be done by paying the insurance for the owner, and
to engage as many sailors as I think necessary among those
who are accustomed to the whale-fishing. I do not intend
to sail until the month of June; and when shall I return?
Ah, dear sister, how can I answer this question? If I succeed,
many, many months, perhaps years, will pass before
you and I may meet. If I fail, you will see me again soon, or
Farewell, my dear, excellent Margaret. Heaven shower
down blessings on you, and save me, that I may again and
again testify my gratitude for all your love and kindness.
Your affectionate brother,
R. Walton
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Letter 2
To Mrs. Saville, England
Archangel, 28th March, 17?
How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am
by frost and snow! Yet a second step is taken towards my enterprise.
I have hired a vessel and am occupied in collecting
my sailors; those whom I have already engaged appear to be
men on whom I can depend and are certainly possessed of
dauntless courage.
But I have one want which I have never yet been able to
satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as
a most severe evil. I have no friend, Margaret: when I am
glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none
to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment,
no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall
commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor
medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company
of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes
would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear
sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one
near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as
well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to
approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair
the faults of your poor brother! I am too ardent in execution
and too impatient of difficulties. But it is a still greater evil
to me that I am self-educated: for the first fourteen years
of my life I ran wild on a common and read nothing but
our Uncle Thomas? books of voyages. At that age I became
acquainted with the celebrated poets of our own country;
but it was only when it had ceased to be in my power to
derive its most important benefits from such a conviction
that I perceived the necessity of becoming acquainted with
more languages than that of my native country. Now I am
twenty-eight and am in reality more illiterate than many
schoolboys of fifteen. It is true that I have thought more and
that my daydreams are more extended and magnificent, but
they want (as the painters call it) *keeping*; and I greatly
need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise
me as romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavour
to regulate my mind.
Well, these are useless complaints; I shall certainly find
no friend on the wide ocean, nor even here in Archangel,
among merchants and seamen. Yet some feelings, unallied
to the dross of human nature, beat even in these rugged
bosoms. My lieutenant, for instance, is a man of wonderful
courage and enterprise; he is madly desirous of glory,
or rather, to word my phrase more characteristically, of advancement
in his profession. He is an Englishman, and in
the midst of national and professional prejudices, unsoftened
by cultivation, retains some of the noblest endowments
of humanity. I first became acquainted with him on board a
whale vessel; finding that he was unemployed in this city, I
easily engaged him to assist in my enterprise.
The master is a person of an excellent disposition and is
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remarkable in the ship for his gentleness and the mildness of
his discipline. This circumstance, added to his well-known
integrity and dauntless courage, made me very desirous to
engage him. A youth passed in solitude, my best years spent
under your gentle and feminine fosterage, has so refined
the groundwork of my character that I cannot overcome an
intense distaste to the usual brutality exercised on board
ship: I have never believed it to be necessary, and when I
heard of a mariner equally noted for his kindliness of heart
and the respect and obedience paid to him by his crew, I felt
myself peculiarly fortunate in being able to secure his services.
I heard of him first in rather a romantic manner, from
a lady who owes to him the happiness of her life. This, briefly,
is his story. Some years ago he loved a young Russian
lady of moderate fortune, and having amassed a considerable
sum in prize-money, the father of the girl consented
to the match. He saw his mistress once before the destined
ceremony; but she was bathed in tears, and throwing herself
at his feet, entreated him to spare her, confessing at the
same time that she loved another, but that he was poor, and
that her father would never consent to the union. My generous
friend reassured the suppliant, and on being informed
of the name of her lover, instantly abandoned his pursuit.
He had already bought a farm with his money, on which
he had designed to pass the remainder of his life; but he bestowed
the whole on his rival, together with the remains of
his prize-money to purchase stock, and then himself solicited
the young woman?s father to consent to her marriage
with her lover. But the old man decidedly refused, thinking
10 Frankenstein
himself bound in honour to my friend, who, when he found
the father inexorable, quitted his country, nor returned until
he heard that his former mistress was married according
to her inclinations. ?What a noble fellow!? you will exclaim.
He is so; but then he is wholly uneducated: he is as silent
as a Turk, and a kind of ignorant carelessness attends him,
which, while it renders his conduct the more astonishing,
detracts from the interest and sympathy which otherwise
he would command.
Yet do not suppose, because I complain a little or because
I can conceive a consolation for my toils which I may never
know, that I am wavering in my resolutions. Those are
as fixed as fate, and my voyage is only now delayed until
the weather shall permit my embarkation. The winter has
been dreadfully severe, but the spring promises well, and it
is considered as a remarkably early season, so that perhaps
I may sail sooner than I expected. I shall do nothing rashly:
you know me sufficiently to confide in my prudence and
considerateness whenever the safety of others is committed
to my care.
I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near prospect
of my undertaking. It is impossible to communicate
to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable
and half fearful, with which I am preparing to
depart. I am going to unexplored regions, to ?the land of
mist and snow,? but I shall kill no albatross; therefore do
not be alarmed for my safety or if I should come back to
you as worn and woeful as the ?Ancient Mariner.? You will
smile at my allusion, but I will disclose a secret. I have of-
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ten attributed my attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm
for, the dangerous mysteries of ocean to that production of
the most imaginative of modern poets. There is something
at work in my soul which I do not understand. I am practically
industrious?painstaking, a workman to execute with
perseverance and labour?but besides this there is a love for
the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous, intertwined in
all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways
of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am
about to explore.
But to return to dearer considerations. Shall I meet you
again, after having traversed immense seas, and returned
by the most southern cape of Africa or America? I dare not
expect such success, yet I cannot bear to look on the reverse
of the picture. Continue for the present to write to me by
every opportunity: I may receive your letters on some occasions
when I need them most to support my spirits. I love
you very tenderly. Remember me with affection, should you
never hear from me again.
Your affectionate brother,
Robert Walton
12 Frankenstein
Letter 3
To Mrs. Saville, England
July 7th, 17?
My dear Sister,
I write a few lines in haste to say that I am safe? and well
advanced on my voyage. This letter will reach England by a
merchantman now on its homeward voyage from Archangel;
more fortunate than I, who may not see my native land,
perhaps, for many years. I am, however, in good spirits: my
men are bold and apparently firm of purpose, nor do the
floating sheets of ice that continually pass us, indicating the
dangers of the region towards which we are advancing, appear
to dismay them. We have already reached a very high
latitude; but it is the height of summer, and although not
so warm as in England, the southern gales, which blow us
speedily towards those shores which I so ardently desire to
attain, breathe a degree of renovating warmth which I had
not expected.
No incidents have hitherto befallen us that would make
a figure in a letter. One or two stiff gales and the springing
of a leak are accidents which experienced navigators scarcely
remember to record, and I shall be well content if nothing
worse happen to us during our voyage.
Adieu, my dear Margaret. Be assured that for my own
sake, as well as yours, I will not rashly encounter danger. I
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will be cool, persevering, and prudent.
But success *shall* crown my endeavours. Wherefore
not? Thus far I have gone, tracing a secure way over the
pathless seas, the very stars themselves being witnesses and
testimonies of my triumph. Why not still proceed over the
untamed yet obedient element? What can stop the determined
heart and resolved will of man?
My swelling heart involuntarily pours itself out thus. But
I must finish. Heaven bless my beloved sister!
14 Frankenstein
Letter 4
To Mrs. Saville, England
August 5th, 17?
So strange an accident has happened to us that I cannot
forbear recording it, although it is very probable that you
will see me before these papers can come into your possession.
Last Monday (July 31st) we were nearly surrounded by
ice, which closed in the ship on all sides, scarcely leaving her
the sea-room in which she floated. Our situation was somewhat
dangerous, especially as we were compassed round by
a very thick fog. We accordingly lay to, hoping that some
change would take place in the atmosphere and weather.
About two o?clock the mist cleared away, and we beheld,
stretched out in every direction, vast and irregular plains
of ice, which seemed to have no end. Some of my comrades
groaned, and my own mind began to grow watchful with
anxious thoughts, when a strange sight suddenly attracted
our attention and diverted our solicitude from our own situation.
We perceived a low carriage, fixed on a sledge and
drawn by dogs, pass on towards the north, at the distance
of half a mile; a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently
of gigantic stature, sat in the sledge and guided the
dogs. We watched the rapid progress of the traveller with
our telescopes until he was lost among the distant inequali-
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ties of the ice.
This appearance excited our unqualified wonder. We
were, as we believed, many hundred miles from any land;
but this apparition seemed to denote that it was not, in reality,
so distant as we had supposed. Shut in, however, by ice,
it was impossible to follow his track, which we had observed
with the greatest attention.
About two hours after this occurrence we heard the
ground sea, and before night the ice broke and freed our
ship. We, however, lay to until the morning, fearing to encounter
in the dark those large loose masses which float
about after the breaking up of the ice. I profited of this time
to rest for a few hours.
In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went
upon deck and found all the sailors busy on one side of the
vessel, apparently talking to someone in the sea. It was, in
fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before, which had drifted
towards us in the night on a large fragment of ice. Only one
dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it
whom the sailors were persuading to enter the vessel. He
was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant
of some undiscovered island, but a European. When I
appeared on deck the master said, ?Here is our captain, and
he will not allow you to perish on the open sea.?
On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English,
although with a foreign accent. ?Before I come on board
your vessel,? said he, ?will you have the kindness to inform
me whither you are bound??
You may conceive my astonishment on hearing such a
16 Frankenstein
question addressed to me from a man on the brink of destruction
and to whom I should have supposed that my
vessel would have been a resource which he would not have
exchanged for the most precious wealth the earth can afford.
I replied, however, that we were on a voyage of discovery towards
the northern pole.
Upon hearing this he appeared satisfied and consented
to come on board. Good God! Margaret, if you had seen
the man who thus capitulated for his safety, your surprise
would have been boundless. His limbs were nearly frozen,
and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering.
I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. We attempted
to carry him into the cabin, but as soon as he had quitted
the fresh air he fainted. We accordingly brought him back
to the deck and restored him to animation by rubbing him
with brandy and forcing him to swallow a small quantity.
As soon as he showed signs of life we wrapped him up in
blankets and placed him near the chimney of the kitchen
stove. By slow degrees he recovered and ate a little soup,
which restored him wonderfully.
Two days passed in this manner before he was able to
speak, and I often feared that his sufferings had deprived
him of understanding. When he had in some measure recovered,
I removed him to my own cabin and attended on
him as much as my duty would permit. I never saw a more
interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression
of wildness, and even madness, but there are moments
when, if anyone performs an act of kindness towards him
or does him the most trifling service, his whole counte-
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nance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence
and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally
melancholy and despairing, and sometimes he gnashes his
teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses
When my guest was a little recovered I had great trouble
to keep off the men, who wished to ask him a thousand
questions; but I would not allow him to be tormented by
their idle curiosity, in a state of body and mind whose restoration
evidently depended upon entire repose. Once,
however, the lieutenant asked why he had come so far upon
the ice in so strange a vehicle.
His countenance instantly assumed an aspect of the
deepest gloom, and he replied, ?To seek one who fled from
?And did the man whom you pursued travel in the same
?Then I fancy we have seen him, for the day before we
picked you up we saw some dogs drawing a sledge, with a
man in it, across the ice.?
This aroused the stranger?s attention, and he asked a
multitude of questions concerning the route which the demon,
as he called him, had pursued. Soon after, when he
was alone with me, he said, ?I have, doubtless, excited your
curiosity, as well as that of these good people; but you are
too considerate to make inquiries.?
?Certainly; it would indeed be very impertinent and inhuman
of me to trouble you with any inquisitiveness of
18 Frankenstein
?And yet you rescued me from a strange and perilous situation;
you have benevolently restored me to life.?
Soon after this he inquired if I thought that the breaking
up of the ice had destroyed the other sledge. I replied that
I could not answer with any degree of certainty, for the ice
had not broken until near midnight, and the traveller might
have arrived at a place of safety before that time; but of this
I could not judge.
From this time a new spirit of life animated the decaying
frame of the stranger. He manifested the greatest eagerness
to be upon deck to watch for the sledge which had before
appeared; but I have persuaded him to remain in the cabin,
for he is far too weak to sustain the rawness of the atmosphere.
I have promised that someone should watch for him
and give him instant notice if any new object should appear
in sight.
Such is my journal of what relates to this strange occurrence
up to the present day. The stranger has gradually
improved in health but is very silent and appears uneasy
when anyone except myself enters his cabin. Yet his manners
are so conciliating and gentle that the sailors are all
interested in him, although they have had very little communication
with him. For my own part, I begin to love
him as a brother, and his constant and deep grief fills me
with sympathy and compassion. He must have been a noble
creature in his better days, being even now in wreck so attractive
and amiable.
I said in one of my letters, my dear Margaret, that I
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should find no friend on the wide ocean; yet I have found
a man who, before his spirit had been broken by misery, I
should have been happy to have possessed as the brother of
my heart.
I shall continue my journal concerning the stranger at
intervals, should I have any fresh incidents to record.
August 13th, 17?
My affection for my guest increases every day. He excites
at once my admiration and my pity to an astonishing degree.
How can I see so noble a creature destroyed by misery
without feeling the most poignant grief? He is so gentle, yet
so wise; his mind is so cultivated, and when he speaks, although
his words are culled with the choicest art, yet they
flow with rapidity and unparalleled eloquence.
He is now much recovered from his illness and is continually
on the deck, apparently watching for the sledge
that preceded his own. Yet, although unhappy, he is not
so utterly occupied by his own misery but that he interests
himself deeply in the projects of others. He has frequently
conversed with me on mine, which I have communicated
to him without disguise. He entered attentively into all my
arguments in favour of my eventual success and into every
minute detail of the measures I had taken to secure it. I was
easily led by the sympathy which he evinced to use the language
of my heart, to give utterance to the burning ardour
of my soul, and to say, with all the fervour that warmed me,
how gladly I would sacrifice my fortune, my existence, my
every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. One man?s
life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquire-
20 Frankenstein
ment of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion
I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of
our race. As I spoke, a dark gloom spread over my listener?s
countenance. At first I perceived that he tried to suppress
his emotion; he placed his hands before his eyes, and my
voice quivered and failed me as I beheld tears trickle fast
from between his fingers; a groan burst from his heaving
breast. I paused; at length he spoke, in broken accents: ?Unhappy
man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk
also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my
tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!?
Such words, you may imagine, strongly excited my curiosity;
but the paroxysm of grief that had seized the stranger
overcame his weakened powers, and many hours of repose
and tranquil conversation were necessary to restore his
Having conquered the violence of his feelings, he appeared
to despise himself for being the slave of passion;
and quelling the dark tyranny of despair, he led me again
to converse concerning myself personally. He asked me the
history of my earlier years. The tale was quickly told, but it
awakened various trains of reflection. I spoke of my desire
of finding a friend, of my thirst for a more intimate sympathy
with a fellow mind than had ever fallen to my lot, and
expressed my conviction that a man could boast of little
happiness who did not enjoy this blessing.
?I agree with you,? replied the stranger; ?we are unfashioned
creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better,
dearer than ourselves? such a friend ought to be?do not
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lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures. I
once had a friend, the most noble of human creatures, and
am entitled, therefore, to judge respecting friendship. You
have hope, and the world before you, and have no cause for
despair. But I?I have lost everything and cannot begin life
As he said this his countenance became expressive of a
calm, settled grief that touched me to the heart. But he was
silent and presently retired to his cabin.
Even broken in spirit as he is, no one can feel more deeply
than he does the beauties of nature. The starry sky, the sea,
and every sight afforded by these wonderful regions seem
still to have the power of elevating his soul from earth. Such
a man has a double existence: he may suffer misery and be
overwhelmed by disappointments, yet when he has retired
into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit that has a halo
around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures.
Will you smile at the enthusiasm I express concerning
this divine wanderer? You would not if you saw him. You
have been tutored and refined by books and retirement
from the world, and you are therefore somewhat fastidious;
but this only renders you the more fit to appreciate the
extraordinary merits of this wonderful man. Sometimes I
have endeavoured to discover what quality it is which he
possesses that elevates him so immeasurably above any
other person I ever knew. I believe it to be an intuitive discernment,
a quick but never-failing power of judgment, a
penetration into the causes of things, unequalled for clearness
and precision; add to this a facility of expression and a
22 Frankenstein
voice whose varied intonations are soul-subduing music.
August 19, 17?
Yesterday the stranger said to me, ?You may easily
perceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled
misfortunes. I had determined at one time that
the memory of these evils should die with me, but you have
won me to alter my determination. You seek for knowledge
and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the
gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting
you, as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of
my disasters will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that
you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the
same dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine
that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale, one
that may direct you if you succeed in your undertaking and
console you in case of failure. Prepare to hear of occurrences
which are usually deemed marvellous. Were we among
the tamer scenes of nature I might fear to encounter your
unbelief, perhaps your ridicule; but many things will appear
possible in these wild and mysterious regions which
would provoke the laughter of those unacquainted with the
ever-varied powers of nature; nor can I doubt but that my
tale conveys in its series internal evidence of the truth of the
events of which it is composed.?
You may easily imagine that I was much gratified by
the offered communication, yet I could not endure that he
should renew his grief by a recital of his misfortunes. I felt
the greatest eagerness to hear the promised narrative, partly
from curiosity and partly from a strong desire to ameliorate
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his fate if it were in my power. I expressed these feelings in
my answer.
?I thank you,? he replied, ?for your sympathy, but it is useless;
my fate is nearly fulfilled. I wait but for one event, and
then I shall repose in peace. I understand your feeling,? continued
he, perceiving that I wished to interrupt him; ?but
you are mistaken, my friend, if thus you will allow me to
name you; nothing can alter my destiny; listen to my history,
and you will perceive how irrevocably it is determined.?
He then told me that he would commence his narrative
the next day when I should be at leisure. This promise drew
from me the warmest thanks. I have resolved every night,
when I am not imperatively occupied by my duties, to record,
as nearly as possible in his own words, what he has
related during the day. If I should be engaged, I will at least
make notes. This manuscript will doubtless afford you the
greatest pleasure; but to me, who know him and who hear it
from his own lips?with what interest and sympathy shall
I read it in some future day! Even now, as I commence my
task, his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes
dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness; I see his
thin hand raised in animation, while the lineaments of his
face are irradiated by the soul within. Strange and harrowing
must be his story, frightful the storm which embraced
the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it?thus!
24 Frankenstein
Chapter 1
I am by birth a Genevese, and my family is one of the
most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had
been for many years counsellors and syndics, and my father
had filled several public situations with honour and
reputation. He was respected by all who knew him for his
integrity and indefatigable attention to public business. He
passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs
of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his
marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he
became a husband and the father of a family.
As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his character,
I cannot refrain from relating them. One of his most
intimate friends was a merchant who, from a flourishing
state, fell, through numerous mischances, into poverty.
This man, whose name was Beaufort, was of a proud and
unbending disposition and could not bear to live in poverty
and oblivion in the same country where he had formerly
been distinguished for his rank and magnificence. Having
paid his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner,
he retreated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne,
where he lived unknown and in wretchedness. My father
loved Beaufort with the truest friendship and was deeply
grieved by his retreat in these unfortunate circumstances.
He bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to
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a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them.
He lost no time in endeavouring to seek him out, with the
hope of persuading him to begin the world again through
his credit and assistance.
Beaufort had taken effectual measures to conceal himself,
and it was ten months before my father discovered his
abode. Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the house,
which was situated in a mean street near the Reuss. But
when he entered, misery and despair alone welcomed him.
Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money from
the wreck of his fortunes, but it was sufficient to provide
him with sustenance for some months, and in the meantime
he hoped to procure some respectable employment in
a merchant?s house. The interval was, consequently, spent
in inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling
when he had leisure for reflection, and at length it took so
fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay
on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertion.
His daughter attended him with the greatest tenderness,
but she saw with despair that their little fund was rapidly
decreasing and that there was no other prospect of support.
But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon
mould, and her courage rose to support her in her adversity.
She procured plain work; she plaited straw and by various
means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely sufficient to
support life.
Several months passed in this manner. Her father grew
worse; her time was more entirely occupied in attending
him; her means of subsistence decreased; and in the tenth
26 Frankenstein
month her father died in her arms, leaving her an orphan
and a beggar. This last blow overcame her, and she knelt by
Beaufort?s coffin weeping bitterly, when my father entered
the chamber. He came like a protecting spirit to the poor
girl, who committed herself to his care; and after the interment
of his friend he conducted her to Geneva and placed
her under the protection of a relation. Two years after this
event Caroline became his wife.
