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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Frankenstein

Frankenstein chapter by chapter reading, continued. Confused? Read my introduction post; chapters I to III; chapters IV to VII.

frankenstein 184x300 FrankensteinVolume II

Chapter I

Justine died.” Poor Justine!

Meanwhile, the father is being the voice of reason and cautions all against “immoderate grief.”

They are in the house in Belrive; Victor spends his days on the lake. He’s emo boy, all right.

Elizabeth is upset about Justine’s death, especially that an innocent person was convicted. I guess before this, she thought the system always works. “Now misery has come home, and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other’s blood.”

And now to Chamounix. Victor continues to feel things, deeply. He continues to feel guilty. He continues to do nothing about his deep feelings. To be honest, I’m not sure what Victor could be doing right now. Any time for action was in the days after the creature was made, and he was ill then.

Chapter II

And now Victor climbs Montanvert, and it doesn’t really matter why, because this, the first time he’s been alone for weeks, guess what happens? Why yes, his stalker, er, his creation, shows up!

The creature talks, sounding oddly like Elizabeth when speaking about social order: “I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king.” That natural lord and king being Victor.

At this point, I’ll go on record saying that while I like Victor (really!) I have more sympathy for the creature than for Victor, because the creature did not ask to be made, did not choose his appearance, did not ask to be abandoned. Though, arguably, the monster could have stayed in Victor’s student apartments and it wasn’t so much as Victor abandoning the monster, rather, Victor chose not to pursue him. However you want to characterize Victor’s action, I’m disappointed in him. His running away and avoidance seems both shallow and weak.

Anyway, a lot of ice. Just like at the beginning of the book.

Chapter III

And thus the creature’s tale begins.

The creature’s birth and infancy, as it were, is remembered by him, but not well. Pretty much, he’s a blank slate and begins teaching himself, well, pretty much everything. At this point, the creature is much more admirable because look at all he was doing while, basically, Victor ran away, fell asleep, ran again, and then had a “nervous fever.”

Much as I’m sounding Team Creature, I’m not, totally. Because wow, the creature kind of has it easy, or as easy as a hideous eight foot monster who has just come into existence can have it. He conveniently finds fire, food, etc. 

Aw, the villagers see him and drive him out because he’s so ugly. Sad!

The creature hides in a hovel by a cottage, something so low he cannot even really sit up. He steals bread, he steals a cup, he reinforces his little dwelling, puts some straw on the floor, and is close enough to the chimney in the adjoining cottage to be warm. He’s so happy with so little! It just so happens that there is a boarded up window in the cottage, in the shared wall, so the creature creates a tiny chink in it so he can observe the inhabitants of the cottage.

The creature doesn’t have TV, so instead he watches the inhabitants of the cottage.

Chapter IV

Even though the creature is new born, and has no knowledge of anything, he instinctively is impressed by the “gentle manners” of the three people in the cottage. The creature watches and learns; he even tries to help out with little chores. He begins to learn words. In a way, the creature is a Renesmee. Oh, he doesn’t instagrow because he’s born this size, but he’s learning by leaps and bounds. His learning is especially impressive because it’s self-taught under some pretty dire circumstances. Either he’s highly motivated, or maybe it’s because an adult brain (I assume) was used?

The family next door is a father and two grown children, Felix and Agatha.

And much as I admire the creature’s learning, his observing this family is, well, kinda creepy. Sort of stalkery. A bit obsessive.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

Comments

  1. Annie says:

    “His running away and avoidance seems both shallow and weak.”

    This is why I have a hard time being sympathetic to Victor through most of the novel. Even though I’m not sure what I would do if I created a giant, super-intelligent monster, but I’d hope I’d at least mention it just in case police action needed to be taken, or in case it was scared and alone somewhere. Even creepy stalker creatures need care.

  2. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Annie, I know. I kept thinking of it, almost, as a parent abandoning a child. Then, at one point, I began to see it as Victor’s coming of age. Yes, he’s in his early twenties, but the book is (in part) about Victor taking responsibility for his actions instead of running away.

  3. Sondy says:

    I’ve finally caught up to your last week’s post!

    You know, I’ve got to work harder at getting into the spirit of this book. How did the creature know he was in Frankenstein’s “apartments” at first? Why the heck did he leave them? How did he know what was edible?

    But my biggest obstacle is that he talks exactly like Frankenstein. He made a reference to “Pandemonium” earlier. Has he been spending the last year in deep study?

    But I should stop looking for objections as if it were written today. It’s not up for any awards, so I don’t need to look for flaws. It’s a classic book, already deeply entrenched in our culture. So better for me to look for the universal truths it’s expressing, right? It’s going to take some work for me to really get in the spirit, though I am enjoying reading it. It’s definitely not a bit like I expected it to be.

  4. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Sondy, there were several times where I thought, “really, Mary? really?” in terms of how the creature acted and interacted in the world. I decided part of what may have been going on was that the brain had some memories. I love your observation that his speaking style is like Victor’s.

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