Frankenstein Chapters 9-12 - Summary

  Chapter 9 shows the aftermath of Justine's trial. Victor continues to be haunted by guilt, and the feeling that he is responsible for her death. Victor's father, Alphonse, attempts to comfort his children by taking them on a family vacation to Belrive, Switzerland. While there, Victor wanders by himself toward the valley of Chamounix. Taking in the beautiful natural scenery, he finds some temporary reprieve from his depression. This idea is of seeking comfort from nature is a very common idea in Romantic literature. The Romantic period came about as a reaction against the Industrial Revolution, a time during which people were moving to cities and investing in technology. Writers in this movement sought to move away from growing cities, and they believed strongly in the healing power of nature.

  Soon after he experiences temporarily lifted spirits, however, Victor sinks back into depression. He again seeks refuge in nature, journeying to the top of Montanvert, a mountain on the Swiss Alps. At the top of the mountain, he starts to feel better again...until he sees the monster coming toward him across a glacier on the lake below. The monster approaches and Victor threatens him. However, the creature begins to speak-quite eloquently for a monster-and invites Victor a cave. Basically, the monster wants to share a fire with Victor and tell him his life story. Reluctantly, Victor agrees to accompany him.

  The monster then begins to tell the story of his life, starting when he first woke up after his creation. At first, the monster was confused. However, he came to understand the world through his senses: recognizing light and dark, hot and cold, hunger and thirst. There is no clear description about how exactly he left Victor's apartment and ended up in the Swiss Alps. Presumably, he wandered around for a time, unaware of his surroundings. The monster describes how he one day discovered fire, realizing he could use it for warmth and cooking food. Eventually, the monster roams the countryside to various villages; however, each time he goes into a village, people flee from him because of his hideous appearance.

  One night, he seeks refuge in an abandoned hovel. From this location, he watches a family who lives nearby. The family consists of a young man, a young woman, and an old man. For a long time, the monster observes these people. As he watches, he eventually picks up their language, learning the young man is called Felix, and the woman is Agatha; with their blind father, they make up the De Lacey family. He begins to notice, also, that they always seemed worried and unhappy. With time, he comes to realize that it is because they live in relative poverty. He realizes he has not been helping their situation because he has been stealing food from them. To make up for this, he starts gathering wood and stacking it by their door.

  As he watches the people, the monster gradually becomes more self-aware. One day, he catches his own reflection in a pool of water, and he realizes his own grotesqueness when compared to these other people. However, as he stays in the hovel a whole winter, he gradually becomes very affectionate toward the De Lacey's-though he never speaks to them and they do not know of his existence-regarding them as "his cottagers."

  These chapters are the first time that the reader interacts directly with the monster. As he watches the people in the cottage-who care for each other during their hardship-it becomes evident just how alone and isolated he is. Indeed, he realizes he has no social identity at all, not even a name of his own.

  The monster's actions throughout this section also show him to be quite opposite of the monster that Victor expected. He's actually incredibly kind once he becomes self-aware. He feels guilty when he realizes he has been stealing from poor people. And, unlike Victor who allows Justine to meet a terrible fate, the monster tries to atone for his actions with the simple gift of firewood. He is a character the reader will certainly sympathize with.

  The De Lacey family themselves are another key Romantic feature of this novel. The Romantics valued a simple, rustic lifestyle, one in which people lived humbly in the country, away from the torments of the city. Clearly, the De Lacey family are hard-working, compassionate individuals. Even the monster admires them, wondering at their seeming unhappiness when, it seems to him they have everything: companionship, a home, food, and a worthwhile life.

  When Victor encounters the monster in this section, it is clear that the monster has become, to Victor, an entirely different kind of threat than before. In previous chapters, Victor was concerned simply because the creature was brutish and hideous. Now, however, the monster is articulate and intelligent. Though the reader can see the monster as a sympathetic character, Victor doesn't seem to buy into this. However, there is also an interesting parallel here between Victor and the monster. In making this creature, Victor realized the two-fold nature of knowledge: it can bring you understanding, but it can also cause understanding of things you wish you could un-know. Like Victor's creation of the monster, the monster himself realizes, with his new knowledge of the world, that he leads a lonely life. In a sense, the monster's unaware state was a indeed a simpler state.

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