There was a considerable difference between the ages of
my parents, but this circumstance seemed to unite them only
closer in bonds of devoted affection. There was a sense of
justice in my father?s upright mind which rendered it necessary
that he should approve highly to love strongly. Perhaps
during former years he had suffered from the late-discovered
unworthiness of one beloved and so was disposed to
set a greater value on tried worth. There was a show of gratitude
and worship in his attachment to my mother, differing
wholly from the doting fondness of age, for it was inspired
by reverence for her virtues and a desire to be the means of,
in some degree, recompensing her for the sorrows she had
endured, but which gave inexpressible grace to his behaviour
to her. Everything was made to yield to her wishes and
her convenience. He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is
sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind and to
surround her with all that could tend to excite pleasurable
emotion in her soft and benevolent mind. Her health, and
even the tranquillity of her hitherto constant spirit, had
been shaken by what she had gone through. During the two
years that had elapsed previous to their marriage my father
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had gradually relinquished all his public functions; and immediately
after their union they sought the pleasant climate
of Italy, and the change of scene and interest attendant on
a tour through that land of wonders, as a restorative for her
weakened frame.
From Italy they visited Germany and France. I, their
eldest child, was born at Naples, and as an infant accompanied
them in their rambles. I remained for several years
their only child. Much as they were attached to each other,
they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from
a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. My mother?s
tender caresses and my father?s smile of benevolent pleasure
while regarding me are my first recollections. I was
their plaything and their idol, and something better?their
child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them
by heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future
lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery,
according as they fulfilled their duties towards me. With
this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being
to which they had given life, added to the active spirit
of tenderness that animated both, it may be imagined that
while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson
of patience, of charity, and of self-control, I was so guided
by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment
to me.
For a long time I was their only care. My mother had
much desired to have a daughter, but I continued their
single offspring. When I was about five years old, while
making an excursion beyond the frontiers of Italy, they
28 Frankenstein
passed a week on the shores of the Lake of Como. Their
benevolent disposition often made them enter the cottages
of the poor. This, to my mother, was more than a duty;
it was a necessity, a passion?remembering what she had
suffered, and how she had been relieved?for her to act in
her turn the guardian angel to the afflicted. During one of
their walks a poor cot in the foldings of a vale attracted their
notice as being singularly disconsolate, while the number
of half-clothed children gathered about it spoke of penury
in its worst shape. One day, when my father had gone by
himself to Milan, my mother, accompanied by me, visited
this abode. She found a peasant and his wife, hard working,
bent down by care and labour, distributing a scanty meal
to five hungry babes. Among these there was one which attracted
my mother far above all the rest. She appeared of a
different stock. The four others were dark-eyed, hardy little
vagrants; this child was thin and very fair. Her hair was the
brightest living gold, and despite the poverty of her clothing,
seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her
brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her
lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility
and sweetness that none could behold her without looking
on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and
bearing a celestial stamp in all her features.
The peasant woman, perceiving that my mother fixed
eyes of wonder and admiration on this lovely girl, eagerly
communicated her history. She was not her child, but the
daughter of a Milanese nobleman. Her mother was a German
and had died on giving her birth. The infant had been
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placed with these good people to nurse: they were better off
then. They had not been long married, and their eldest child
was but just born. The father of their charge was one of those
Italians nursed in the memory of the antique glory of Italy?one
among the *schiavi ognor frementi*, who exerted
himself to obtain the liberty of his country. He became the
victim of its weakness. Whether he had died or still lingered
in the dungeons of Austria was not known. His property
was confiscated; his child became an orphan and a beggar.
She continued with her foster parents and bloomed in their
rude abode, fairer than a garden rose among dark-leaved
When my father returned from Milan, he found playing
with me in the hall of our villa a child fairer than pictured
cherub? a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her
looks and whose form and motions were lighter than the
chamois of the hills. The apparition was soon explained.
With his permission my mother prevailed on her rustic
guardians to yield their charge to her. They were fond of the
sweet orphan. Her presence had seemed a blessing to them,
but it would be unfair to her to keep her in poverty and
want when Providence afforded her such powerful protection.
They consulted their village priest, and the result was
that Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents?
house? my more than sister?the beautiful and adored
companion of all my occupations and my pleasures.
Everyone loved Elizabeth. The passionate and almost
reverential attachment with which all regarded her became,
while I shared it, my pride and my delight. On the evening
30 Frankenstein
previous to her being brought to my home, my mother had
said playfully, ?I have a pretty present for my Victor? tomorrow
he shall have it.? And when, on the morrow, she
presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, I, with
childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally and
looked upon Elizabeth as mine?mine to protect, love, and
cherish. All praises bestowed on her I received as made to
a possession of my own. We called each other familiarly
by the name of cousin. No word, no expression could body
forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me?my
more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only.
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Chapter 2
We were brought up together; there was not quite a year
difference in our ages. I need not say that we were
strangers to any species of disunion or dispute. Harmony
was the soul of our companionship, and the diversity and
contrast that subsisted in our characters drew us nearer
together. Elizabeth was of a calmer and more concentrated
disposition; but, with all my ardour, I was capable of a
more intense application and was more deeply smitten with
the thirst for knowledge. She busied herself with following
the aerial creations of the poets; and in the majestic and
wondrous scenes which surrounded our Swiss home?the
sublime shapes of the mountains, the changes of the seasons,
tempest and calm, the silence of winter, and the life
and turbulence of our Alpine summers?she found ample
scope for admiration and delight. While my companion
contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit the magnificent
appearances of things, I delighted in investigating
their causes. The world was to me a secret which I desired to
divine. Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws
of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded
to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember.
On the birth of a second son, my junior by seven years,
my parents gave up entirely their wandering life and fixed
themselves in their native country. We possessed a house
32 Frankenstein
in Geneva, and a campagne on Belrive, the eastern shore of
the lake, at the distance of rather more than a league from
the city. We resided principally in the latter, and the lives
of my parents were passed in considerable seclusion. It was
my temper to avoid a crowd and to attach myself fervently
to a few. I was indifferent, therefore, to my school-fellows
in general; but I united myself in the bonds of the closest
friendship to one among them. Henry Clerval was the son
of a merchant of Geneva. He was a boy of singular talent
and fancy. He loved enterprise, hardship, and even danger
for its own sake. He was deeply read in books of chivalry
and romance. He composed heroic songs and began to
write many a tale of enchantment and knightly adventure.
He tried to make us act plays and to enter into masquerades,
in which the characters were drawn from the heroes
of Roncesvalles, of the Round Table of King Arthur, and the
chivalrous train who shed their blood to redeem the holy
sepulchre from the hands of the infidels.
No human being could have passed a happier childhood
than myself. My parents were possessed by the very spirit
of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not
the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but
the agents and creators of all the many delights which we
enjoyed. When I mingled with other families I distinctly
discerned how peculiarly fortunate my lot was, and gratitude
assisted the development of filial love.
My temper was sometimes violent, and my passions
vehement; but by some law in my temperature they were
turned not towards childish pursuits but to an eager de-
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sire to learn, and not to learn all things indiscriminately.
I confess that neither the structure of languages, nor the
code of governments, nor the politics of various states possessed
attractions for me. It was the secrets of heaven and
earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward
substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and
the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries
were directed to the metaphysical, or in its highest
sense, the physical secrets of the world.
Meanwhile Clerval occupied himself, so to speak, with
the moral relations of things. The busy stage of life, the virtues
of heroes, and the actions of men were his theme; and
his hope and his dream was to become one among those
whose names are recorded in story as the gallant and adventurous
benefactors of our species. The saintly soul of
Elizabeth shone like a shrine-dedicated lamp in our peaceful
home. Her sympathy was ours; her smile, her soft voice,
the sweet glance of her celestial eyes, were ever there to
bless and animate us. She was the living spirit of love to
soften and attract; I might have become sullen in my study,
through the ardour of my nature, but that she was there
to subdue me to a semblance of her own gentleness. And
Clerval?could aught ill entrench on the noble spirit of
Clerval? Yet he might not have been so perfectly humane, so
thoughtful in his generosity, so full of kindness and tenderness
amidst his passion for adventurous exploit, had she not
unfolded to him the real loveliness of beneficence and made
the doing good the end and aim of his soaring ambition.
I feel exquisite pleasure in dwelling on the recollec-
34 Frankenstein
tions of childhood, before misfortune had tainted my mind
and changed its bright visions of extensive usefulness into
gloomy and narrow reflections upon self. Besides, in drawing
the picture of my early days, I also record those events
which led, by insensible steps, to my after tale of misery, for
when I would account to myself for the birth of that passion
which afterward ruled my destiny I find it arise, like a
mountain river, from ignoble and almost forgotten sources;
but, swelling as it proceeded, it became the torrent which,
in its course, has swept away all my hopes and joys. Natural
philosophy is the genius that has regulated my fate; I desire,
therefore, in this narration, to state those facts which led to
my predilection for that science. When I was thirteen years
of age we all went on a party of pleasure to the baths near
Thonon; the inclemency of the weather obliged us to remain
a day confined to the inn. In this house I chanced to find a
volume of the works of Cornelius Agrippa. I opened it with
apathy; the theory which he attempts to demonstrate and
the wonderful facts which he relates soon changed this feeling
into enthusiasm. A new light seemed to dawn upon my
mind, and bounding with joy, I communicated my discovery
to my father. My father looked carelessly at the title page
of my book and said, ?Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor,
do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash.?
If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains
to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been
entirely exploded and that a modern system of science had
been introduced which possessed much greater powers than
the ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimeri-
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cal, while those of the former were real and practical, under
such circumstances I should certainly have thrown Agrippa
aside and have contented my imagination, warmed as it
was, by returning with greater ardour to my former studies.
It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never
have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin. But the
cursory glance my father had taken of my volume by no
means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents,
and I continued to read with the greatest avidity. When I returned
home my first care was to procure the whole works
of this author, and afterwards of Paracelsus and Albertus
Magnus. I read and studied the wild fancies of these writers
with delight; they appeared to me treasures known to few
besides myself. I have described myself as always having
been imbued with a fervent longing to penetrate the secrets
of nature. In spite of the intense labour and wonderful discoveries
of modern philosophers, I always came from my
studies discontented and unsatisfied. Sir Isaac Newton is
said to have avowed that he felt like a child picking up shells
beside the great and unexplored ocean of truth. Those of
his successors in each branch of natural philosophy with
whom I was acquainted appeared even to my boy?s apprehensions
as tyros engaged in the same pursuit.
The untaught peasant beheld the elements around him
and was acquainted with their practical uses. The most
learned philosopher knew little more. He had partially unveiled
the face of Nature, but her immortal lineaments were
still a wonder and a mystery. He might dissect, anatomize,
and give names; but, not to speak of a final cause, causes in
36 Frankenstein
their secondary and tertiary grades were utterly unknown
to him. I had gazed upon the fortifications and impediments
that seemed to keep human beings from entering the
citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined.
But here were books, and here were men who had penetrated
deeper and knew more. I took their word for all that
they averred, and I became their disciple. It may appear
strange that such should arise in the eighteenth century;
but while I followed the routine of education in the schools
of Geneva, I was, to a great degree, self-taught with regard
to my favourite studies. My father was not scientific, and
I was left to struggle with a child?s blindness, added to a
student?s thirst for knowledge. Under the guidance of my
new preceptors I entered with the greatest diligence into the
search of the philosopher?s stone and the elixir of life; but
the latter soon obtained my undivided attention. Wealth
was an inferior object, but what glory would attend the discovery
if I could banish disease from the human frame and
render man invulnerable to any but a violent death! Nor
were these my only visions. The raising of ghosts or devils
was a promise liberally accorded by my favourite authors,
the fulfillment of which I most eagerly sought; and if my
incantations were always unsuccessful, I attributed the failure
rather to my own inexperience and mistake than to a
want of skill or fidelity in my instructors. And thus for a
time I was occupied by exploded systems, mingling, like an
unadept, a thousand contradictory theories and floundering
desperately in a very slough of multifarious knowledge,
guided by an ardent imagination and childish reason-
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ing, till an accident again changed the current of my ideas.
When I was about fifteen years old we had retired to our
house near Belrive, when we witnessed a most violent and
terrible thunderstorm. It advanced from behind the mountains
of Jura, and the thunder burst at once with frightful
loudness from various quarters of the heavens. I remained,
while the storm lasted, watching its progress with curiosity
and delight. As I stood at the door, on a sudden I beheld
a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak which
stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as
the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and
nothing remained but a blasted stump. When we visited it
the next morning, we found the tree shattered in a singular
manner. It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced
to thin ribbons of wood. I never beheld anything so
utterly destroyed.
Before this I was not unacquainted with the more obvious
laws of electricity. On this occasion a man of great
research in natural philosophy was with us, and excited by
this catastrophe, he entered on the explanation of a theory
which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism,
which was at once new and astonishing to me. All
that he said threw greatly into the shade Cornelius Agrippa,
Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, the lords of my imagination;
but by some fatality the overthrow of these men
disinclined me to pursue my accustomed studies. It seemed
to me as if nothing would or could ever be known. All that
had so long engaged my attention suddenly grew despicable.
By one of those caprices of the mind which we are perhaps
38 Frankenstein
most subject to in early youth, I at once gave up my former
occupations, set down natural history and all its progeny
as a deformed and abortive creation, and entertained the
greatest disdain for a would-be science which could never
even step within the threshold of real knowledge. In this
mood of mind I betook myself to the mathematics and the
branches of study appertaining to that science as being
built upon secure foundations, and so worthy of my consideration.
Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such
slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin. When I
look back, it seems to me as if this almost miraculous change
of inclination and will was the immediate suggestion of the
guardian angel of my life?the last effort made by the spirit
of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hanging
in the stars and ready to envelop me. Her victory was
announced by an unusual tranquillity and gladness of soul
which followed the relinquishing of my ancient and latterly
tormenting studies. It was thus that I was to be taught to
associate evil with their prosecution, happiness with their
It was a strong effort of the spirit of good, but it was ineffectual.
Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws
had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.
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Chapter 3
When I had attained the age of seventeen my parents
resolved that I should become a student at the university
of Ingolstadt. I had hitherto attended the schools of
Geneva, but my father thought it necessary for the completion
of my education that I should be made acquainted with
other customs than those of my native country. My departure
was therefore fixed at an early date, but before the day
resolved upon could arrive, the first misfortune of my life
occurred?an omen, as it were, of my future misery. Elizabeth
had caught the scarlet fever; her illness was severe, and
she was in the greatest danger. During her illness many arguments
had been urged to persuade my mother to refrain
from attending upon her. She had at first yielded to our entreaties,
but when she heard that the life of her favourite
was menaced, she could no longer control her anxiety. She
attended her sickbed; her watchful attentions triumphed
over the malignity of the distemper?Elizabeth was saved,
but the consequences of this imprudence were fatal to her
preserver. On the third day my mother sickened; her fever
was accompanied by the most alarming symptoms, and the
looks of her medical attendants prognosticated the worst
event. On her deathbed the fortitude and benignity of this
best of women did not desert her. She joined the hands of
Elizabeth and myself. ?My children,? she said, ?my firmest
40 Frankenstein
hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of
your union. This expectation will now be the consolation of
your father. Elizabeth, my love, you must supply my place
to my younger children. Alas! I regret that I am taken from
you; and, happy and beloved as I have been, is it not hard to
quit you all? But these are not thoughts befitting me; I will
endeavour to resign myself cheerfully to death and will indulge
a hope of meeting you in another world.?
She died calmly, and her countenance expressed affection
even in death. I need not describe the feelings of those
whose dearest ties are rent by that most irreparable evil, the
void that presents itself to the soul, and the despair that is
exhibited on the countenance. It is so long before the mind
can persuade itself that she whom we saw every day and
whose very existence appeared a part of our own can have
departed forever?that the brightness of a beloved eye can
have been extinguished and the sound of a voice so familiar
and dear to the ear can be hushed, never more to be heard.
These are the reflections of the first days; but when the lapse
of time proves the reality of the evil, then the actual bitterness
of grief commences. Yet from whom has not that rude
hand rent away some dear connection? And why should I describe
a sorrow which all have felt, and must feel? The time
at length arrives when grief is rather an indulgence than a
necessity; and the smile that plays upon the lips, although it
may be deemed a sacrilege, is not banished. My mother was
dead, but we had still duties which we ought to perform; we
must continue our course with the rest and learn to think
ourselves fortunate whilst one remains whom the spoiler
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has not seized. My departure for Ingolstadt, which had been
deferred by these events, was now again determined upon.
I obtained from my father a respite of some weeks. It appeared
to me sacrilege so soon to leave the repose, akin to
death, of the house of mourning and to rush into the thick
of life. I was new to sorrow, but it did not the less alarm me.
I was unwilling to quit the sight of those that remained to
me, and above all, I desired to see my sweet Elizabeth in
some degree consoled.
She indeed veiled her grief and strove to act the comforter
to us all. She looked steadily on life and assumed its
duties with courage and zeal. She devoted herself to those
whom she had been taught to call her uncle and cousins.
Never was she so enchanting as at this time, when she recalled
the sunshine of her smiles and spent them upon us.
She forgot even her own regret in her endeavours to make
us forget.
The day of my departure at length arrived. Clerval spent
the last evening with us. He had endeavoured to persuade
his father to permit him to accompany me and to become
my fellow student, but in vain. His father was a narrowminded
trader and saw idleness and ruin in the aspirations
and ambition of his son. Henry deeply felt the misfortune of
being debarred from a liberal education. He said little, but
when he spoke I read in his kindling eye and in his animated
glance a restrained but firm resolve not to be chained to
the miserable details of commerce.
We sat late. We could not tear ourselves away from each
other nor persuade ourselves to say the word ?Farewell!? It
42 Frankenstein
was said, and we retired under the pretence of seeking repose,
each fancying that the other was deceived; but when
at morning?s dawn I descended to the carriage which was
to convey me away, they were all there?my father again to
bless me, Clerval to press my hand once more, my Elizabeth
to renew her entreaties that I would write often and
to bestow the last feminine attentions on her playmate and
I threw myself into the chaise that was to convey me away
and indulged in the most melancholy reflections. I, who had
ever been surrounded by amiable companions, continually
engaged in endeavouring to bestow mutual pleasure?I
was now alone. In the university whither I was going I must
form my own friends and be my own protector. My life had
hitherto been remarkably secluded and domestic, and this
had given me invincible repugnance to new countenances.
I loved my brothers, Elizabeth, and Clerval; these were ?old
familiar faces,? but I believed myself totally unfitted for the
company of strangers. Such were my reflections as I commenced
my journey; but as I proceeded, my spirits and
hopes rose. I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge.
I had often, when at home, thought it hard to remain during
my youth cooped up in one place and had longed to enter
the world and take my station among other human beings.
Now my desires were complied with, and it would, indeed,
have been folly to repent.
I had sufficient leisure for these and many other reflections
during my journey to Ingolstadt, which was long and
fatiguing. At length the high white steeple of the town met
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my eyes. I alighted and was conducted to my solitary apartment
to spend the evening as I pleased.
The next morning I delivered my letters of introduction
and paid a visit to some of the principal professors.
Chance?or rather the evil influence, the Angel of Destruction,
which asserted omnipotent sway over me from
the moment I turned my reluctant steps from my father?s
door?led me first to M. Krempe, professor of natural philosophy.
He was an uncouth man, but deeply imbued in the
secrets of his science. He asked me several questions concerning
my progress in the different branches of science
appertaining to natural philosophy. I replied carelessly, and
partly in contempt, mentioned the names of my alchemists
as the principal authors I had studied. The professor stared.
?Have you,? he said, ?really spent your time in studying such
I replied in the affirmative. ?Every minute,? continued M.
Krempe with warmth, ?every instant that you have wasted
on those books is utterly and entirely lost. You have burdened
your memory with exploded systems and useless
names. Good God! In what desert land have you lived,
where no one was kind enough to inform you that these
fancies which you have so greedily imbibed are a thousand
years old and as musty as they are ancient? I little expected,
in this enlightened and scientific age, to find a disciple of
Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus. My dear sir, you must begin
your studies entirely anew.?
So saying, he stepped aside and wrote down a list of several
books treating of natural philosophy which he desired
44 Frankenstein
me to procure, and dismissed me after mentioning that in
the beginning of the following week he intended to commence
a course of lectures upon natural philosophy in its
general relations, and that M. Waldman, a fellow professor,
would lecture upon chemistry the alternate days that
he omitted.
