bodies and identities


As the creature relates his history to Victor, it becomes clear that he is not a monster but a human being who has just recently progressed through stages of development equivalent to those of a newborn child. Upon birth he is self-aware and soon he begins to develop senses, finding wonder and amazement in nature around him:

I began to distinguish my sensations from each other…I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes…One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. (Vol. 2, Ch. 3)

When the creature sees human society for the first time, he is even more awe-struck, quickly longing to interact with these beings that are similar to him. Unfortunately, those he approaches recoil in terror. "One of the best of these [cottages] I entered; but I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted" (Vol. 2, Ch. 3). As a result, the despairing creature is forced to hide and observe human behavior from afar.

During his self-imposed exile from society, the creature finds a surrogate family in the De Lacey family, which includes the blind and elderly Frenchman, his young daughter Agatha, her brother Felix, and Safie, Felix's lover from the east. The creature is intrigued by their actions and their demeanor, struck by "the gentle manners of these people; and I longed to join them, but dared not" (Vol. 2, Ch. 4). As the creature observes the De Lacey family's relations, he is overwhelmed by immense joy and wonder. Through their interactions he learns speech and, perhaps most importantly, he becomes literate-all steps necessary to accomplish his goal of joining human society like any other growing child. The creature learns societal behavior and norms through his "family," and, perhaps most importantly, he learns the fundamentals of humanity through works of literature: history through Ruins of Empires, greatness and villainy through Plutarch's Lives, spirituality and tragedy through Paradise Lost, and loss through The Sorrows of Werter. The creature develops a keen sense of rationality and logic through these books, which give definition to his emotions. He identifies most with the last two works because their overwhelming tone of despair matches his own reaction to being rejected by the ignorance of the society he so fiercely wishes to be a part of:

Paradise Lost excited different and far deeper emotions… it moved every feeling of wonder and awe, that the picture of an omnipotent God warring with his creatures was capable of exciting. I often referred the several situations, as their similarity struck me, to my own. Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence…but I was wretched, helpless, and alone. (Vol. 2, Ch. 7)

Rejected by both his creator and society in general, the creature nonetheless attempts yet again to overcome his misery and despair by reaching out to the De Lacey family, whom he has grown to love from a distance. Desperately longing for returned affection, the creature eventually approaches the family and attempts to join them. Initially the blind De Lacey engages the creature as a comrade: "I am blind, and cannot judge of your countenance, but there is something in your words which persuades me that you are sincere." His blindness is actually a gift of vision that allows De Lacey to truly see the creature-for a moment, the wall of ignorance is lifted and the creature is De Lacey's equal. This inevitably gives way to rejection in a series of panicked mistakes by both the family and the creature:

I had not a moment to lose; but, seizing the hand of the old man, I cried…At that instant the cottage door was opened, and Felix, Safie, and Agatha entered…Agatha fainted; and Safie, unable to attend to her friend, rushed out of the cottage. Felix darted forward, and with supernatural force tore me from his father, to whose knees I clung; in a transport of fury, he dashed me to the ground, and struck me violently with a stick. (Vol. 2, Ch. 8)

Even though the young humans act in what they perceive to be the defense of their father, the creature views this as ultimate rejection and, filled with rage, vows revenge on all humanity for his misery-filled and cursed existence:

Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? ...I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge…from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery. (Vol. 2, Ch. 8)




  attitudes toward creation




creature's history


creature's humanity


  other themes