I returned home not disappointed, for I have said that I
had long considered those authors useless whom the professor
reprobated; but I returned not at all the more inclined to
recur to these studies in any shape. M. Krempe was a little
squat man with a gruff voice and a repulsive countenance;
the teacher, therefore, did not prepossess me in favour of
his pursuits. In rather a too philosophical and connected a
strain, perhaps, I have given an account of the conclusions I
had come to concerning them in my early years. As a child I
had not been content with the results promised by the modern
professors of natural science. With a confusion of ideas
only to be accounted for by my extreme youth and my want
of a guide on such matters, I had retrod the steps of knowledge
along the paths of time and exchanged the discoveries
of recent inquirers for the dreams of forgotten alchemists.
Besides, I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural
philosophy. It was very different when the masters of the
science sought immortality and power; such views, although
futile, were grand; but now the scene was changed.
The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation
of those visions on which my interest in science
was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of
boundless grandeur for realities of little worth.
Free eBooks at Planet 45
Such were my reflections during the first two or three
days of my residence at Ingolstadt, which were chiefly spent
in becoming acquainted with the localities and the principal
residents in my new abode. But as the ensuing week
commenced, I thought of the information which M. Krempe
had given me concerning the lectures. And although I
could not consent to go and hear that little conceited fellow
deliver sentences out of a pulpit, I recollected what he
had said of M. Waldman, whom I had never seen, as he had
hitherto been out of town.
Partly from curiosity and partly from idleness, I went
into the lecturing room, which M. Waldman entered shortly
after. This professor was very unlike his colleague. He
appeared about fifty years of age, but with an aspect expressive
of the greatest benevolence; a few grey hairs covered
his temples, but those at the back of his head were nearly
black. His person was short but remarkably erect and his
voice the sweetest I had ever heard. He began his lecture by
a recapitulation of the history of chemistry and the various
improvements made by different men of learning, pronouncing
with fervour the names of the most distinguished
discoverers. He then took a cursory view of the present state
of the science and explained many of its elementary terms.
After having made a few preparatory experiments, he concluded
with a panegyric upon modern chemistry, the terms
of which I shall never forget: ?The ancient teachers of this
science,? said he, ?promised impossibilities and performed
nothing. The modern masters promise very little; they know
that metals cannot be transmuted and that the elixir of life
46 Frankenstein
is a chimera but these philosophers, whose hands seem
only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pore over the
microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles.
They penetrate into the recesses of nature and show how
she works in her hiding-places. They ascend into the heavens;
they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the
nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and
almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders
of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible
world with its own shadows.?
Such were the professor?s words?rather let me say such
the words of the fate?enounced to destroy me. As he went
on I felt as if my soul were grappling with a palpable enemy;
one by one the various keys were touched which formed the
mechanism of my being; chord after chord was sounded,
and soon my mind was filled with one thought, one conception,
one purpose. So much has been done, exclaimed
the soul of Frankenstein?more, far more, will I achieve;
treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new
way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the
deepest mysteries of creation.
I closed not my eyes that night. My internal being was in
a state of insurrection and turmoil; I felt that order would
thence arise, but I had no power to produce it. By degrees,
after the morning?s dawn, sleep came. I awoke, and my yesternight?s
thoughts were as a dream. There only remained
a resolution to return to my ancient studies and to devote
myself to a science for which I believed myself to possess a
natural talent. On the same day I paid M. Waldman a visit.
Free eBooks at Planet 47
His manners in private were even more mild and attractive
than in public, for there was a certain dignity in his mien
during his lecture which in his own house was replaced by
the greatest affability and kindness. I gave him pretty nearly
the same account of my former pursuits as I had given to his
fellow professor. He heard with attention the little narration
concerning my studies and smiled at the names of Cornelius
Agrippa and Paracelsus, but without the contempt that
M. Krempe had exhibited. He said that ?These were men
to whose indefatigable zeal modern philosophers were indebted
for most of the foundations of their knowledge. They
had left to us, as an easier task, to give new names and arrange
in connected classifications the facts which they in
a great degree had been the instruments of bringing to
light. The labours of men of genius, however erroneously
directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid
advantage of mankind.? I listened to his statement, which
was delivered without any presumption or affectation, and
then added that his lecture had removed my prejudices
against modern chemists; I expressed myself in measured
terms, with the modesty and deference due from a youth
to his instructor, without letting escape (inexperience in
life would have made me ashamed) any of the enthusiasm
which stimulated my intended labours. I requested his advice
concerning the books I ought to procure.
?I am happy,? said M. Waldman, ?to have gained a disciple;
and if your application equals your ability, I have no doubt
of your success. Chemistry is that branch of natural philosophy
in which the greatest improvements have been and
48 Frankenstein
may be made; it is on that account that I have made it my
peculiar study; but at the same time, I have not neglected
the other branches of science. A man would make but a very
sorry chemist if he attended to that department of human
knowledge alone. If your wish is to become really a man
of science and not merely a petty experimentalist, I should
advise you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy,
including mathematics.? He then took me into his laboratory
and explained to me the uses of his various machines,
instructing me as to what I ought to procure and promising
me the use of his own when I should have advanced far
enough in the science not to derange their mechanism. He
also gave me the list of books which I had requested, and I
took my leave.
Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future
Free eBooks at Planet 49
Chapter 4
From this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry,
in the most comprehensive sense of the term,
became nearly my sole occupation. I read with ardour those
works, so full of genius and discrimination, which modern
inquirers have written on these subjects. I attended the lectures
and cultivated the acquaintance of the men of science
of the university, and I found even in M. Krempe a great
deal of sound sense and real information, combined, it is
true, with a repulsive physiognomy and manners, but not
on that account the less valuable. In M. Waldman I found a
true friend. His gentleness was never tinged by dogmatism,
and his instructions were given with an air of frankness
and good nature that banished every idea of pedantry. In a
thousand ways he smoothed for me the path of knowledge
and made the most abstruse inquiries clear and facile to my
apprehension. My application was at first fluctuating and
uncertain; it gained strength as I proceeded and soon became
so ardent and eager that the stars often disappeared
in the light of morning whilst I was yet engaged in my laboratory.
As I applied so closely, it may be easily conceived that
my progress was rapid. My ardour was indeed the astonishment
of the students, and my proficiency that of the
masters. Professor Krempe often asked me, with a sly smile,
50 Frankenstein
how Cornelius Agrippa went on, whilst M. Waldman expressed
the most heartfelt exultation in my progress. Two
years passed in this manner, during which I paid no visit to
Geneva, but was engaged, heart and soul, in the pursuit of
some discoveries which I hoped to make. None but those
who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements
of science. In other studies you go as far as others have gone
before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a
scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and
wonder. A mind of moderate capacity which closely pursues
one study must infallibly arrive at great proficiency in
that study; and I, who continually sought the attainment of
one object of pursuit and was solely wrapped up in this, improved
so rapidly that at the end of two years I made some
discoveries in the improvement of some chemical instruments,
which procured me great esteem and admiration at
the university. When I had arrived at this point and had
become as well acquainted with the theory and practice of
natural philosophy as depended on the lessons of any of the
professors at Ingolstadt, my residence there being no longer
conducive to my improvements, I thought of returning to
my friends and my native town, when an incident happened
that protracted my stay.
One of the phenomena which had peculiarly attracted
my attention was the structure of the human frame, and,
indeed, any animal endued with life. Whence, I often asked
myself, did the principle of life proceed? It was a bold question,
and one which has ever been considered as a mystery;
yet with how many things are we upon the brink of becom-
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ing acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain
our inquiries. I revolved these circumstances in my mind
and determined thenceforth to apply myself more particularly
to those branches of natural philosophy which relate
to physiology. Unless I had been animated by an almost supernatural
enthusiasm, my application to this study would
have been irksome and almost intolerable. To examine the
causes of life, we must first have recourse to death. I became
acquainted with the science of anatomy, but this was not sufficient;
I must also observe the natural decay and corruption
of the human body. In my education my father had taken
the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed
with no supernatural horrors. I do not ever remember to
have trembled at a tale of superstition or to have feared the
apparition of a spirit. Darkness had no effect upon my fancy,
and a churchyard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies
deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and
strength, had become food for the worm. Now I was led to
examine the cause and progress of this decay and forced to
spend days and nights in vaults and charnel-houses. My attention
was fixed upon every object the most insupportable
to the delicacy of the human feelings. I saw how the fine
form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption
of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw
how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain.
I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation,
as exemplified in the change from life to death, and
death to life, until from the midst of this darkness a sudden
light broke in upon me?a light so brilliant and wondrous,
52 Frankenstein
yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity
of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised that
among so many men of genius who had directed their inquiries
towards the same science, that I alone should be
reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.
Remember, I am not recording the vision of a madman.
The sun does not more certainly shine in the heavens than
that which I now affirm is true. Some miracle might have
produced it, yet the stages of the discovery were distinct and
probable. After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue,
I succeeded in discovering the cause of generation
and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing
animation upon lifeless matter.
The astonishment which I had at first experienced on
this discovery soon gave place to delight and rapture. After
so much time spent in painful labour, to arrive at once
at the summit of my desires was the most gratifying consummation
of my toils. But this discovery was so great and
overwhelming that all the steps by which I had been progressively
led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the
result. What had been the study and desire of the wisest
men since the creation of the world was now within my
grasp. Not that, like a magic scene, it all opened upon me at
once: the information I had obtained was of a nature rather
to direct my endeavours so soon as I should point them towards
the object of my search than to exhibit that object
already accomplished. I was like the Arabian who had been
buried with the dead and found a passage to life, aided only
by one glimmering and seemingly ineffectual light.
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I see by your eagerness and the wonder and hope which
your eyes express, my friend, that you expect to be informed
of the secret with which I am acquainted; that cannot be;
listen patiently until the end of my story, and you will easily
perceive why I am reserved upon that subject. I will not
lead you on, unguarded and ardent as I then was, to your
destruction and infallible misery. 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.
When I found so astonishing a power placed within my
hands, I hesitated a long time concerning the manner in
which I should employ it. Although I possessed the capacity
of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the
reception of it, with all its intricacies of fibres, muscles, and
veins, still remained a work of inconceivable difficulty and
labour. I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation
of a being like myself, or one of simpler organization;
but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success
to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an
animal as complete and wonderful as man. The materials at
present within my command hardly appeared adequate to
so arduous an undertaking, but I doubted not that I should
ultimately succeed. I prepared myself for a multitude of
reverses; my operations might be incessantly baffled, and
at last my work be imperfect, yet when I considered the
improvement which every day takes place in science and
mechanics, I was encouraged to hope my present attempts
54 Frankenstein
would at least lay the foundations of future success. Nor
could I consider the magnitude and complexity of my plan
as any argument of its impracticability. It was with these
feelings that I began the creation of a human being. As the
minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my
speed, I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the
being of a gigantic stature, that is to say, about eight feet in
height, and proportionably large. After having formed this
determination and having spent some months in successfully
collecting and arranging my materials, I began.
No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore
me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success.
Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I
should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into
our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator
and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe
their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of
his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing
these reflections, I thought that if I could bestow animation
upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I
now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently
devoted the body to corruption.
These thoughts supported my spirits, while I pursued
my undertaking with unremitting ardour. My cheek had
grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated
with confinement. Sometimes, on the very brink of
certainty, I failed; yet still I clung to the hope which the
next day or the next hour might realize. One secret which I
alone possessed was the hope to which I had dedicated my-
Free eBooks at Planet 55
self; and the moon gazed on my midnight labours, while,
with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature
to her hiding-places. Who shall conceive the horrors of my
secret toil as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the
grave or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless
clay? My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the
remembrance; but then a resistless and almost frantic impulse
urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or
sensation but for this one pursuit. It was indeed but a passing
trance, that only made me feel with renewed acuteness
so soon as, the unnatural stimulus ceasing to operate, I had
returned to my old habits. I collected bones from charnelhouses
and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous
secrets of the human frame. In a solitary chamber, or rather
cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the
other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop
of filthy creation; my eyeballs were starting from their
sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The
dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many
of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with
loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an
eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work
near to a conclusion.
The summer months passed while I was thus engaged,
heart and soul, in one pursuit. It was a most beautiful season;
never did the fields bestow a more plentiful harvest or
the vines yield a more luxuriant vintage, but my eyes were
insensible to the charms of nature. And the same feelings
which made me neglect the scenes around me caused me
56 Frankenstein
also to forget those friends who were so many miles absent,
and whom I had not seen for so long a time. I knew my silence
disquieted them, and I well remembered the words
of my father: ?I know that while you are pleased with yourself
you will think of us with affection, and we shall hear
regularly from you. You must pardon me if I regard any
interruption in your correspondence as a proof that your
other duties are equally neglected.?
I knew well therefore what would be my father?s feelings,
but I could not tear my thoughts from my employment,
loathsome in itself, but which had taken an irresistible hold
of my imagination. I wished, as it were, to procrastinate all
that related to my feelings of affection until the great object,
which swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be
I then thought that my father would be unjust if he ascribed
my neglect to vice or faultiness on my part, but I am
now convinced that he was justified in conceiving that I
should not be altogether free from blame. A human being
in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful
mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire
to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think that the pursuit
of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to
which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections
and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures
in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly
unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind.
If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any
pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his
Free eBooks at Planet 57
domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar
would have spared his country, America would have been
discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and
Peru had not been destroyed.
But I forget that I am moralizing in the most interesting
part of my tale, and your looks remind me to proceed. My
father made no reproach in his letters and only took notice
of my science by inquiring into my occupations more particularly
than before. Winter, spring, and summer passed
away during my labours; but I did not watch the blossom or
the expanding leaves?sights which before always yielded
me supreme delight?so deeply was I engrossed in my occupation.
The leaves of that year had withered before my
work drew near to a close, and now every day showed me
more plainly how well I had succeeded. But my enthusiasm
was checked by my anxiety, and I appeared rather like one
doomed by slavery to toil in the mines, or any other unwholesome
trade than an artist occupied by his favourite
employment. Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever,
and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of
a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if
I had been guilty of a crime. Sometimes I grew alarmed at
the wreck I perceived that I had become; the energy of my
purpose alone sustained me: my labours would soon end,
and I believed that exercise and amusement would then
drive away incipient disease; and I promised myself both of
these when my creation should be complete.
58 Frankenstein
Chapter 5
t was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the
accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost
amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life
around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the
lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the
morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and
my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of
the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the
creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion
agitated its limbs.
How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or
how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains
and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in
proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful.
Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the
work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous
black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but
these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with
his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as
the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled
complexion and straight black lips.
The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the
feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two
years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate
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body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had
desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but
now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished,
and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable
to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out
of the room and continued a long time traversing my bedchamber,
unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length
lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before endured, and
I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to
seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain; I
slept, indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I
thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking
in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced
her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they
became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared
to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead
mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I
saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I
started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my
forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed;
when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as
it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the
wretch? the miserable monster whom I had created. He
held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may
be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered
some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his
cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand
was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped
and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the courtyard be-
60 Frankenstein
longing to the house which I inhabited, where I remained
during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the
greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing
each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the
demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.
Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance.
A mummy again endued with animation could
not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while
unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and
joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing
such as even Dante could not have conceived.
I passed the night wretchedly. Sometimes my pulse beat
so quickly and hardly that I felt the palpitation of every artery;
at others, I nearly sank to the ground through languor
and extreme weakness. Mingled with this horror, I felt the
bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my
food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become
a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so
Morning, dismal and wet, at length dawned and discovered
to my sleepless and aching eyes the church of Ingolstadt,
its white steeple and clock, which indicated the sixth hour.
The porter opened the gates of the court, which had that
night been my asylum, and I issued into the streets, pacing
them with quick steps, as if I sought to avoid the wretch
whom I feared every turning of the street would present to
my view. I did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited,
but felt impelled to hurry on, although drenched by
the rain which poured from a black and comfortless sky.
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I continued walking in this manner for some time, endeavouring
by bodily exercise to ease the load that weighed
upon my mind. I traversed the streets without any clear
conception of where I was or what I was doing. My heart
palpitated in the sickness of fear, and I hurried on with irregular
steps, not daring to look about me:
Like one who, on a lonely road,
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And, having once turned round, walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.
[Coleridge?s ?Ancient Mariner.?]
Continuing thus, I came at length opposite to the inn at
which the various diligences and carriages usually stopped.
Here I paused, I knew not why; but I remained some minutes
with my eyes fixed on a coach that was coming towards
me from the other end of the street. As it drew nearer I observed
that it was the Swiss diligence; it stopped just where
I was standing, and on the door being opened, I perceived
Henry Clerval, who, on seeing me, instantly sprung out.
?My dear Frankenstein,? exclaimed he, ?how glad I am to see
you! How fortunate that you should be here at the very moment
of my alighting!?
Nothing could equal my delight on seeing Clerval; his
presence brought back to my thoughts my father, Elizabeth,
62 Frankenstein
and all those scenes of home so dear to my recollection. I
grasped his hand, and in a moment forgot my horror and
misfortune; I felt suddenly, and for the first time during
many months, calm and serene joy. I welcomed my friend,
therefore, in the most cordial manner, and we walked towards
my college. Clerval continued talking for some time
about our mutual friends and his own good fortune in being
permitted to come to Ingolstadt. ?You may easily believe,?
said he, ?how great was the difficulty to persuade my father
that all necessary knowledge was not comprised in the noble
art of bookkeeping; and, indeed, I believe I left him incredulous
to the last, for his constant answer to my unwearied
entreaties was the same as that of the Dutch schoolmaster
in *The Vicar of Wakefield*: ?I have ten thousand florins a
year without Greek, I eat heartily without Greek.? But his
affection for me at length overcame his dislike of learning,
and he has permitted me to undertake a voyage of discovery
to the land of knowledge.?
?It gives me the greatest delight to see you; but tell me
how you left my father, brothers, and Elizabeth.?
?Very well, and very happy, only a little uneasy that they
hear from you so seldom. By the by, I mean to lecture you
a little upon their account myself. But, my dear Frankenstein,?
continued he, stopping short and gazing full in my
face, ?I did not before remark how very ill you appear; so
thin and pale; you look as if you had been watching for several
?You have guessed right; I have lately been so deeply engaged
in one occupation that I have not allowed myself
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sufficient rest, as you see; but I hope, I sincerely hope, that
all these employments are now at an end and that I am at
length free.?
I trembled excessively; I could not endure to think of,
and far less to allude to, the occurrences of the preceding
night. I walked with a quick pace, and we soon arrived at
my college. I then reflected, and the thought made me shiver,
that the creature whom I had left in my apartment might
still be there, alive and walking about. I dreaded to behold
this monster, but I feared still more that Henry should see
him. Entreating him, therefore, to remain a few minutes at
the bottom of the stairs, I darted up towards my own room.
My hand was already on the lock of the door before I recollected
myself. I then paused, and a cold shivering came over
me. I threw the door forcibly open, as children are accustomed
to do when they expect a spectre to stand in waiting
for them on the other side; but nothing appeared. I stepped
fearfully in: the apartment was empty, and my bedroom
was also freed from its hideous guest. I could hardly believe
that so great a good fortune could have befallen me,
but when I became assured that my enemy had indeed fled,
I clapped my hands for joy and ran down to Clerval.
We ascended into my room, and the servant presently
brought breakfast; but I was unable to contain myself. It
was not joy only that possessed me; I felt my flesh tingle
with excess of sensitiveness, and my pulse beat rapidly. I
was unable to remain for a single instant in the same place;
I jumped over the chairs, clapped my hands, and laughed
aloud. Clerval at first attributed my unusual spirits to joy
64 Frankenstein
on his arrival, but when he observed me more attentively, he
saw a wildness in my eyes for which he could not account,
and my loud, unrestrained, heartless laughter frightened
and astonished him.
?My dear Victor,? cried he, ?what, for God?s sake, is the
matter? Do not laugh in that manner. How ill you are! What
is the cause of all this??
?Do not ask me,? cried I, putting my hands before my eyes,
for I thought I saw the dreaded spectre glide into the room;
?*he* can tell. Oh, save me! Save me!? I imagined that the
monster seized me; I struggled furiously and fell down in
a fit.
Poor Clerval! What must have been his feelings? A meeting,
which he anticipated with such joy, so strangely turned
to bitterness. But I was not the witness of his grief, for I was
lifeless and did not recover my senses for a long, long time.
This was the commencement of a nervous fever which
confined me for several months. During all that time Henry
was my only nurse. I afterwards learned that, knowing
my father?s advanced age and unfitness for so long a journey,
and how wretched my sickness would make Elizabeth,
he spared them this grief by concealing the extent of my
disorder. He knew that I could not have a more kind and attentive
nurse than himself; and, firm in the hope he felt of
my recovery, he did not doubt that, instead of doing harm,
he performed the kindest action that he could towards
But I was in reality very ill, and surely nothing but the
unbounded and unremitting attentions of my friend could
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have restored me to life. The form of the monster on whom
I had bestowed existence was forever before my eyes, and
I raved incessantly concerning him. Doubtless my words
surprised Henry; he at first believed them to be the wanderings
of my disturbed imagination, but the pertinacity with
which I continually recurred to the same subject persuaded
him that my disorder indeed owed its origin to some uncommon
and terrible event.
By very slow degrees, and with frequent relapses that
alarmed and grieved my friend, I recovered. I remember
the first time I became capable of observing outward objects
with any kind of pleasure, I perceived that the fallen
leaves had disappeared and that the young buds were shooting
forth from the trees that shaded my window. It was a
divine spring, and the season contributed greatly to my
convalescence. I felt also sentiments of joy and affection revive
in my bosom; my gloom disappeared, and in a short
time I became as cheerful as before I was attacked by the
fatal passion.
?Dearest Clerval,? exclaimed I, ?how kind, how very good
you are to me. This whole winter, instead of being spent in
study, as you promised yourself, has been consumed in my
sick room. How shall I ever repay you? I feel the greatest
remorse for the disappointment of which I have been the
occasion, but you will forgive me.?
?You will repay me entirely if you do not discompose
yourself, but get well as fast as you can; and since you appear
in such good spirits, I may speak to you on one subject,
may I not??
66 Frankenstein
I trembled. One subject! What could it be? Could he allude
to an object on whom I dared not even think?
?Compose yourself,? said Clerval, who observed my
change of colour, ?I will not mention it if it agitates you; but
your father and cousin would be very happy if they received
a letter from you in your own handwriting. They hardly
know how ill you have been and are uneasy at your long
?Is that all, my dear Henry? How could you suppose that
my first thought would not fly towards those dear, dear
friends whom I love and who are so deserving of my love??
?If this is your present temper, my friend, you will perhaps
be glad to see a letter that has been lying here some
days for you; it is from your cousin, I believe.?
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Chapter 6
Clerval then put the following letter into my hands. It
was from my own Elizabeth:
My dearest Cousin,
You have been ill, very ill, and even the constant letters
of dear kind Henry are not sufficient to reassure me on your
account. You are forbidden to write?to hold a pen; yet one
word from you, dear Victor, is necessary to calm our apprehensions.
For a long time I have thought that each post
would bring this line, and my persuasions have restrained
my uncle from undertaking a journey to Ingolstadt. I have
prevented his encountering the inconveniences and perhaps
dangers of so long a journey, yet how often have I regretted
not being able to perform it myself! I figure to myself that
the task of attending on your sickbed has devolved on some
mercenary old nurse, who could never guess your wishes
nor minister to them with the care and affection of your
poor cousin. Yet that is over now: Clerval writes that indeed
you are getting better. I eagerly hope that you will confirm
this intelligence soon in your own handwriting.
Get well?and return to us. You will find a happy, cheerful
home and friends who love you dearly. Your father?s
health is vigorous, and he asks but to see you, but to be assured
that you are well; and not a care will ever cloud his
benevolent countenance. How pleased you would be to re-
68 Frankenstein
mark the improvement of our Ernest! He is now sixteen and
full of activity and spirit. He is desirous to be a true Swiss
and to enter into foreign service, but we cannot part with
him, at least until his elder brother return to us. My uncle
is not pleased with the idea of a military career in a distant
country, but Ernest never had your powers of application.
He looks upon study as an odious fetter; his time is spent
in the open air, climbing the hills or rowing on the lake. I
fear that he will become an idler unless we yield the point
and permit him to enter on the profession which he has selected.
Little alteration, except the growth of our dear children,
has taken place since you left us. The blue lake and snowclad
mountains?they never change; and I think our placid
home and our contented hearts are regulated by the same
immutable laws. My trifling occupations take up my time
and amuse me, and I am rewarded for any exertions by seeing
none but happy, kind faces around me. Since you left
us, but one change has taken place in our little household.
Do you remember on what occasion Justine Moritz entered
our family? Probably you do not; I will relate her history,
therefore, in a few words. Madame Moritz, her mother,
was a widow with four children, of whom Justine was the
third. This girl had always been the favourite of her father,
but through a strange perversity, her mother could not endure
her, and after the death of M. Moritz, treated her very
ill. My aunt observed this, and when Justine was twelve
years of age, prevailed on her mother to allow her to live at
our house. The republican institutions of our country have
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produced simpler and happier manners than those which
prevail in the great monarchies that surround it. Hence
there is less distinction between the several classes of its inhabitants;
and the lower orders, being neither so poor nor
so despised, their manners are more refined and moral. A
servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant
in France and England. Justine, thus received in our
family, learned the duties of a servant, a condition which,
in our fortunate country, does not include the idea of ignorance
and a sacrifice of the dignity of a human being.
Justine, you may remember, was a great favourite of
yours; and I recollect you once remarked that if you were in
an ill humour, one glance from Justine could dissipate it, for
the same reason that Ariosto gives concerning the beauty
of Angelica?she looked so frank-hearted and happy. My
aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which she
was induced to give her an education superior to that which
she had at first intended. This benefit was fully repaid; Justine
was the most grateful little creature in the world: I do
not mean that she made any professions; I never heard one
pass her lips, but you could see by her eyes that she almost
adored her protectress. Although her disposition was gay
and in many respects inconsiderate, yet she paid the greatest
attention to every gesture of my aunt. She thought her
the model of all excellence and endeavoured to imitate her
phraseology and manners, so that even now she often reminds
me of her.
When my dearest aunt died every one was too much occupied
in their own grief to notice poor Justine, who had
70 Frankenstein
attended her during her illness with the most anxious affection.
Poor Justine was very ill; but other trials were reserved
for her.
One by one, her brothers and sister died; and her mother,
with the exception of her neglected daughter, was left childless.
The conscience of the woman was troubled; she began
to think that the deaths of her favourites was a judgment
from heaven to chastise her partiality. She was a Roman
Catholic; and I believe her confessor confirmed the idea
which she had conceived. Accordingly, a few months after
your departure for Ingolstadt, Justine was called home by
her repentant mother. Poor girl! She wept when she quitted
our house; she was much altered since the death of my
aunt; grief had given softness and a winning mildness to
her manners which had before been remarkable for vivacity.
Nor was her residence at her mother?s house of a nature
to restore her gaiety. The poor woman was very vacillating
in her repentance. She sometimes begged Justine to forgive
her unkindness but much oftener accused her of having
caused the deaths of her brothers and sister. Perpetual fretting
at length threw Madame Moritz into a decline, which
at first increased her irritability, but she is now at peace for
ever. She died on the first approach of cold weather, at the
beginning of this last winter. Justine has returned to us, and
I assure you I love her tenderly. She is very clever and gentle
and extremely pretty; as I mentioned before, her mien and
her expressions continually remind me of my dear aunt.
I must say also a few words to you, my dear cousin, of
little darling William. I wish you could see him; he is very
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tall of his age, with sweet laughing blue eyes, dark eyelashes,
and curling hair. When he smiles, two little dimples appear
on each cheek, which are rosy with health. He has already
had one or two little *wives*, but Louisa Biron is his favourite,
a pretty little girl of five years of age.
Now, dear Victor, I dare say you wish to be indulged in
a little gossip concerning the good people of Geneva. The
pretty Miss Mansfield has already received the congratulatory
visits on her approaching marriage with a young
Englishman, John Melbourne, Esq. Her ugly sister, Manon,
married M. Duvillard, the rich banker, last autumn. Your
favourite schoolfellow, Louis Manoir, has suffered several
misfortunes since the departure of Clerval from Geneva.
But he has already recovered his spirits, and is reported to
be on the point of marrying a very lively, pretty Frenchwoman,
Madame Tavernier. She is a widow, and much older
than Manoir, but she is very much admired and a favourite
with everybody.
I have written myself into better spirits, dear cousin; but
my anxiety returns upon me as I conclude. Write, dearest
Victor?one line?one word will be a blessing to us. Ten
thousand thanks to Henry for his kindness, his affection,
and his many letters; we are sincerely grateful. Adieu! My
cousin, take care of yourself, and, I entreat you, write!
Elizabeth Lavenza
Geneva, March 18th, 17?
?Dear, dear Elizabeth!? I exclaimed when I had read her
letter. ?I will write instantly and relieve them from the
anxiety they must feel.? I wrote, and this exertion greatly
72 Frankenstein
fatigued me; but my convalescence had commenced, and
proceeded regularly. In another fortnight I was able to leave
my chamber.
One of my first duties on my recovery was to introduce
Clerval to the several professors of the university. In doing
this, I underwent a kind of rough usage, ill befitting the
wounds that my mind had sustained. Ever since the fatal
night, the end of my labours, and the beginning of my misfortunes,
I had conceived a violent antipathy even to the
name of natural philosophy. When I was otherwise quite
restored to health, the sight of a chemical instrument would
renew all the agony of my nervous symptoms. Henry saw
this, and had removed all my apparatus from my view. He
had also changed my apartment, for he perceived that I had
acquired a dislike for the room which had previously been
my laboratory. But these cares of Clerval were made of no
avail when I visited the professors. M. Waldman inflicted
torture when he praised, with kindness and warmth, the
astonishing progress I had made in the sciences. He soon
perceived that I disliked the subject, but not guessing the
real cause, he attributed my feelings to modesty and changed
the subject from my improvement to the science itself, with
a desire, as I evidently saw, of drawing me out. What could I
do? He meant to please, and he tormented me. I felt as if he
had placed carefully, one by one, in my view those instruments
which were to be afterwards used in putting me to a
slow and cruel death. I writhed under his words yet dared
not exhibit the pain I felt. Clerval, whose eyes and feelings
were always quick in discerning the sensations of others,
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declined the subject, alleging, in excuse, his total ignorance;
and the conversation took a more general turn. I thanked
my friend from my heart, but I did not speak. I saw plainly
that he was surprised, but he never attempted to draw my
secret from me; and although I loved him with a mixture
of affection and reverence that knew no bounds, yet I could
never persuade myself to confide to him that event which
was so often present to my recollection but which I feared
the detail to another would only impress more deeply.
M. Krempe was not equally docile; and in my condition
at that time, of almost insupportable sensitiveness, his
harsh, blunt encomiums gave me even more pain than the
benevolent approbation of M. Waldman. ?D?n the fellow!?
cried he. ?Why, M. Clerval, I assure you he has outstripped
us all. Ay, stare if you please; but it is nevertheless true. A
youngster who, but a few years ago, believed in Cornelius
Agrippa as firmly as in the Gospel, has now set himself at
the head of the university; and if he is not soon pulled down,
we shall all be out of countenance. Ay, ay,? continued he, observing
my face expressive of suffering, ?M. Frankenstein is
modest, an excellent quality in a young man. Young men
should be diffident of themselves, you know, M. Clerval; I
was myself when young; but that wears out in a very short
M. Krempe had now commenced a eulogy on himself,
which happily turned the conversation from a subject that
was so annoying to me.
Clerval had never sympathized in my tastes for natural
science, and his literary pursuits differed wholly from those
74 Frankenstein
which had occupied me. He came to the university with the
design of making himself complete master of the Oriental
languages, as thus he should open a field for the plan
of life he had marked out for himself. Resolved to pursue
no inglorious career, he turned his eyes towards the East
as affording scope for his spirit of enterprise. The Persian,
Arabic, and Sanskrit languages engaged his attention, and
I was easily induced to enter on the same studies. Idleness
had ever been irksome to me, and now that I wished to fly
from reflection and hated my former studies, I felt great relief
in being the fellow pupil with my friend, and found not
only instruction but consolation in the works of the Orientalists.
I did not, like him, attempt a critical knowledge of
their dialects, for I did not contemplate making any other
use of them than temporary amusement. I read merely to
understand their meaning, and they well repaid my labours.
Their melancholy is soothing, and their joy elevating, to a
degree I never experienced in studying the authors of any
other country. When you read their writings, life appears to
consist in a warm sun and a garden of roses, in the smiles
and frowns of a fair enemy, and the fire that consumes your
own heart. How different from the manly and heroical poetry
of Greece and Rome!
Summer passed away in these occupations, and my return
to Geneva was fixed for the latter end of autumn; but
being delayed by several accidents, winter and snow arrived,
the roads were deemed impassable, and my journey was retarded
until the ensuing spring. I felt this delay very bitterly,
for I longed to see my native town and my beloved friends.
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My return had only been delayed so long from an unwillingness
to leave Clerval in a strange place before he had
become acquainted with any of its inhabitants. The winter,
however, was spent cheerfully, and although the spring was
uncommonly late, when it came its beauty compensated for
its dilatoriness.
The month of May had already commenced, and I expected
the letter daily which was to fix the date of my departure,
when Henry proposed a pedestrian tour in the environs of
Ingolstadt, that I might bid a personal farewell to the country
I had so long inhabited. I acceded with pleasure to this
proposition: I was fond of exercise, and Clerval had always
been my favourite companion in the rambles of this nature
that I had taken among the scenes of my native country.
We passed a fortnight in these perambulations; my
health and spirits had long been restored, and they gained
additional strength from the salubrious air I breathed, the
natural incidents of our progress, and the conversation of
my friend. Study had before secluded me from the intercourse
of my fellow creatures and rendered me unsocial, but
Clerval called forth the better feelings of my heart; he again
taught me to love the aspect of nature and the cheerful faces
of children. Excellent friend! How sincerely did you love
me and endeavour to elevate my mind until it was on a level
with your own! A selfish pursuit had cramped and narrowed
me until your gentleness and affection warmed and
opened my senses; I became the same happy creature who,
a few years ago, loved and beloved by all, had no sorrow or
care. When happy, inanimate nature had the power of be-
76 Frankenstein
stowing on me the most delightful sensations. A serene sky
and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy. The present season
was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed in the
hedges, while those of summer were already in bud. I was
undisturbed by thoughts which during the preceding year
had pressed upon me, notwithstanding my endeavours to
throw them off, with an invincible burden.
Henry rejoiced in my gaiety and sincerely sympathized
in my feelings; he exerted himself to amuse me, while he
expressed the sensations that filled his soul. The resources
of his mind on this occasion were truly astonishing; his
conversation was full of imagination, and very often, in imitation
of the Persian and Arabic writers, he invented tales
of wonderful fancy and passion. At other times he repeated
my favourite poems or drew me out into arguments, which
he supported with great ingenuity.
We returned to our college on a Sunday afternoon; the
peasants were dancing, and everyone we met appeared gay
and happy. My own spirits were high, and I bounded along
with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity.
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Chapter 7
On my return, I found the following letter from my
?My dear Victor,
?You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix
the date of your return to us; and I was at first tempted to
write only a few lines, merely mentioning the day on which
I should expect you. But that would be a cruel kindness, and
I dare not do it. What would be your surprise, my son, when
you expected a happy and glad welcome, to behold, on the
contrary, tears and wretchedness? And how, Victor, can I
relate our misfortune? Absence cannot have rendered you
callous to our joys and griefs; and how shall I inflict pain
on my long absent son? I wish to prepare you for the woeful
news, but I know it is impossible; even now your eye skims
over the page to seek the words which are to convey to you
the horrible tidings.
William is dead!?that sweet child, whose smiles delighted
and warmed my heart, who was so gentle, yet so gay!
Victor, he is murdered! I will not attempt to console you; but
will simply relate the circumstances of the transaction.
Last Thursday (May 7th), I, my niece, and your two
brothers, went to walk in Plainpalais. The evening was
warm and serene, and we prolonged our walk farther than
usual. It was already dusk before we thought of returning;
78 Frankenstein
and then we discovered that William and Ernest, who had
gone on before, were not to be found. We accordingly rested
on a seat until they should return. Presently Ernest came,
and enquired if we had seen his brother; he said, that he had
been playing with him, that William had run away to hide
himself, and that he vainly sought for him, and afterwards
waited for a long time, but that he did not return.
This account rather alarmed us, and we continued to
search for him until night fell, when Elizabeth conjectured
that he might have returned to the house. He was not there.
We returned again, with torches; for I could not rest, when
I thought that my sweet boy had lost himself, and was exposed
to all the damps and dews of night; Elizabeth also
suffered extreme anguish. About five in the morning I discovered
my lovely boy, whom the night before I had seen
blooming and active in health, stretched on the grass livid
and motionless; the print of the murderer?s finger was on
his neck.
He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible
in my countenance betrayed the secret to Elizabeth. She
was very earnest to see the corpse. At first I attempted to
prevent her; but she persisted, and entering the room where
it lay, hastily examined the neck of the victim, and clasping
her hands exclaimed, ?O God! I have murdered my darling
She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty.
When she again lived, it was only to weep and sigh. She told
me, that that same evening William had teased her to let
him wear a very valuable miniature that she possessed of
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your mother. This picture is gone, and was doubtless the
temptation which urged the murdered to the deed. We
have no trace of him at present, although our exertions to
discover him are unremitted; but they will not restore my
beloved William!
Come, dearest Victor; you alone can console Elizabeth.
She weeps continually, and accuses herself unjustly as the
cause of his death; her words pierce my heart. We are all
unhappy; but will not that be an additional motive for you,
my son, to return and be our comforter? Your dear mother!
Alas, Victor! I now say, Thank God she did not live to witness
the cruel, miserable death of her youngest darling!
Come, Victor; not brooding thoughts of vengeance
against the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness,
that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our
minds. Enter the house of mourning, my friend, but with
kindness and affection for those who love you, and not with
hatred for your enemies.
Your affectionate and afflicted father,
Alphonse Frankenstein.
Geneva, May 12th, 17?.
Clerval, who had watched my countenance as I read this
letter, was surprised to observe the despair that succeeded
the joy I at first expressed on receiving new from my friends.
I threw the letter on the table, and covered my face with my
?My dear Frankenstein,? exclaimed Henry, when he
perceived me weep with bitterness, ?are you always to be
unhappy? My dear friend, what has happened??
80 Frankenstein
I motioned him to take up the letter, while I walked up
and down the room in the extremest agitation. Tears also
gushed from the eyes of Clerval, as he read the account of
my misfortune.
?I can offer you no consolation, my friend,? said he; ?your
disaster is irreparable. What do you intend to do??
?To go instantly to Geneva: come with me, Henry, to order
the horses.?
During our walk, Clerval endeavoured to say a few words
of consolation; he could only express his heartfelt sympathy.
?Poor William!? said he, dear lovely child, he now sleeps with
his angel mother! Who that had seen him bright and joyous
in his young beauty, but must weep over his untimely loss!
To die so miserably; to feel the murderer?s grasp! How much
more a murderer that could destroy radiant innocence!
Poor little fellow! one only consolation have we; his friends
mourn and weep, but he is at rest. The pang is over, his sufferings
are at an end for ever. A sod covers his gentle form,
and he knows no pain. He can no longer be a subject for
pity; we must reserve that for his miserable survivors.?
Clerval spoke thus as we hurried through the streets;
the words impressed themselves on my mind and I remembered
them afterwards in solitude. But now, as soon as the
horses arrived, I hurried into a cabriolet, and bade farewell
to my friend.
My journey was very melancholy. At first I wished to hurry
on, for I longed to console and sympathise with my loved
and sorrowing friends; but when I drew near my native
town, I slackened my progress. I could hardly sustain the
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multitude of feelings that crowded into my mind. I passed
through scenes familiar to my youth, but which I had not
seen for nearly six years. How altered every thing might be
during that time! One sudden and desolating change had
taken place; but a thousand little circumstances might have
by degrees worked other alterations, which, although they
were done more tranquilly, might not be the less decisive.
Fear overcame me; I dared no advance, dreading a thousand
nameless evils that made me tremble, although I was
unable to define them.
I remained two days at Lausanne, in this painful state
of mind. I contemplated the lake: the waters were placid;
all around was calm; and the snowy mountains, ?the palaces
of nature,? were not changed. By degrees the calm and
heavenly scene restored me, and I continued my journey towards
The road ran by the side of the lake, which became narrower
as I approached my native town. I discovered more
distinctly the black sides of Jura, and the bright summit of
Mont Blanc. I wept like a child. ?Dear mountains! my own
beautiful lake! how do you welcome your wanderer? Your
summits are clear; the sky and lake are blue and placid.
Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness??
I fear, my friend, that I shall render myself tedious by
dwelling on these preliminary circumstances; but they were
days of comparative happiness, and I think of them with
pleasure. My country, my beloved country! who but a native
can tell the delight I took in again beholding thy streams,
82 Frankenstein
thy mountains, and, more than all, thy lovely lake!
Yet, as I drew nearer home, grief and fear again overcame
me. Night also closed around; and when I could hardly see
the dark mountains, I felt still more gloomily. The picture
appeared a vast and dim scene of evil, and I foresaw obscurely
that I was destined to become the most wretched of
human beings. Alas! I prophesied truly, and failed only in
one single circumstance, that in all the misery I imagined
and dreaded, I did not conceive the hundredth part of the
anguish I was destined to endure.
It was completely dark when I arrived in the environs
of Geneva; the gates of the town were already shut; and I
was obliged to pass the night at Secheron, a village at the
distance of half a league from the city. The sky was serene;
and, as I was unable to rest, I resolved to visit the spot where
my poor William had been murdered. As I could not pass
through the town, I was obliged to cross the lake in a boat
to arrive at Plainpalais. During this short voyage I saw the
lightning playing on the summit of Mont Blanc in the most
beautiful figures. The storm appeared to approach rapidly,
and, on landing, I ascended a low hill, that I might observe
its progress. It advanced; the heavens were clouded, and I
soon felt the rain coming slowly in large drops, but its violence
quickly increased.
I quitted my seat, and walked on, although the darkness
and storm increased every minute, and the thunder
burst with a terrific crash over my head. It was echoed from
Saleve, the Juras, and the Alps of Savoy; vivid flashes of
lightning dazzled my eyes, illuminating the lake, making
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it appear like a vast sheet of fire; then for an instant every
thing seemed of a pitchy darkness, until the eye recovered
itself from the preceding flash. The storm, as is often the
case in Switzerland, appeared at once in various parts of the
heavens. The most violent storm hung exactly north of the
town, over the part of the lake which lies between the promontory
of Belrive and the village of Copet. Another storm
enlightened Jura with faint flashes; and another darkened
and sometimes disclosed the Mole, a peaked mountain to
the east of the lake.
While I watched the tempest, so beautiful yet terrific, I
wandered on with a hasty step. This noble war in the sky elevated
my spirits; I clasped my hands, and exclaimed aloud,
?William, dear angel! this is thy funeral, this thy dirge!? As
I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which
stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed,
gazing intently: I could not be mistaken. A flash of lightning
illuminated the object, and discovered its shape
plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its
aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly
informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon, to
whom I had given life. What did he there? Could he be (I
shuddered at the conception) the murderer of my brother?
No sooner did that idea cross my imagination, than I became
convinced of its truth; my teeth chattered, and I was
forced to lean against a tree for support. The figure passed
me quickly, and I lost it in the gloom. Nothing in human
shape could have destroyed the fair child. He was the murderer!
I could not doubt it. The mere presence of the idea
84 Frankenstein
was an irresistible proof of the fact. I thought of pursuing
the devil; but it would have been in vain, for another flash
discovered him to me hanging among the rocks of the nearly
perpendicular ascent of Mont Saleve, a hill that bounds
Plainpalais on the south. He soon reached the summit, and
I remained motionless. The thunder ceased; but the rain
still continued, and the scene was enveloped in an impenetrable
darkness. I resolved in my minds the events which I
had until now sought to forget: the whole train of my progress
toward the creation; the appearance of the works of my
own hands at my bedside; its departure. Two years had now
nearly elapsed since the night on which he first received life;
and was this his first crime? Alas! I had turned loose into
the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage
and misery; had he not murdered my brother?
No one can conceive the anguish I suffered during the
remainder of the night, which I spent, cold and wet, in the
open air. But I did not feel the inconvenience of the weather;
my imagination was busy in scenes of evil and despair.
I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind,
and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of
horror, such as the deed which he had now done, nearly in
the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from
the grave, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me.
Day dawned; and I directed my steps towards the town.
The gates were open, and I hastened to my father?s house.
My first thought was to discover what I knew of the murderer,
and cause instant pursuit to be made. But I paused when
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I reflected on the story that I had to tell. A being whom I
myself had formed, and endued with life, had met me at
midnight among the precipices of an inaccessible mountain.
I remembered also the nervous fever with which I had been
seized just at the time that I dated my creation, and which
would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise so utterly
improbable. I well knew that if any other had communicated
such a relation to me, I should have looked upon it as the
ravings of insanity. Besides, the strange nature of the animal
would elude all pursuit, even if I were so far credited as
to persuade my relatives to commence it. And then of what
use would be pursuit? Who could arrest a creature capable
of scaling the overhanging sides of Mont Saleve? These reflections
determined me, and I resolved to remain silent.
It was about five in the morning when I entered my father?s
house. I told the servants not to disturb the family,
and went into the library to attend their usual hour of rising.
Six years had elapsed, passed in a dream but for one indelible
trace, and I stood in the same place where I had last
embraced my father before my departure for Ingolstadt. Beloved
and venerable parent! He still remained to me. I gazed
on the picture of my mother, which stood over the mantel-piece.
It was an historical subject, painted at my father?s
desire, and represented Caroline Beaufort in an agony of
despair, kneeling by the coffin of her dead father. Her garb
was rustic, and her cheek pale; but there was an air of dignity
and beauty, that hardly permitted the sentiment of
pity. Below this picture was a miniature of William; and
86 Frankenstein
my tears flowed when I looked upon it. While I was thus
engaged, Ernest entered: he had heard me arrive, and hastened
to welcome me: ?Welcome, my dearest Victor,? said he.
?Ah! I wish you had come three months ago, and then you
would have found us all joyous and delighted. You come
to us now to share a misery which nothing can alleviate;
yet your presence will, I hope, revive our father, who seems
sinking under his misfortune; and your persuasions will
induce poor Elizabeth to cease her vain and tormenting
self-accusations.?Poor William! he was our darling and
our pride!?
Tears, unrestrained, fell from my brother?s eyes; a sense
of mortal agony crept over my frame. Before, I had only
imagined the wretchedness of my desolated home; the reality
came on me as a new, and a not less terrible, disaster. I
tried to calm Ernest; I enquired more minutely concerning
my father, and her I named my cousin.
?She most of all,? said Ernest, ?requires consolation; she
accused herself of having caused the death of my brother,
and that made her very wretched. But since the murderer
has been discovered??
?The murderer discovered! Good God! how can that be?
who could attempt to pursue him? It is impossible; one
might as well try to overtake the winds, or confine a mountain-stream
with a straw. I saw him too; he was free last
?I do not know what you mean,? replied my brother, in
accents of wonder, ?but to us the discovery we have made
completes our misery. No one would believe it at first; and
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even now Elizabeth will not be convinced, notwithstanding
all the evidence. Indeed, who would credit that Justine
Moritz, who was so amiable, and fond of all the family,
could suddenly become so capable of so frightful, so appalling
a crime??
?Justine Moritz! Poor, poor girl, is she the accused? But
it is wrongfully; every one knows that; no one believes it,
surely, Ernest??
?No one did at first; but several circumstances came out,
that have almost forced conviction upon us; and her own
behaviour has been so confused, as to add to the evidence of
facts a weight that, I fear, leaves no hope for doubt. But she
will be tried to-day, and you will then hear all.?
He then related that, the morning on which the murder
of poor William had been discovered, Justine had been
taken ill, and confined to her bed for several days. During
this interval, one of the servants, happening to examine the
apparel she had worn on the night of the murder, had discovered
in her pocket the picture of my mother, which had
been judged to be the temptation of the murderer. The servant
instantly showed it to one of the others, who, without
saying a word to any of the family, went to a magistrate; and,
upon their deposition, Justine was apprehended. On being
charged with the fact, the poor girl confirmed the suspicion
in a great measure by her extreme confusion of manner.
This was a strange tale, but it did not shake my faith; and
I replied earnestly, ?You are all mistaken; I know the murderer.
Justine, poor, good Justine, is innocent.?
At that instant my father entered. I saw unhappiness
88 Frankenstein
deeply impressed on his countenance, but he endeavoured
to welcome me cheerfully; and, after we had exchanged
our mournful greeting, would have introduced some other
topic than that of our disaster, had not Ernest exclaimed,
?Good God, papa! Victor says that he knows who was the
murderer of poor William.?
?We do also, unfortunately,? replied my father, ?for indeed
I had rather have been for ever ignorant than have discovered
so much depravity and ungratitude in one I valued so
?My dear father, you are mistaken; Justine is innocent.?
?If she is, God forbid that she should suffer as guilty. She
is to be tried to-day, and I hope, I sincerely hope, that she
will be acquitted.?
This speech calmed me. I was firmly convinced in my
own mind that Justine, and indeed every human being, was
guiltless of this murder. I had no fear, therefore, that any
circumstantial evidence could be brought forward strong
enough to convict her. My tale was not one to announce
publicly; its astounding horror would be looked upon as
madness by the vulgar. Did any one indeed exist, except I,
the creator, who would believe, unless his senses convinced
him, in the existence of the living monument of presumption
and rash ignorance which I had let loose upon the
We were soon joined by Elizabeth. Time had altered her
since I last beheld her; it had endowed her with loveliness
surpassing the beauty of her childish years. There was the
same candour, the same vivacity, but it was allied to an ex-
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pression more full of sensibility and intellect. She welcomed
me with the greatest affection. ?Your arrival, my dear cousin,?
said she, ?fills me with hope. You perhaps will find some
means to justify my poor guiltless Justine. Alas! who is safe,
if she be convicted of crime? I rely on her innocence as certainly
as I do upon my own. Our misfortune is doubly hard
to us; we have not only lost that lovely darling boy, but this
poor girl, whom I sincerely love, is to be torn away by even a
worse fate. If she is condemned, I never shall know joy more.
But she will not, I am sure she will not; and then I shall be
happy again, even after the sad death of my little William.?
?She is innocent, my Elizabeth,? said I, ?and that shall be
proved; fear nothing, but let your spirits be cheered by the
assurance of her acquittal.?
?How kind and generous you are! every one else believes
in her guilt, and that made me wretched, for I knew that
it was impossible: and to see every one else prejudiced in
so deadly a manner rendered me hopeless and despairing.?
She wept.
?Dearest niece,? said my father, ?dry your tears. If she is,
as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws, and
the activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow
of partiality.?
90 Frankenstein
Chapter 8
We passed a few sad hours until eleven o?clock, when
the trial was to commence. My father and the rest of
the family being obliged to attend as witnesses, I accompanied
them to the court. During the whole of this wretched
mockery of justice I suffered living torture. It was to be decided
whether the result of my curiosity and lawless devices
would cause the death of two of my fellow beings: one a
smiling babe full of innocence and joy, the other far more
dreadfully murdered, with every aggravation of infamy
that could make the murder memorable in horror. Justine
also was a girl of merit and possessed qualities which promised
to render her life happy; now all was to be obliterated
in an ignominious grave, and I the cause! A thousand times
rather would I have confessed myself guilty of the crime ascribed
to Justine, but I was absent when it was committed,
and such a declaration would have been considered as the
ravings of a madman and would not have exculpated her
who suffered through me.
The appearance of Justine was calm. She was dressed
in mourning, and her countenance, always engaging, was
rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful.
Yet she appeared confident in innocence and did not
tremble, although gazed on and execrated by thousands, for
all the kindness which her beauty might otherwise have
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excited was obliterated in the minds of the spectators by
the imagination of the enormity she was supposed to have
committed. She was tranquil, yet her tranquillity was evidently
constrained; and as her confusion had before been
adduced as a proof of her guilt, she worked up her mind to
an appearance of courage. When she entered the court she
threw her eyes round it and quickly discovered where we
were seated. A tear seemed to dim her eye when she saw us,
but she quickly recovered herself, and a look of sorrowful
affection seemed to attest her utter guiltlessness.
The trial began, and after the advocate against her had
stated the charge, several witnesses were called. Several
strange facts combined against her, which might have staggered
anyone who had not such proof of her innocence as
I had. She had been out the whole of the night on which
the murder had been committed and towards morning had
been perceived by a market-woman not far from the spot
where the body of the murdered child had been afterwards
found. The woman asked her what she did there, but she
looked very strangely and only returned a confused and
unintelligible answer. She returned to the house about eight
o?clock, and when one inquired where she had passed the
night, she replied that she had been looking for the child
and demanded earnestly if anything had been heard concerning
him. When shown the body, she fell into violent
hysterics and kept her bed for several days. The picture was
then produced which the servant had found in her pocket;
and when Elizabeth, in a faltering voice, proved that it was
the same which, an hour before the child had been missed,
92 Frankenstein
she had placed round his neck, a murmur of horror and indignation
filled the court.
Justine was called on for her defence. As the trial had
proceeded, her countenance had altered. Surprise, horror,
and misery were strongly expressed. Sometimes she struggled
with her tears, but when she was desired to plead, she
collected her powers and spoke in an audible although variable
?God knows,? she said, ?how entirely I am innocent. But
I do not pretend that my protestations should acquit me; I
rest my innocence on a plain and simple explanation of the
facts which have been adduced against me, and I hope the
character I have always borne will incline my judges to a
favourable interpretation where any circumstance appears
doubtful or suspicious.?
She then related that, by the permission of Elizabeth, she
had passed the evening of the night on which the murder
had been committed at the house of an aunt at Chene, a
village situated at about a league from Geneva. On her return,
at about nine o?clock, she met a man who asked her if
she had seen anything of the child who was lost. She was
alarmed by this account and passed several hours in looking
for him, when the gates of Geneva were shut, and she
was forced to remain several hours of the night in a barn
belonging to a cottage, being unwilling to call up the inhabitants,
to whom she was well known. Most of the night she
spent here watching; towards morning she believed that she
slept for a few minutes; some steps disturbed her, and she
awoke. It was dawn, and she quitted her asylum, that she
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might again endeavour to find my brother. If she had gone
near the spot where his body lay, it was without her knowledge.
That she had been bewildered when questioned by the
market-woman was not surprising, since she had passed a
sleepless night and the fate of poor William was yet uncertain.
Concerning the picture she could give no account.
?I know,? continued the unhappy victim, ?how heavily
and fatally this one circumstance weighs against me, but I
have no power of explaining it; and when I have expressed
my utter ignorance, I am only left to conjecture concerning
the probabilities by which it might have been placed in
my pocket. But here also I am checked. I believe that I have
no enemy on earth, and none surely would have been so
wicked as to destroy me wantonly. Did the murderer place
it there? I know of no opportunity afforded him for so doing;
or, if I had, why should he have stolen the jewel, to part
with it again so soon?
?I commit my cause to the justice of my judges, yet I
see no room for hope. I beg permission to have a few witnesses
examined concerning my character, and if their
testimony shall not overweigh my supposed guilt, I must
be condemned, although I would pledge my salvation on
my innocence.?
Several witnesses were called who had known her for
many years, and they spoke well of her; but fear and hatred
of the crime of which they supposed her guilty rendered
them timorous and unwilling to come forward. Elizabeth
saw even this last resource, her excellent dispositions and
irreproachable conduct, about to fail the accused, when,
94 Frankenstein
although violently agitated, she desired permission to address
the court.
?I am,? said she, ?the cousin of the unhappy child who was
murdered, or rather his sister, for I was educated by and
have lived with his parents ever since and even long before
his birth. It may therefore be judged indecent in me to come
forward on this occasion, but when I see a fellow creature
about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended
friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what
I know of her character. I am well acquainted with the accused.
I have lived in the same house with her, at one time
for five and at another for nearly two years. During all that
period she appeared to me the most amiable and benevolent
of human creatures. She nursed Madame Frankenstein, my
aunt, in her last illness, with the greatest affection and care
and afterwards attended her own mother during a tedious
illness, in a manner that excited the admiration of all who
knew her, after which she again lived in my uncle?s house,
where she was beloved by all the family. She was warmly
attached to the child who is now dead and acted towards
him like a most affectionate mother. For my own part, I do
not hesitate to say that, notwithstanding all the evidence
produced against her, I believe and rely on her perfect innocence.
She had no temptation for such an action; as to the
bauble on which the chief proof rests, if she had earnestly
desired it, I should have willingly given it to her, so much
do I esteem and value her.?
A murmur of approbation followed Elizabeth?s simple
and powerful appeal, but it was excited by her generous
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interference, and not in favour of poor Justine, on whom
the public indignation was turned with renewed violence,
charging her with the blackest ingratitude. She herself wept
as Elizabeth spoke, but she did not answer. My own agitation
and anguish was extreme during the whole trial. I
believed in her innocence; I knew it. Could the demon who
had (I did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother
also in his hellish sport have betrayed the innocent to death
and ignominy? I could not sustain the horror of my situation,
and when I perceived that the popular voice and the
countenances of the judges had already condemned my
unhappy victim, I rushed out of the court in agony. The tortures
of the accused did not equal mine; she was sustained
by innocence, but the fangs of remorse tore my bosom and
would not forgo their hold.
I passed a night of unmingled wretchedness. In the morning
I went to the court; my lips and throat were parched. I
dared not ask the fatal question, but I was known, and the
officer guessed the cause of my visit. The ballots had been
thrown; they were all black, and Justine was condemned.
I cannot pretend to describe what I then felt. I had before
experienced sensations of horror, and I have endeavoured
to bestow upon them adequate expressions, but words cannot
convey an idea of the heart-sickening despair that I then
endured. The person to whom I addressed myself added
that Justine had already confessed her guilt. ?That evidence,?
he observed, ?was hardly required in so glaring a case, but
I am glad of it, and, indeed, none of our judges like to condemn
a criminal upon circumstantial evidence, be it ever
96 Frankenstein
so decisive.?
This was strange and unexpected intelligence; what
could it mean? Had my eyes deceived me? And was I really
as mad as the whole world would believe me to be if I
disclosed the object of my suspicions? I hastened to return
home, and Elizabeth eagerly demanded the result.
?My cousin,? replied I, ?it is decided as you may have expected;
all judges had rather that ten innocent should suffer
than that one guilty should escape. But she has confessed.?
This was a dire blow to poor Elizabeth, who had relied
with firmness upon Justine?s innocence. ?Alas!? said she.
?How shall I ever again believe in human goodness? Justine,
whom I loved and esteemed as my sister, how could she put
on those smiles of innocence only to betray? Her mild eyes
seemed incapable of any severity or guile, and yet she has
committed a murder.?
Soon after we heard that the poor victim had expressed a
desire to see my cousin. My father wished her not to go but
said that he left it to her own judgment and feelings to decide.
?Yes,? said Elizabeth, ?I will go, although she is guilty;
and you, Victor, shall accompany me; I cannot go alone.?
The idea of this visit was torture to me, yet I could not refuse.
We entered the gloomy prison chamber and beheld Justine
sitting on some straw at the farther end; her hands were
manacled, and her head rested on her knees. She rose on
seeing us enter; and when we were left alone with her, she
threw herself at the feet of Elizabeth, weeping bitterly. My
cousin wept also.
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?Oh, Justine!? said she. ?Why did you rob me of my last
consolation? I relied on your innocence, and although I was
then very wretched, I was not so miserable as I am now.?
?And do you also believe that I am so very, very wicked?
Do you also join with my enemies to crush me, to condemn
me as a murderer?? Her voice was suffocated with sobs.
?Rise, my poor girl,? said Elizabeth; ?why do you kneel, if
you are innocent? I am not one of your enemies, I believed
you guiltless, notwithstanding every evidence, until I heard
that you had yourself declared your guilt. That report, you
say, is false; and be assured, dear Justine, that nothing can
shake my confidence in you for a moment, but your own
?I did confess, but I confessed a lie. I confessed, that I
might obtain absolution; but now that falsehood lies heavier
at my heart than all my other sins. The God of heaven
forgive me! Ever since I was condemned, my confessor has
besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I almost began
to think that I was the monster that he said I was. He
threatened excommunication and hell fire in my last moments
if I continued obdurate. Dear lady, I had none to
support me; all looked on me as a wretch doomed to ignominy
and perdition. What could I do? In an evil hour I
subscribed to a lie; and now only am I truly miserable.?
She paused, weeping, and then continued, ?I thought
with horror, my sweet lady, that you should believe your
Justine, whom your blessed aunt had so highly honoured,
and whom you loved, was a creature capable of a crime
which none but the devil himself could have perpetrated.
98 Frankenstein
Dear William! dearest blessed child! I soon shall see you
again in heaven, where we shall all he happy; and that consoles
me, going as I am to suffer ignominy and death.?
?Oh, Justine! Forgive me for having for one moment distrusted
you. Why did you confess? But do not mourn, dear
girl. Do not fear. I will proclaim, I will prove your innocence.
I will melt the stony hearts of your enemies by my
tears and prayers. You shall not die! You, my playfellow, my
companion, my sister, perish on the scaffold! No! No! I never
could survive so horrible a misfortune.?
Justine shook her head mournfully. ?I do not fear to die,?
she said; ?that pang is past. God raises my weakness and
gives me courage to endure the worst. I leave a sad and bitter
world; and if you remember me and think of me as of
one unjustly condemned, I am resigned to the fate awaiting
me. Learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the
will of heaven!?
During this conversation I had retired to a corner of the
prison room, where I could conceal the horrid anguish that
possessed me. Despair! Who dared talk of that? The poor
victim, who on the morrow was to pass the awful boundary
between life and death, felt not, as I did, such deep and
bitter agony. I gnashed my teeth and ground them together,
uttering a groan that came from my inmost soul. Justine
started. When she saw who it was, she approached me and
said, ?Dear sir, you are very kind to visit me; you, I hope, do
not believe that I am guilty??
I could not answer. ?No, Justine,? said Elizabeth; ?he is
more convinced of your innocence than I was, for even
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when he heard that you had confessed, he did not credit it.?
?I truly thank him. In these last moments I feel the sincerest
gratitude towards those who think of me with kindness.
How sweet is the affection of others to such a wretch as I
am! It removes more than half my misfortune, and I feel as
if I could die in peace now that my innocence is acknowledged
by you, dear lady, and your cousin.?
Thus the poor sufferer tried to comfort others and herself.
She indeed gained the resignation she desired. But I,
the true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my
bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation. Elizabeth
also wept and was unhappy, but hers also was the misery
of innocence, which, like a cloud that passes over the
fair moon, for a while hides but cannot tarnish its brightness.
Anguish and despair had penetrated into the core of
my heart; I bore a hell within me which nothing could extinguish.
We stayed several hours with Justine, and it was
with great difficulty that Elizabeth could tear herself away.
?I wish,? cried she, ?that I were to die with you; I cannot live
in this world of misery.?
Justine assumed an air of cheerfulness, while she with
difficulty repressed her bitter tears. She embraced Elizabeth
and said in a voice of half-suppressed emotion, ?Farewell,
sweet lady, dearest Elizabeth, my beloved and only friend;
may heaven, in its bounty, bless and preserve you; may this
be the last misfortune that you will ever suffer! Live, and be
happy, and make others so.?
And on the morrow Justine died. Elizabeth?s heart-rending
eloquence failed to move the judges from their settled
100 Frankenstein
conviction in the criminality of the saintly sufferer. My passionate
and indignant appeals were lost upon them. And
when I received their cold answers and heard the harsh, unfeeling
reasoning of these men, my purposed avowal died
away on my lips. Thus I might proclaim myself a madman,
but not revoke the sentence passed upon my wretched victim.
She perished on the scaffold as a murderess!
From the tortures of my own heart, I turned to contemplate
the deep and voiceless grief of my Elizabeth. This also
was my doing! And my father?s woe, and the desolation of
that late so smiling home all was the work of my thrice-accursed
hands! Ye weep, unhappy ones, but these are not
your last tears! Again shall you raise the funeral wail, and
the sound of your lamentations shall again and again be
heard! Frankenstein, your son, your kinsman, your early,
much-loved friend; he who would spend each vital drop
of blood for your sakes, who has no thought nor sense of
joy except as it is mirrored also in your dear countenances,
who would fill the air with blessings and spend his life
in serving you? he bids you weep, to shed countless tears;
happy beyond his hopes, if thus inexorable fate be satisfied,
and if the destruction pause before the peace of the grave
have succeeded to your sad torments!
Thus spoke my prophetic soul, as, torn by remorse, horror,
and despair, I beheld those I loved spend vain sorrow
upon the graves of William and Justine, the first hapless
victims to my unhallowed arts.
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Chapter 9
Nothing is more painful to the human mind than, after
the feelings have been worked up by a quick succession
of events, the dead calmness of inaction and certainty which
follows and deprives the soul both of hope and fear. Justine
died, she rested, and I was alive. The blood flowed freely
in my veins, but a weight of despair and remorse pressed
on my heart which nothing could remove. Sleep fled from
my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had committed
deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more,
much more (I persuaded myself) was yet behind. Yet my
heart overflowed with kindness and the love of virtue. I had
begun life with benevolent intentions and thirsted for the
moment when I should put them in practice and make myself
useful to my fellow beings. Now all was blasted; instead
of that serenity of conscience which allowed me to look
back upon the past with self-satisfaction, and from thence
to gather promise of new hopes, I 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.
This state of mind preyed upon my health, which had
perhaps never entirely recovered from the first shock it had
sustained. I shunned the face of man; all sound of joy or
complacency was torture to me; solitude was my only consolation?deep,
dark, deathlike solitude.
102 Frankenstein
My father observed with pain the alteration perceptible
in my disposition and habits and endeavoured by arguments
deduced from the feelings of his serene conscience
and guiltless life to inspire me with fortitude and awaken in
me the courage to dispel the dark cloud which brooded over
me. ?Do you think, Victor,? said he, ?that I do not suffer also?
No one could love a child more than I loved your brother??
tears came into his eyes as he spoke? ?but is it not a duty to
the survivors that we should refrain from augmenting their
unhappiness by an appearance of immoderate grief? It is
also a duty owed to yourself, for excessive sorrow prevents
improvement or enjoyment, or even the discharge of daily
usefulness, without which no man is fit for society.?
This advice, although good, was totally inapplicable to
my case; I should have been the first to hide my grief and
console my friends if remorse had not mingled its bitterness,
and terror its alarm, with my other sensations. Now I
could only answer my father with a look of despair and endeavour
to hide myself from his view.
About this time we retired to our house at Belrive. This
change was particularly agreeable to me. The shutting of
the gates regularly at ten o?clock and the impossibility of
remaining on the lake after that hour had rendered our residence
within the walls of Geneva very irksome to me. I was
now free. Often, after the rest of the family had retired for
the night, I took the boat and passed many hours upon the
water. Sometimes, with my sails set, I was carried by the
wind; and sometimes, after rowing into the middle of the
lake, I left the boat to pursue its own course and gave way to
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my own miserable reflections. I was often tempted, when all
was at peace around me, and I the only unquiet thing that
wandered restless in a scene so beautiful and heavenly?if I
except some bat, or the frogs, whose harsh and interrupted
croaking was heard only when I approached the shore?often,
I say, I was tempted to plunge into the silent lake, that
the waters might close over me and my calamities forever.
But I was restrained, when I thought of the heroic and
suffering Elizabeth, whom I tenderly loved, and whose existence
was bound up in mine. I thought also of my father
and surviving brother; should I by my base desertion leave
them exposed and unprotected to the malice of the fiend
whom I had let loose among them?
At these moments I wept bitterly and wished that peace
would revisit my mind only that I might afford them consolation
and happiness. But that could not be. Remorse
extinguished every hope. I had been the author of unalterable
evils, and I lived in daily fear lest the monster whom I
had created should perpetrate some new wickedness. I had
an obscure feeling that all was not over and that he would
still commit some signal crime, which by its enormity
should almost efface the recollection of the past. There was
always scope for fear so long as anything I loved remained
behind. My abhorrence of this fiend cannot be conceived.
When I thought of him I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became
inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that
life which I had so thoughtlessly bestowed. When I reflected
on his crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst
all bounds of moderation. I would have made a pilgrimage
104 Frankenstein
to the highest peak of the Andes, could I when there have
precipitated him to their base. I wished to see him again,
that I might wreak the utmost extent of abhorrence on his
head and avenge the deaths of William and Justine. Our
house was the house of mourning. My father?s health was
deeply shaken by the horror of the recent events. Elizabeth
was sad and desponding; she no longer took delight in her
ordinary occupations; all pleasure seemed to her sacrilege
toward the dead; eternal woe and tears she then thought
was the just tribute she should pay to innocence so blasted
and destroyed. She was no longer that happy creature who
in earlier youth wandered with me on the banks of the lake
and talked with ecstasy of our future prospects. The first of
those sorrows which are sent to wean us from the earth had
visited her, and its dimming influence quenched her dearest
?When I reflect, my dear cousin,? said she, ?on the miserable
death of Justine Moritz, I no longer see the world and
its works as they before appeared to me. Before, I looked
upon the accounts of vice and injustice that I read in books
or heard from others as tales of ancient days or imaginary
evils; at least they were remote and more familiar to reason
than to the imagination; but now misery has come home,
and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other?s
blood. Yet I am certainly unjust. Everybody believed
that poor girl to be guilty; and if she could have committed
the crime for which she suffered, assuredly she would have
been the most depraved of human creatures. For the sake
of a few jewels, to have murdered the son of her benefac-
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tor and friend, a child whom she had nursed from its birth,
and appeared to love as if it had been her own! I could not
consent to the death of any human being, but certainly I
should have thought such a creature unfit to remain in the
society of men. But she was innocent. I know, I feel she was
innocent; you are of the same opinion, and that confirms
me. Alas! Victor, when falsehood can look so like the truth,
who can assure themselves of certain happiness? I feel as if
I were walking on the edge of a precipice, towards which
thousands are crowding and endeavouring to plunge me
into the abyss. William and Justine were assassinated, and
the murderer escapes; he walks about the world free, and
perhaps respected. But even if I were condemned to suffer
on the scaffold for the same crimes, I would not change
places with such a wretch.?
I listened to this discourse with the extremest agony. I,
not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer. Elizabeth
read my anguish in my countenance, and kindly taking
my hand, said, ?My dearest friend, you must calm yourself.
These events have affected me, God knows how deeply; but
I am not so wretched as you are. There is an expression of
despair, and sometimes of revenge, in your countenance
that makes me tremble. Dear Victor, banish these dark passions.
Remember the friends around you, who centre all
their hopes in you. Have we lost the power of rendering you
happy? Ah! While we love, while we are true to each other,
here in this land of peace and beauty, your native country,
we may reap every tranquil blessing? what can disturb our
106 Frankenstein
And could not such words from her whom I fondly prized
before every other gift of fortune suffice to chase away the
fiend that lurked in my heart? Even as she spoke I drew near
to her, as if in terror, lest at that very moment the destroyer
had been near to rob me of her.
Thus not the tenderness of friendship, nor the beauty of
earth, nor of heaven, could redeem my soul from woe; the
very accents of love were ineffectual. I was encompassed by
a cloud which no beneficial influence could penetrate. The
wounded deer dragging its fainting limbs to some untrodden
brake, there to gaze upon the arrow which had pierced
it, and to die, was but a type of me.
Sometimes I could cope with the sullen despair that
overwhelmed me, but sometimes the whirlwind passions of
my soul drove me to seek, by bodily exercise and by change
of place, some relief from my intolerable sensations. It was
during an access of this kind that I suddenly left my home,
and bending my steps towards the near Alpine valleys,
sought in the magnificence, the eternity of such scenes, to
forget myself and my ephemeral, because human, sorrows.
My wanderings were directed towards the valley of Chamounix.
I had visited it frequently during my boyhood. Six
years had passed since then: I was a wreck, but nought had
changed in those savage and enduring scenes.
I performed the first part of my journey on horseback. I
afterwards hired a mule, as the more sure-footed and least
liable to receive injury on these rugged roads. The weather
was fine; it was about the middle of the month of August,
nearly two months after the death of Justine, that miserable
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epoch from which I dated all my woe. The weight upon my
spirit was sensibly lightened as I plunged yet deeper in the
ravine of Arve. The immense mountains and precipices that
overhung me on every side, the sound of the river raging
among the rocks, and the dashing of the waterfalls around
spoke of a power mighty as Omnipotence?and I ceased
to fear or to bend before any being less almighty than that
which had created and ruled the elements, here displayed in
their most terrific guise. Still, as I ascended higher, the valley
assumed a more magnificent and astonishing character.
Ruined castles hanging on the precipices of piny mountains,
the impetuous Arve, and cottages every here and there
peeping forth from among the trees formed a scene of singular
beauty. But it was augmented and rendered sublime
by the mighty Alps, whose white and shining pyramids and
domes towered above all, as belonging to another earth, the
habitations of another race of beings.
I passed the bridge of Pelissier, where the ravine, which
the river forms, opened before me, and I began to ascend
the mountain that overhangs it. Soon after, I entered the
valley of Chamounix. This valley is more wonderful and
sublime, but not so beautiful and picturesque as that of
Servox, through which I had just passed. The high and
snowy mountains were its immediate boundaries, but I
saw no more ruined castles and fertile fields. Immense glaciers
approached the road; I heard the rumbling thunder
of the falling avalanche and marked the smoke of its passage.
Mont Blanc, the supreme and magnificent Mont Blanc,
raised itself from the surrounding aiguilles, and its tremen-
108 Frankenstein
dous dome overlooked the valley.
A tingling long-lost sense of pleasure often came across
me during this journey. Some turn in the road, some new
object suddenly perceived and recognized, reminded me
of days gone by, and were associated with the lighthearted
gaiety of boyhood. The very winds whispered in soothing
accents, and maternal Nature bade me weep no more. Then
again the kindly influence ceased to act? I found myself
fettered again to grief and indulging in all the misery of
reflection. Then I spurred on my animal, striving so to forget
the world, my fears, and more than all, myself?or, in a
more desperate fashion, I alighted and threw myself on the
grass, weighed down by horror and despair.
At length I arrived at the village of Chamounix. Exhaustion
succeeded to the extreme fatigue both of body and of
mind which I had endured. For a short space of time I remained
at the window watching the pallid lightnings that
played above Mont Blanc and listening to the rushing of
the Arve, which pursued its noisy way beneath. The same
lulling sounds acted as a lullaby to my too keen sensations;
when I placed my head upon my pillow, sleep crept over me;
I felt it as it came and blessed the giver of oblivion.
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Chapter 10
I spent the following day roaming through the valley. I
stood beside the sources of the Arveiron, which take
their rise in a glacier, that with slow pace is advancing
down from the summit of the hills to barricade the valley.
The abrupt sides of vast mountains were before me; the icy
wall of the glacier overhung me; a few shattered pines were
scattered around; and the solemn silence of this glorious
presence-chamber of imperial nature was broken only by
the brawling waves or the fall of some vast fragment, the
thunder sound of the avalanche or the cracking, reverberated
along the mountains, of the accumulated ice, which,
through the silent working of immutable laws, was ever
and anon rent and torn, as if it had been but a plaything in
their hands. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded
me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving.
They elevated me from all littleness of feeling, and although
they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillized
it. In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from
the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month.
I retired to rest at night; my slumbers, as it were, waited
on and ministered to by the assemblance of grand shapes
which I had contemplated during the day. They congregated
round me; the unstained snowy mountaintop, the glittering
pinnacle, the pine woods, and ragged bare ravine, the
110 Frankenstein
eagle, soaring amidst the clouds? they all gathered round
me and bade me be at peace.
Where had they fled when the next morning I awoke?
All of soul- inspiriting fled with sleep, and dark melancholy
clouded every thought. The rain was pouring in torrents,
and thick mists hid the summits of the mountains, so that I
even saw not the faces of those mighty friends. Still I would
penetrate their misty veil and seek them in their cloudy
retreats. What were rain and storm to me? My mule was
brought to the door, and I resolved to ascend to the summit
of Montanvert. I remembered the effect that the view
of the tremendous and ever-moving glacier had produced
upon my mind when I first saw it. It had then filled me with
a sublime ecstasy that gave wings to the soul and allowed it
to soar from the obscure world to light and joy. The sight of
the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect
of solemnizing my mind and causing me to forget the
passing cares of life. I determined to go without a guide, for
I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence of another
would destroy the solitary grandeur of the scene.
The ascent is precipitous, but the path is cut into continual
and short windings, which enable you to surmount the
perpendicularity of the mountain. It is a scene terrifically
desolate. In a thousand spots the traces of the winter avalanche
may be perceived, where trees lie broken and strewed
on the ground, some entirely destroyed, others bent, leaning
upon the jutting rocks of the mountain or transversely
upon other trees. The path, as you ascend nigher, is intersected
by ravines of snow, down which stones continually
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roll from above; one of them is particularly dangerous, as
the slightest sound, such as even speaking in a loud voice,
produces a concussion of air sufficient to draw destruction
upon the head of the speaker. The pines are not tall or luxuriant,
but they are sombre and add an air of severity to the
scene. I looked on the valley beneath; vast mists were rising
from the rivers which ran through it and curling in thick
wreaths around the opposite mountains, whose summits
were hid in the uniform clouds, while rain poured from the
dark sky and added to the melancholy impression I received
from the objects around me. Alas! Why does man boast of
sensibilities superior to those apparent in the brute; it only
renders them more necessary beings. If our impulses were
confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly
free; but now we are moved by every wind that blows and a
chance word or scene that that word may convey to us.
We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.
We rise; one wand?ring thought pollutes the day.
We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep,
Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;
It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow,
The path of its departure still is free.
Man?s yesterday may ne?er be like his morrow;
Nought may endure but mutability!
It was nearly noon when I arrived at the top of the ascent.
For some time I sat upon the rock that overlooks the
sea of ice. A mist covered both that and the surrounding
112 Frankenstein
mountains. Presently a breeze dissipated the cloud, and I
descended upon the glacier. The surface is very uneven, rising
like the waves of a troubled sea, descending low, and
interspersed by rifts that sink deep. The field of ice is almost
a league in width, but I spent nearly two hours in crossing
it. The opposite mountain is a bare perpendicular rock.
From the side where I now stood Montanvert was exactly
opposite, at the distance of a league; and above it rose Mont
Blanc, in awful majesty. I remained in a recess of the rock,
gazing on this wonderful and stupendous scene. The sea,
or rather the vast river of ice, wound among its dependent
mountains, whose aerial summits hung over its recesses.
Their icy and glittering peaks shone in the sunlight over the
clouds. My heart, which was before sorrowful, now swelled
with something like joy; I exclaimed, ?Wandering spirits, if
indeed ye wander, and do not rest in your narrow beds, allow
me this faint happiness, or take me, as your companion,
away from the joys of life.?
As I said this I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some
distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed.
He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had
walked with caution; his stature, also, as he approached,
seemed to exceed that of man. I was troubled; a mist came
over my eyes, and I felt a faintness seize me, but I was quickly
restored by the cold gale of the mountains. I perceived,
as the shape came nearer (sight tremendous and abhorred!)
that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trembled with
rage and horror, resolving to wait his approach and then
close with him in mortal combat. He approached; his coun-
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tenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and
malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost
too horrible for human eyes. But I scarcely observed this;
rage and hatred had at first deprived me of utterance, and I
recovered only to overwhelm him with words expressive of
furious detestation and contempt.
?Devil,? I exclaimed, ?do you dare approach me? And do
not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on
your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! Or rather, stay,
that I may trample you to dust! And, oh! That I could, with
the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those
victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!?
?I expected this reception,? said the daemon. ?All men
hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable
beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest
and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by
ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You
purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do
your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and
the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions,
I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will
glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of
your remaining friends.?
?Abhorred monster! Fiend that thou art! The tortures
of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched
devil! You reproach me with your creation, come on, then,
that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed.?
My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled
114 Frankenstein
by all the feelings which can arm one being against the existence
of another.
He easily eluded me and said?
?Be calm! I entreat you to hear me before you give vent
to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered
enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although
it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me,
and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more
powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my
joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself
in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even
mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt
also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein,
be not equitable to every other and trample upon
me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and
affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature;
I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel,
whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I
see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was
benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me
happy, and I shall again be virtuous.?
?Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community
between you and me; we are enemies. Begone, or let us try
our strength in a fight, in which one must fall.?
?How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to
turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy
goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein, I was
benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but
am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me;
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what hope can I gather from your fellow creatures, who owe
me nothing? They spurn and hate me. The desert mountains
and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered
here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear,
are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not
grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me
than your fellow beings. If the multitude of mankind knew
of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves
for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who
abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable,
and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in
your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an
evil which it only remains for you to make so great, that not
only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be
swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion
be moved, and do not disdain me. Listen to my tale;
when you have heard that, abandon or commiserate me, as
you shall judge that I deserve. But hear me. The guilty are
allowed, by human laws, bloody as they are, to speak in
their own defence before they are condemned. Listen to me,
Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder, and yet you would,
with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh,
praise the eternal justice of man! Yet I ask you not to spare
me; listen to me, and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy
the work of your hands.?
?Why do you call to my remembrance,? I rejoined, ?circumstances
of which I shudder to reflect, that I have been
the miserable origin and author? Cursed be the day, abhorred
devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although
116 Frankenstein
I curse myself) be the hands that formed you! You have
made me wretched beyond expression. You have left me no
power to consider whether I am just to you or not. Begone!
Relieve me from the sight of your detested form.?
?Thus I relieve thee, my creator,? he said, and placed his
hated hands before my eyes, which I flung from me with violence;
?thus I take from thee a sight which you abhor. Still
thou canst listen to me and grant me thy compassion. By
the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you.
Hear my tale; it is long and strange, and the temperature of
this place is not fitting to your fine sensations; come to the
hut upon the mountain. The sun is yet high in the heavens;
before it descends to hide itself behind your snowy precipices
and illuminate another world, you will have heard my
story and can decide. On you it rests, whether I quit forever
the neighbourhood of man and lead a harmless life, or become
the scourge of your fellow creatures and the author of
your own speedy ruin.?
As he said this he led the way across the ice; I followed.
My heart was full, and I did not answer him, but as I proceeded,
I weighed the various arguments that he had used
and determined at least to listen to his tale. I was partly
urged by curiosity, and compassion confirmed my resolution.
I had hitherto supposed him to be the murderer of my
brother, and I eagerly sought a confirmation or denial of
this opinion. For the first time, also, I felt what the duties
of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to
render him happy before I complained of his wickedness.
These motives urged me to comply with his demand. We
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crossed the ice, therefore, and ascended the opposite rock.
The air was cold, and the rain again began to descend; we
entered the hut, the fiend with an air of exultation, I with a
heavy heart and depressed spirits. But I consented to listen,
and seating myself by the fire which my odious companion
had lighted, he thus began his tale.
118 Frankenstein
Chapter 11
?It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the
original era of my being; all the events of that period
appear confused and indistinct. A strange multiplicity of
sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the
same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned
to distinguish between the operations of my various senses.
By degrees, I remember, a stronger light pressed upon
my nerves, so that I was obliged to shut my eyes. Darkness
then came over me and troubled me, but hardly had I felt
this when, by opening my eyes, as I now suppose, the light
poured in upon me again. I walked and, I believe, descended,
but I presently found a great alteration in my sensations.
Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious
to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could
wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not
either surmount or avoid. The light became more and more
oppressive to me, and the heat wearying me as I walked, I
sought a place where I could receive shade. This was the
forest near Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side of a brook
resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by hunger
and thirst. This roused me from my nearly dormant state,
and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees
or lying on the ground. I slaked my thirst at the brook, and
then lying down, was overcome by sleep.
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?It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and half frightened,
as it were, instinctively, finding myself so desolate.
Before I had quitted your apartment, on a sensation of cold,
I had covered myself with some clothes, but these were insufficient
to secure me from the dews of night. I was a poor,
helpless, miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish,
nothing; but feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down
and wept.
?Soon a gentle light stole over the heavens and gave me
a sensation of pleasure. I started up and beheld a radiant
form rise from among the trees.* [*The moon] I gazed with
a kind of wonder. It moved slowly, but it enlightened my
path, and I again went out in search of berries. I was still
cold when under one of the trees I found a huge cloak, with
which I covered myself, and sat down upon the ground. No
distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused. I felt
light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable
sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted
me; the only object that I could distinguish was the
bright moon, and I fixed my eyes on that with pleasure.
?Several changes of day and night passed, and the orb
of night had greatly lessened, when I began to distinguish
my sensations from each other. I gradually saw plainly the
clear stream that supplied me with drink and the trees that
shaded me with their foliage. I was delighted when I first
discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my
ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals
who had often intercepted the light from my eyes. I
began also to observe, with greater accuracy, the forms that
120 Frankenstein
surrounded me and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant
roof of light which canopied me. Sometimes I tried
to imitate the pleasant songs of the birds but was unable.
Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own
mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate sounds which broke
from me frightened me into silence again.
?The moon had disappeared from the night, and again,
with a lessened form, showed itself, while I still remained in
the forest. My sensations had by this time become distinct,
and my mind received every day additional ideas. My eyes
became accustomed to the light and to perceive objects in
their right forms; I distinguished the insect from the herb,
and by degrees, one herb from another. I found that the
sparrow uttered none but harsh notes, whilst those of the
blackbird and thrush were sweet and enticing.
?One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire
which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was
overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it.
In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly
drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought,
that the same cause should produce such opposite effects! I
examined the materials of the fire, and to my joy found it
to be composed of wood. I quickly collected some branches,
but they were wet and would not burn. I was pained at this
and sat still watching the operation of the fire. The wet wood
which I had placed near the heat dried and itself became
inflamed. I reflected on this, and by touching the various
branches, I discovered the cause and busied myself in collecting
a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it and have
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a plentiful supply of fire. When night came on and brought
sleep with it, I was in the greatest fear lest my fire should
be extinguished. I covered it carefully with dry wood and
leaves and placed wet branches upon it; and then, spreading
my cloak, I lay on the ground and sank into sleep.
?It was morning when I awoke, and my first care was
to visit the fire. I uncovered it, and a gentle breeze quickly
fanned it into a flame. I observed this also and contrived a
fan of branches, which roused the embers when they were
nearly extinguished. When night came again I found, with
pleasure, that the fire gave light as well as heat and that the
discovery of this element was useful to me in my food, for I
found some of the offals that the travellers had left had been
roasted, and tasted much more savoury than the berries I
gathered from the trees. I tried, therefore, to dress my food
in the same manner, placing it on the live embers. I found
that the berries were spoiled by this operation, and the nuts
and roots much improved.
?Food, however, became scarce, and I often spent the
whole day searching in vain for a few acorns to assuage the
pangs of hunger. When I found this, I resolved to quit the
place that I had hitherto inhabited, to seek for one where
the few wants I experienced would be more easily satisfied.
In this emigration I exceedingly lamented the loss of
the fire which I had obtained through accident and knew
not how to reproduce it. I gave several hours to the serious
consideration of this difficulty, but I was obliged to relinquish
all attempt to supply it, and wrapping myself up in my
cloak, I struck across the wood towards the setting sun. I
122 Frankenstein
passed three days in these rambles and at length discovered
the open country. A great fall of snow had taken place the
night before, and the fields were of one uniform white; the
appearance was disconsolate, and I found my feet chilled by
the cold damp substance that covered the ground.
?It was about seven in the morning, and I longed to obtain
food and shelter; at length I perceived a small hut, on a
rising ground, which had doubtless been built for the convenience
of some shepherd. This was a new sight to me, and
I examined the structure with great curiosity. Finding the
door open, I entered. An old man sat in it, near a fire, over
which he was preparing his breakfast. He turned on hearing
a noise, and perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and quitting the
hut, ran across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated
form hardly appeared capable. His appearance, different
from any I had ever before seen, and his flight somewhat
surprised me. But I was enchanted by the appearance of the
hut; here the snow and rain could not penetrate; the ground
was dry; and it presented to me then as exquisite and divine
a retreat as Pandemonium appeared to the demons of hell
after their sufferings in the lake of fire. I greedily devoured
the remnants of the shepherd?s breakfast, which consisted
of bread, cheese, milk, and wine; the latter, however, I did
not like. Then, overcome by fatigue, I lay down among some
straw and fell asleep.
?It was noon when I awoke, and allured by the warmth
of the sun, which shone brightly on the white ground, I determined
to recommence my travels; and, depositing the
remains of the peasant?s breakfast in a wallet I found, I pro-
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ceeded across the fields for several hours, until at sunset I
arrived at a village. How miraculous did this appear! the
huts, the neater cottages, and stately houses engaged my admiration
by turns. The vegetables in the gardens, the milk
and cheese that I saw placed at the windows of some of
the cottages, allured my appetite. One of the best of these
I entered, but I had hardly placed my foot within the door
before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted.
The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me,
until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of
missile weapons, I escaped to the open country and fearfully
took refuge in a low hovel, quite bare, and making a wretched
appearance after the palaces I had beheld in the village.
This hovel however, joined a cottage of a neat and pleasant
appearance, but after my late dearly bought experience, I
dared not enter it. My place of refuge was constructed of
wood, but so low that I could with difficulty sit upright in it.
No wood, however, was placed on the earth, which formed
the floor, but it was dry; and although the wind entered it
by innumerable chinks, I found it an agreeable asylum from
the snow and rain.
?Here, then, I retreated and lay down happy to have
found a shelter, however miserable, from the inclemency of
the season, and still more from the barbarity of man. As
soon as morning dawned I crept from my kennel, that I
might view the adjacent cottage and discover if I could remain
in the habitation I had found. It was situated against
the back of the cottage and surrounded on the sides which
were exposed by a pig sty and a clear pool of water. One part
124 Frankenstein
was open, and by that I had crept in; but now I covered every
crevice by which I might be perceived with stones and
wood, yet in such a manner that I might move them on occasion
to pass out; all the light I enjoyed came through the
sty, and that was sufficient for me.
?Having thus arranged my dwelling and carpeted it with
clean straw, I retired, for I saw the figure of a man at a distance,
and I remembered too well my treatment the night
before to trust myself in his power. I had first, however, provided
for my sustenance for that day by a loaf of coarse bread,
which I purloined, and a cup with which I could drink more
conveniently than from my hand of the pure water which
flowed by my retreat. The floor was a little raised, so that it
was kept perfectly dry, and by its vicinity to the chimney of
the cottage it was tolerably warm.
?Being thus provided, I resolved to reside in this hovel
until something should occur which might alter my determination.
It was indeed a paradise compared to the bleak
forest, my former residence, the rain-dropping branches,
and dank earth. I ate my breakfast with pleasure and
was about to remove a plank to procure myself a little water
when I heard a step, and looking through a small chink,
I beheld a young creature, with a pail on her head, passing
before my hovel. The girl was young and of gentle
demeanour, unlike what I have since found cottagers and
farmhouse servants to be. Yet she was meanly dressed, a
coarse blue petticoat and a linen jacket being her only garb;
her fair hair was plaited but not adorned: she looked patient
yet sad. I lost sight of her, and in about a quarter of an hour
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she returned bearing the pail, which was now partly filled
with milk. As she walked along, seemingly incommoded by
the burden, a young man met her, whose countenance expressed
a deeper despondence. Uttering a few sounds with
an air of melancholy, he took the pail from her head and
bore it to the cottage himself. She followed, and they disappeared.
Presently I saw the young man again, with some
tools in his hand, cross the field behind the cottage; and
the girl was also busied, sometimes in the house and sometimes
in the yard.
?On examining my dwelling, I found that one of the windows
of the cottage had formerly occupied a part of it, but
the panes had been filled up with wood. In one of these was
a small and almost imperceptible chink through which the
eye could just penetrate. Through this crevice a small room
was visible, whitewashed and clean but very bare of furniture.
In one corner, near a small fire, sat an old man, leaning
his head on his hands in a disconsolate attitude. The young
girl was occupied in arranging the cottage; but presently
she took something out of a drawer, which employed her
hands, and she sat down beside the old man, who, taking up
an instrument, began to play and to produce sounds sweeter
than the voice of the thrush or the nightingale. It was
a lovely sight, even to me, poor wretch who had never beheld
aught beautiful before. The silver hair and benevolent
countenance of the aged cottager won my reverence, while
the gentle manners of the girl enticed my love. He played a
sweet mournful air which I perceived drew tears from the
eyes of his amiable companion, of which the old man took
126 Frankenstein
no notice, until she sobbed audibly; he then pronounced a
few sounds, and the fair creature, leaving her work, knelt
at his feet. He raised her and smiled with such kindness
and affection that I felt sensations of a peculiar and overpowering
nature; they were a mixture of pain and pleasure,
such as I had never before experienced, either from hunger
or cold, warmth or food; and I withdrew from the window,
unable to bear these emotions.
?Soon after this the young man returned, bearing on
his shoulders a load of wood. The girl met him at the door,
helped to relieve him of his burden, and taking some of the
fuel into the cottage, placed it on the fire; then she and the
youth went apart into a nook of the cottage, and he showed
her a large loaf and a piece of cheese. She seemed pleased
and went into the garden for some roots and plants, which
she placed in water, and then upon the fire. She afterwards
continued her work, whilst the young man went into the
garden and appeared busily employed in digging and pulling
up roots. After he had been employed thus about an
hour, the young woman joined him and they entered the
cottage together.
?The old man had, in the meantime, been pensive, but
on the appearance of his companions he assumed a more
cheerful air, and they sat down to eat. The meal was quickly
dispatched. The young woman was again occupied in
arranging the cottage, the old man walked before the cottage
in the sun for a few minutes, leaning on the arm of
the youth. Nothing could exceed in beauty the contrast
between these two excellent creatures. One was old, with
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silver hairs and a countenance beaming with benevolence
and love; the younger was slight and graceful in his figure,
and his features were moulded with the finest symmetry,
yet his eyes and attitude expressed the utmost sadness and
despondency. The old man returned to the cottage, and the
youth, with tools different from those he had used in the
morning, directed his steps across the fields.
?Night quickly shut in, but to my extreme wonder, I found
that the cottagers had a means of prolonging light by the
use of tapers, and was delighted to find that the setting of
the sun did not put an end to the pleasure I experienced in
watching my human neighbours. In the evening the young
girl and her companion were employed in various occupations
which I did not understand; and the old man again
took up the instrument which produced the divine sounds
that had enchanted me in the morning. So soon as he had
finished, the youth began, not to play, but to utter sounds
that were monotonous, and neither resembling the harmony
of the old man?s instrument nor the songs of the birds;
I since found that he read aloud, but at that time I knew
nothing of the science of words or letters.
?The family, after having been thus occupied for a short
time, extinguished their lights and retired, as I conjectured,
to rest.?
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Chapter 12
?I lay on my straw, but I could not sleep. I thought of the
occurrences of the day. What chiefly struck me was the
gentle manners of these people, and I longed to join them,
but dared not. I remembered too well the treatment I had
suffered the night before from the barbarous villagers, and
resolved, whatever course of conduct I might hereafter
think it right to pursue, that for the present I would remain
quietly in my hovel, watching and endeavouring to discover
the motives which influenced their actions.
?The cottagers arose the next morning before the sun.
The young woman arranged the cottage and prepared the
food, and the youth departed after the first meal.
?This day was passed in the same routine as that which
preceded it. The young man was constantly employed out
of doors, and the girl in various laborious occupations
within. The old man, whom I soon perceived to be blind,
employed his leisure hours on his instrument or in contemplation.
Nothing could exceed the love and respect which
the younger cottagers exhibited towards their venerable
companion. They performed towards him every little office
of affection and duty with gentleness, and he rewarded
them by his benevolent smiles.
?They were not entirely happy. The young man and his
companion often went apart and appeared to weep. I saw
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no cause for their unhappiness, but I was deeply affected by
it. If such lovely creatures were miserable, it was less strange
that I, an imperfect and solitary being, should be wretched.
Yet why were these gentle beings unhappy? They possessed
a delightful house (for such it was in my eyes) and every
luxury; they had a fire to warm them when chill and delicious
viands when hungry; they were dressed in excellent
clothes; and, still more, they enjoyed one another?s company
and speech, interchanging each day looks of affection
and kindness. What did their tears imply? Did they really
express pain? I was at first unable to solve these questions,
but perpetual attention and time explained to me many appearances
which were at first enigmatic.
?A considerable period elapsed before I discovered one of
the causes of the uneasiness of this amiable family: it was
poverty, and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree.
Their nourishment consisted entirely of the vegetables
of their garden and the milk of one cow, which gave very
little during the winter, when its masters could scarcely
procure food to support it. They often, I believe, suffered the
pangs of hunger very poignantly, especially the two younger
cottagers, for several times they placed food before the
old man when they reserved none for themselves.
?This trait of kindness moved me sensibly. I had been accustomed,
during the night, to steal a part of their store for
my own consumption, but when I found that in doing this
I inflicted pain on the cottagers, I abstained and satisfied
myself with berries, nuts, and roots which I gathered from
a neighbouring wood.
130 Frankenstein
?I discovered also another means through which I was
enabled to assist their labours. I found that the youth spent
a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family
fire, and during the night I often took his tools, the use of
which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient
for the consumption of several days.
?I remember, the first time that I did this, the young
woman, when she opened the door in the morning, appeared
greatly astonished on seeing a great pile of wood on
the outside. She uttered some words in a loud voice, and the
youth joined her, who also expressed surprise. I observed,
with pleasure, that he did not go to the forest that day, but
spent it in repairing the cottage and cultivating the garden.
?By degrees I made a discovery of still greater moment. I
found that these people possessed a method of communicating
their experience and feelings to one another by articulate
sounds. I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes
produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds
and countenances of the hearers. This was indeed a godlike
science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with
it. But I was baffled in every attempt I made for this purpose.
Their pronunciation was quick, and the words they
uttered, not having any apparent connection with visible
objects, I was unable to discover any clue by which I could
unravel the mystery of their reference. By great application,
however, and after having remained during the space of several
revolutions of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the
names that were given to some of the most familiar objects
of discourse; I learned and applied the words, ?fire,? ?milk,?
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?bread,? and ?wood.? I learned also the names of the cottagers
themselves. The youth and his companion had each of
them several names, but the old man had only one, which
was ?father.? The girl was called ?sister? or ?Agatha,? and the
youth ?Felix,? ?brother,? or ?son.? I cannot describe the delight
I felt when I learned the ideas appropriated to each of these
sounds and was able to pronounce them. I distinguished
several other words without being able as yet to understand
or apply them, such as ?good,? ?dearest,? unhappy.
?I spent the winter in this manner. The gentle manners
and beauty of the cottagers greatly endeared them to me;
when they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they rejoiced,
I sympathized in their joys. I saw few human beings
besides them, and if any other happened to enter the cottage,
their harsh manners and rude gait only enhanced to
me the superior accomplishments of my friends. The old
man, I could perceive, often endeavoured to encourage his
children, as sometimes I found that he called them, to cast
off their melancholy. He would talk in a cheerful accent,
with an expression of goodness that bestowed pleasure even
upon me. Agatha listened with respect, her eyes sometimes
filled with tears, which she endeavoured to wipe away unperceived;
but I generally found that her countenance and
tone were more cheerful after having listened to the exhortations
of her father. It was not thus with Felix. He was
always the saddest of the group, and even to my unpractised
senses, he appeared to have suffered more deeply than
his friends. But if his countenance was more sorrowful, his
voice was more cheerful than that of his sister, especially
132 Frankenstein
when he addressed the old man.
?I could mention innumerable instances which, although
slight, marked the dispositions of these amiable cottagers.
In the midst of poverty and want, Felix carried with pleasure
to his sister the first little white flower that peeped out
from beneath the snowy ground. Early in the morning, before
she had risen, he cleared away the snow that obstructed
her path to the milk-house, drew water from the well, and
brought the wood from the outhouse, where, to his perpetual
astonishment, he found his store always replenished by
an invisible hand. In the day, I believe, he worked sometimes
for a neighbouring farmer, because he often went
forth and did not return until dinner, yet brought no wood
with him. At other times he worked in the garden, but as
there was little to do in the frosty season, he read to the old
man and Agatha.
?This reading had puzzled me extremely at first, but by degrees
I discovered that he uttered many of the same sounds
when he read as when he talked. I conjectured, therefore,
that he found on the paper signs for speech which he understood,
and I ardently longed to comprehend these also;
but how was that possible when I did not even understand
the sounds for which they stood as signs? I improved, however,
sensibly in this science, but not sufficiently to follow
up any kind of conversation, although I applied my whole
mind to the endeavour, for I easily perceived that, although
I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought
not to make the attempt until I had first become master of
their language, which knowledge might enable me to make
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them overlook the deformity of my figure, for with this also
the contrast perpetually presented to my eyes had made me
?I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers?their
grace, beauty, and delicate complexions; but how was I terrified
when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I
started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was
reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced
that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with
the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification.
Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable
?As the sun became warmer and the light of day longer,
the snow vanished, and I beheld the bare trees and the
black earth. From this time Felix was more employed, and
the heart-moving indications of impending famine disappeared.
Their food, as I afterwards found, was coarse, but it
was wholesome; and they procured a sufficiency of it. Several
new kinds of plants sprang up in the garden, which they
dressed; and these signs of comfort increased daily as the
season advanced.
?The old man, leaning on his son, walked each day at
noon, when it did not rain, as I found it was called when the
heavens poured forth its waters. This frequently took place,
but a high wind quickly dried the earth, and the season became
far more pleasant than it had been.
?My mode of life in my hovel was uniform. During the
morning I attended the motions of the cottagers, and when
they were dispersed in various occupations, I slept; the
134 Frankenstein
remainder of the day was spent in observing my friends.
When they had retired to rest, if there was any moon or the
night was star-light, I went into the woods and collected my
own food and fuel for the cottage. When I returned, as often
as it was necessary, I cleared their path from the snow
and performed those offices that I had seen done by Felix.
I afterwards found that these labours, performed by an invisible
hand, greatly astonished them; and once or twice
I heard them, on these occasions, utter the words ?good
spirit,? ?wonderful?; but I did not then understand the signification
of these terms.
?My thoughts now became more active, and I longed to
discover the motives and feelings of these lovely creatures;
I was inquisitive to know why Felix appeared so miserable
and Agatha so sad. I thought (foolish wretch!) that it might
be in my power to restore happiness to these deserving people.
When I slept or was absent, the forms of the venerable
blind father, the gentle Agatha, and the excellent Felix flitted
before me. I looked upon them as superior beings who
would be the arbiters of my future destiny. I formed in my
imagination a thousand pictures of presenting myself to
them, and their reception of me. I imagined that they would
be disgusted, until, by my gentle demeanour and conciliating
words, I should first win their favour and afterwards
their love.
?These thoughts exhilarated me and led me to apply with
fresh ardour to the acquiring the art of language. My organs
were indeed harsh, but supple; and although my voice was
very unlike the soft music of their tones, yet I pronounced
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such words as I understood with tolerable ease. It was as
the ass and the lap-dog; yet surely the gentle ass whose intentions
were affectionate, although his manners were rude,
deserved better treatment than blows and execration.
?The pleasant showers and genial warmth of spring
greatly altered the aspect of the earth. Men who before this
change seemed to have been hid in caves dispersed themselves
and were employed in various arts of cultivation. The
birds sang in more cheerful notes, and the leaves began to
bud forth on the trees. Happy, happy earth! Fit habitation
for gods, which, so short a time before, was bleak, damp,
and unwholesome. My spirits were elevated by the enchanting
appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my
memory, the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by
bright rays of hope and anticipations of joy.?
136 Frankenstein
Chapter 13
?I now hasten to the more moving part of my story. I shall
relate events that impressed me with feelings which,
from what I had been, have made me what I am.
?Spring advanced rapidly; the weather became fine and
the skies cloudless. It surprised me that what before was
desert and gloomy should now bloom with the most beautiful
flowers and verdure. My senses were gratified and
refreshed by a thousand scents of delight and a thousand
sights of beauty.
?It was on one of these days, when my cottagers periodically
rested from labour?the old man played on his guitar,
and the children listened to him?that I observed the countenance
of Felix was melancholy beyond expression; he
sighed frequently, and once his father paused in his music,
and I conjectured by his manner that he inquired the cause
of his son?s sorrow. Felix replied in a cheerful accent, and
the old man was recommencing his music when someone
tapped at the door.
?It was a lady on horseback, accompanied by a countryman
as a guide. The lady was dressed in a dark suit and
covered with a thick black veil. Agatha asked a question, to
which the stranger only replied by pronouncing, in a sweet
accent, the name of Felix. Her voice was musical but unlike
that of either of my friends. On hearing this word, Felix
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came up hastily to the lady, who, when she saw him, threw
up her veil, and I beheld a countenance of angelic beauty and
expression. Her hair of a shining raven black, and curiously
braided; her eyes were dark, but gentle, although animated;
her features of a regular proportion, and her complexion
wondrously fair, each cheek tinged with a lovely pink.
?Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, every
trait of sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantly
expressed a degree of ecstatic joy, of which I could hardly
have believed it capable; his eyes sparkled, as his cheek
flushed with pleasure; and at that moment I thought him as
beautiful as the stranger. She appeared affected by different
feelings; wiping a few tears from her lovely eyes, she held
out her hand to Felix, who kissed it rapturously and called
her, as well as I could distinguish, his sweet Arabian. She
did not appear to understand him, but smiled. He assisted
her to dismount, and dismissing her guide, conducted
her into the cottage. Some conversation took place between
him and his father, and the young stranger knelt at the old
man?s feet and would have kissed his hand, but he raised her
and embraced her affectionately.
?I soon perceived that although the stranger uttered articulate
sounds and appeared to have a language of her own,
she was neither understood by nor herself understood the
cottagers. They made many signs which I did not comprehend,
but I saw that her presence diffused gladness through
the cottage, dispelling their sorrow as the sun dissipates
the morning mists. Felix seemed peculiarly happy and
with smiles of delight welcomed his Arabian. Agatha, the
138 Frankenstein
ever-gentle Agatha, kissed the hands of the lovely stranger,
and pointing to her brother, made signs which appeared
to me to mean that he had been sorrowful until she came.
Some hours passed thus, while they, by their countenances,
expressed joy, the cause of which I did not comprehend.
Presently I found, by the frequent recurrence of some sound
which the stranger repeated after them, that she was endeavouring
to learn their language; and the idea instantly
occurred to me that I should make use of the same instructions
to the same end. The stranger learned about twenty
words at the first lesson; most of them, indeed, were those
which I had before understood, but I profited by the others.
?As night came on, Agatha and the Arabian retired early.
When they separated Felix kissed the hand of the stranger
and said, ?Good night sweet Safie.? He sat up much longer,
conversing with his father, and by the frequent repetition
of her name I conjectured that their lovely guest was the
subject of their conversation. I ardently desired to understand
them, and bent every faculty towards that purpose,
but found it utterly impossible.
?The next morning Felix went out to his work, and after
the usual occupations of Agatha were finished, the Arabian
sat at the feet of the old man, and taking his guitar, played
some airs so entrancingly beautiful that they at once drew
tears of sorrow and delight from my eyes. She sang, and her
voice flowed in a rich cadence, swelling or dying away like a
nightingale of the woods.
?When she had finished, she gave the guitar to Agatha,
who at first declined it. She played a simple air, and her voice
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accompanied it in sweet accents, but unlike the wondrous
strain of the stranger. The old man appeared enraptured
and said some words which Agatha endeavoured to explain
to Safie, and by which he appeared to wish to express that
she bestowed on him the greatest delight by her music.
?The days now passed as peaceably as before, with the sole
alteration that joy had taken place of sadness in the countenances
of my friends. Safie was always gay and happy;
she and I improved rapidly in the knowledge of language,
so that in two months I began to comprehend most of the
words uttered by my protectors.
?In the meanwhile also the black ground was covered
with herbage, and the green banks interspersed with innumerable
flowers, sweet to the scent and the eyes, stars of
pale radiance among the moonlight woods; the sun became
warmer, the nights clear and balmy; and my nocturnal rambles
were an extreme pleasure to me, although they were
considerably shortened by the late setting and early rising
of the sun, for I never ventured abroad during daylight,
fearful of meeting with the same treatment I had formerly
endured in the first village which I entered.
?My days were spent in close attention, that I might more
speedily master the language; and I may boast that I improved
more rapidly than the Arabian, who understood
very little and conversed in broken accents, whilst I comprehended
and could imitate almost every word that was
?While I improved in speech, I also learned the science of
letters as it was taught to the stranger, and this opened be-
140 Frankenstein
fore me a wide field for wonder and delight.
?The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney?s
Ruins of Empires. I should not have understood the purport
of this book had not Felix, in reading it, given very minute
explanations. He had chosen this work, he said, because the
declamatory style was framed in imitation of the Eastern
authors. Through this work I obtained a cursory knowledge
of history and a view of the several empires at present existing
in the world; it gave me an insight into the manners,
governments, and religions of the different nations of the
earth. I heard of the slothful Asiatics, of the stupendous genius
and mental activity of the Grecians, of the wars and
wonderful virtue of the early Romans?of their subsequent
degenerating?of the decline of that mighty empire, of chivalry,
Christianity, and kings. I heard of the discovery of the
American hemisphere and wept with Safie over the hapless
fate of its original inhabitants.
?These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange
feelings. Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous
and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at
one time a mere scion of the evil principle and at another as
all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great
and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall
a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on
record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition
more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless
worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man
could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were
laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and
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bloodshed, my wonder ceased and I turned away with disgust
and loathing.
?Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new
wonders to me. While I listened to the instructions which
Felix bestowed upon the Arabian, the strange system of human
society was explained to me. I heard of the division of
property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty, of rank,
descent, and noble blood.
?The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned
that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow creatures
were high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man
might be respected with only one of these advantages, but
without either he was considered, except in very rare instances,
as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his
powers for the profits of the chosen few! And what was I?
Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant, but
I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of
property. I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed
and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature
as man. I was more agile than they and could subsist upon
coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less
injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs. When I
looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then,
a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled
and whom all men disowned?
?I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections
inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only
increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had forever remained
in my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensa-
142 Frankenstein
tions of hunger, thirst, and heat!
?Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the
mind when it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock.
I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but
I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation
of pain, and that was death?a state which I feared
yet did not understand. I admired virtue and good feelings
and loved the gentle manners and amiable qualities of my
cottagers, but I was shut out from intercourse with them,
except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I
was unseen and unknown, and which rather increased than
satisfied the desire I had of becoming one among my fellows.
The gentle words of Agatha and the animated smiles of the
charming Arabian were not for me. The mild exhortations
of the old man and the lively conversation of the loved Felix
were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch!
?Other lessons were impressed upon me even more deeply.
I heard of the difference of sexes, and the birth and growth
of children, how the father doted on the smiles of the infant,
and the lively sallies of the older child, how all the life and
cares of the mother were wrapped up in the precious charge,
how the mind of youth expanded and gained knowledge, of
brother, sister, and all the various relationships which bind
one human being to another in mutual bonds.
?But where were my friends and relations? No father had
watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with
smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now
a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing.
From my earliest remembrance I had been as I then was in
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height and proportion. I had never yet seen a being resembling
me or who claimed any intercourse with me. What
was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only
with groans.
?I will soon explain to what these feelings tended, but allow
me now to return to the cottagers, whose story excited
in me such various feelings of indignation, delight, and
wonder, but which all terminated in additional love and
reverence for my protectors (for so I loved, in an innocent,
half-painful self-deceit, to call them).?
144 Frankenstein
Chapter 14
?Some time elapsed before I learned the history of my
friends. It was one which could not fail to impress itself
deeply on my mind, unfolding as it did a number of
circumstances, each interesting and wonderful to one so
utterly inexperienced as I was.
?The name of the old man was De Lacey. He was descended
from a good family in France, where he had lived
for many years in affluence, respected by his superiors and
beloved by his equals. His son was bred in the service of his
country, and Agatha had ranked with ladies of the highest
distinction. A few months before my arrival they had lived
in a large and luxurious city called Paris, surrounded by
friends and possessed of every enjoyment which virtue, refinement
of intellect, or taste, accompanied by a moderate
fortune, could afford.
?The father of Safie had been the cause of their ruin. He
was a Turkish merchant and had inhabited Paris for many
years, when, for some reason which I could not learn, he
became obnoxious to the government. He was seized and
cast into prison the very day that Safie arrived from Constantinople
to join him. He was tried and condemned to
death. The injustice of his sentence was very flagrant; all
Paris was indignant; and it was judged that his religion and
wealth rather than the crime alleged against him had been
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the cause of his condemnation.
?Felix had accidentally been present at the trial; his horror
and indignation were uncontrollable when he heard the decision
of the court. He made, at that moment, a solemn vow
to deliver him and then looked around for the means. After
many fruitless attempts to gain admittance to the prison,
he found a strongly grated window in an unguarded part
of the building, which lighted the dungeon of the unfortunate
Muhammadan, who, loaded with chains, waited in
despair the execution of the barbarous sentence. Felix visited
the grate at night and made known to the prisoner his
intentions in his favour. The Turk, amazed and delighted,
endeavoured to kindle the zeal of his deliverer by promises
of reward and wealth. Felix rejected his offers with contempt,
yet when he saw the lovely Safie, who was allowed to
visit her father and who by her gestures expressed her lively
gratitude, the youth could not help owning to his own mind
that the captive possessed a treasure which would fully reward
his toil and hazard.
?The Turk quickly perceived the impression that his
daughter had made on the heart of Felix and endeavoured
to secure him more entirely in his interests by the promise
of her hand in marriage so soon as he should be conveyed
to a place of safety. Felix was too delicate to accept this offer,
yet he looked forward to the probability of the event as to
the consummation of his happiness.
?During the ensuing days, while the preparations were
going forward for the escape of the merchant, the zeal of
Felix was warmed by several letters that he received from
146 Frankenstein
this lovely girl, who found means to express her thoughts in
the language of her lover by the aid of an old man, a servant
of her father who understood French. She thanked him in
the most ardent terms for his intended services towards her
parent, and at the same time she gently deplored her own
?I have copies of these letters, for I found means, during
my residence in the hovel, to procure the implements
of writing; and the letters were often in the hands of Felix
or Agatha. Before I depart I will give them to you; they
will prove the truth of my tale; but at present, as the sun is
already far declined, I shall only have time to repeat the
substance of them to you.
?Safie related that her mother was a Christian Arab, seized
and made a slave by the Turks; recommended by her beauty,
she had won the heart of the father of Safie, who married
her. The young girl spoke in high and enthusiastic terms of
her mother, who, born in freedom, spurned the bondage to
which she was now reduced. She instructed her daughter in
the tenets of her religion and taught her to aspire to higher
powers of intellect and an independence of spirit forbidden
to the female followers of Muhammad. This lady died, but
her lessons were indelibly impressed on the mind of Safie,
who sickened at the prospect of again returning to Asia and
being immured within the walls of a harem, allowed only
to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill-suited to
the temper of her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and
a noble emulation for virtue. The prospect of marrying a
Christian and remaining in a country where women were
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allowed to take a rank in society was enchanting to her.
?The day for the execution of the Turk was fixed, but on
the night previous to it he quitted his prison and before
morning was distant many leagues from Paris. Felix had
procured passports in the name of his father, sister, and
himself. He had previously communicated his plan to the
former, who aided the deceit by quitting his house, under
the pretence of a journey and concealed himself, with his
daughter, in an obscure part of Paris.
?Felix conducted the fugitives through France to Lyons
and across Mont Cenis to Leghorn, where the merchant had
decided to wait a favourable opportunity of passing into
some part of the Turkish dominions.
?Safie resolved to remain with her father until the moment
of his departure, before which time the Turk renewed
his promise that she should be united to his deliverer; and
Felix remained with them in expectation of that event; and
in the meantime he enjoyed the society of the Arabian, who
exhibited towards him the simplest and tenderest affection.
They conversed with one another through the means of an
interpreter, and sometimes with the interpretation of looks;
and Safie sang to him the divine airs of her native country.
?The Turk allowed this intimacy to take place and encouraged
the hopes of the youthful lovers, while in his heart
he had formed far other plans. He loathed the idea that his
daughter should be united to a Christian, but he feared the
resentment of Felix if he should appear lukewarm, for he
knew that he was still in the power of his deliverer if he
should choose to betray him to the Italian state which they
148 Frankenstein
inhabited. He revolved a thousand plans by which he should
be enabled to prolong the deceit until it might be no longer
necessary, and secretly to take his daughter with him when
he departed. His plans were facilitated by the news which
arrived from Paris.
?The government of France were greatly enraged at the
escape of their victim and spared no pains to detect and
punish his deliverer. The plot of Felix was quickly discovered,
and DeLacey and Agatha were thrown into prison.
The news reached Felix and roused him from his dream of
pleasure. His blind and aged father and his gentle sister lay
in a noisome dungeon while he enjoyed the free air and the
society of her whom he loved. This idea was torture to him.
He quickly arranged with the Turk that if the latter should
find a favourable opportunity for escape before Felix could
return to Italy, Safie should remain as a boarder at a convent
at Leghorn; and then, quitting the lovely Arabian, he
hastened to Paris and delivered himself up to the vengeance
of the law, hoping to free De Lacey and Agatha by this proceeding.
?He did not succeed. They remained confined for five
months before the trial took place, the result of which deprived
them of their fortune and condemned them to a
perpetual exile from their native country.
?They found a miserable asylum in the cottage in Germany,
where I discovered them. Felix soon learned that
the treacherous Turk, for whom he and his family endured
such unheard-of oppression, on discovering that his deliverer
was thus reduced to poverty and ruin, became a traitor
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to good feeling and honour and had quitted Italy with his
daughter, insultingly sending Felix a pittance of money to
aid him, as he said, in some plan of future maintenance.
?Such were the events that preyed on the heart of Felix
and rendered him, when I first saw him, the most miserable
of his family. He could have endured poverty, and while
this distress had been the meed of his virtue, he gloried in
it; but the ingratitude of the Turk and the loss of his beloved
Safie were misfortunes more bitter and irreparable. The arrival
of the Arabian now infused new life into his soul.
?When the news reached Leghorn that Felix was deprived
of his wealth and rank, the merchant commanded
his daughter to think no more of her lover, but to prepare to
return to her native country. The generous nature of Safie
was outraged by this command; she attempted to expostulate
with her father, but he left her angrily, reiterating his
tyrannical mandate.
?A few days after, the Turk entered his daughter?s apartment
and told her hastily that he had reason to believe that
his residence at Leghorn had been divulged and that he
should speedily be delivered up to the French government;
he had consequently hired a vessel to convey him to Constantinople,
for which city he should sail in a few hours. He
intended to leave his daughter under the care of a confidential
servant, to follow at her leisure with the greater part of
his property, which had not yet arrived at Leghorn.
?When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of
conduct that it would become her to pursue in this emergency.
A residence in Turkey was abhorrent to her; her religion
150 Frankenstein
and her feelings were alike averse to it. By some papers of
her father which fell into her hands she heard of the exile of
her lover and learnt the name of the spot where he then resided.
She hesitated some time, but at length she formed her
determination. Taking with her some jewels that belonged
to her and a sum of money, she quitted Italy with an attendant,
a native of Leghorn, but who understood the common
language of Turkey, and departed for Germany.
?She arrived in safety at a town about twenty leagues from
the cottage of De Lacey, when her attendant fell dangerously
ill. Safie nursed her with the most devoted affection, but the
poor girl died, and the Arabian was left alone, unacquainted
with the language of the country and utterly ignorant of
the customs of the world. She fell, however, into good hands.
The Italian had mentioned the name of the spot for which
they were bound, and after her death the woman of the
house in which they had lived took care that Safie should
arrive in safety at the cottage of her lover.?
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Chapter 15
?Such was the history of my beloved cottagers. It impressed
me deeply. I learned, from the views of social
life which it developed, to admire their virtues and to deprecate
the vices of mankind.
?As yet I looked upon crime as a distant evil, benevolence
and generosity were ever present before me, inciting within
me a desire to become an actor in the busy scene where so
many admirable qualities were called forth and displayed.
But in giving an account of the progress of my intellect, I
must not omit a circumstance which occurred in the beginning
of the month of August of the same year.
?One night during my accustomed visit to the neighbouring
wood where I collected my own food and brought home
firing for my protectors, I found on the ground a leathern
portmanteau containing several articles of dress and some
books. I eagerly seized the prize and returned with it to my
hovel. Fortunately the books were written in the language,
the elements of which I had acquired at the cottage; they
consisted of Paradise Lost, a volume of Plutarch?s Lives, and
the Sorrows of Werter. The possession of these treasures
gave me extreme delight; I now continually studied and
exercised my mind upon these histories, whilst my friends
were employed in their ordinary occupations.
?I can hardly describe to you the effect of these books.
152 Frankenstein
They produced in me an infinity of new images and feelings,
that sometimes raised me to ecstasy, but more frequently
sunk me into the lowest dejection. In the Sorrows of Werter,
besides the interest of its simple and affecting story, so
many opinions are canvassed and so many lights thrown
upon what had hitherto been to me obscure subjects that
I found in it a never-ending source of speculation and astonishment.
The gentle and domestic manners it described,
combined with lofty sentiments and feelings, which had
for their object something out of self, accorded well with
my experience among my protectors and with the wants
which were forever alive in my own bosom. But I thought
Werter himself a more divine being than I had ever beheld
or imagined; his character contained no pretension, but it
sank deep. The disquisitions upon death and suicide were
calculated to fill me with wonder. I did not pretend to enter
into the merits of the case, yet I inclined towards the opinions
of the hero, whose extinction I wept, without precisely
understanding it.
?As I read, however, I applied much personally to my
own feelings and condition. I found myself similar yet at
the same time strangely unlike to the beings concerning
whom I read and to whose conversation I was a listener. I
sympathized with and partly understood them, but I was
unformed in mind; I was dependent on none and related
to none. ?The path of my departure was free,? and there was
none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous
and my stature gigantic. What did this mean? Who was I?
What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?
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These questions continually recurred, but I was unable to
solve them.
?The volume of Plutarch?s Lives which I possessed contained
the histories of the first founders of the ancient
republics. This book had a far different effect upon me from
the Sorrows of Werter. I learned from Werter?s imaginations
despondency and gloom, but Plutarch taught me high
thoughts; he eleva