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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; chapters I to IV.

Chapter V

Wait, there is something new! Someone new! A pretty woman is visiting! An Arabian named Safie! This was totally not in the movies! Or if it was I don’t remember!

For some reason, this family is teaching the Arabian their language, including how to read, write, and spell, so, of course, the creature learns, also.

Huh. Imagine what this means for education! Forget classrooms. Just put the student in the room next door, not even able to sit up straight, with just a chink the size of an eye, and you, too, can learn how to read, write, and speak fluent French. It’s the Frankenstein Charter School!

Why these random poor people in a cottage are teaching Safie I have no idea. But how lucky for our creature!

Also, the creature is naturally drawn to the good: “I admired virtue and good feelings, and loved the gentle manners and amiable qualities in my cottagers.”

“MY” cottagers? Obsessive stalker, I’m telling you.

Chapter VI

Oh, good, we learn more about the cottagers. The old man is De Lacey, and they used to live in France and they used to be rich and….

Oh.

Of course, one couldn’t have real cottagers be of such gentle manners and good qualities. Of course, they aren’t real farmers, or real people of the lower orders. It’s almost like, “hey, for these people to be good,  of course they used to be a higher class.”

Back to the backstory. So, back when they were rich, and in France, they had a friend who was a Mahometan, a Turkish merchant. This Mahometan had married a Christian woman and had a daughter, Safie. The French persecuted the Turk because he wasn’t French and wasn’t Christian, but the DeLaceys helped him, in return for Safie marrying Felix, but Felix is a good guy who totally wouldn’t make her do that, but it’s OK because they fall in love anyway. And then there is soap opera-ish double dealings and double crossings and betrayal and lost fortunes and running away, and long story short, the DeLaceys lost everything and have to live in this cottage. Safie just escaped her mean father to reunite with her true love Felix. Everyone is very refined, not like those other poor people. Oh, you good, noble, selfless, really rich people!

Well, at least this explains who the hell Safie is and why this group of cottagers is helping her. It wasn’t just another random coincidence. I’m not sure the point of this tale: true love (Felix and Agatha) triumphs? Prejudice (against the Turk, the Turk against Felix) is bad?

Chapter VII

Frankenstein Charter School continues, with the creature’s mad genius skills. He’s now reading three books he just happened upon: Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, and the Sorrows of Werther. No silly ABCs or baby books for him!

The creature begins to think, “who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?” Meanwhile, I begin to think, imagine if Frankenstein hadn’t run away from him (not once, but twice) but instead taught him. Because if this is self-taught, wow, imagine the lost potential!

While the creature has acquired other clothes, he still has the ones he took from Victor that first night. And, guess what is in the pocket of Victor’s coat? Guess! Guess! Guess!

No, not a ring.

A diary. Victor’s diary of the months leading up to the creation. Yes, Victor had time to run away, write “I hate my monster, he’s ugly,” put it in his jacket pocket, then fall asleep.

Remember how I said the creature was being all creepy about “my” cottagers? Well, he’s at it again. He’s all “when they should become acquainted with my admiration of their virtues, they would compassionate me, and overlook my personal deformity.” He’s a total stalker fan, who knows every little detail about their lives and becomes convinced they are his BFFs even though they don’t even know he exists. I’m wondering if this was based on any stalker fans of Byron and Shelley (cough Claire Claremont cough). Much as I like the creature’s intellect, and what he’s accomplished, I’m sorry, this “they will be my friends” is wrong, wrong, wrong.  (You don’t know who Claire is? I’m afraid if I link to more information, you’ll spend all your time reading about her and never come back.)

Where does the creature go to the bathroom?

How can he, at 8 feet, live next door to them for years and nobody know?

Did I mention the father, the old man, was blind? So the creature’s not-awful but still really stupid plan is to approach the blind guy first, because he won’t run away screaming.

At first, all works according to plan because blind guy doesn’t run away screaming. The two have a nice chat, until Felix, Agatha, and Safie come home. Guess what?

Do they say, “hey, you, stay and be a member of our family!”

No. They freak out, Agatha faints, Safie runs away, and Felix rushes to protect his father. The monster runs away . . . . to the hovel next door. Unseen.

Chapter VIII

The DeLaceys are leaving forever; the creature learns this when he hears Felix talking to someone. Wouldn’t you love to know their side of this story?

Two choices: what does a sane person do in this situation? What does a stalker do?

The creature picks — the stalker solution. “Revenge and hatred filled my bosom.” So, of course, he destroys their garden and burns down their cottage, then heads to Geneva looking for Victor.

The more deeply did I feel the spirit of revenge enkindled in my heart.” Creature, you want revenge? Talk to Amanda-Emily over on Revenge. Now there is a girl who understands revenge.

His misfortunes continue: he saves a girl from drowning, and it’s taken to be an attack so he is shot at. Poor monster! Now he is also shot in the shoulder. Victor did a pretty good job at creating him, though, because no infection!

And now he’s in Geneva. So guess what? He sees  a “beautiful child” and decides the only logical thing to do is to kidnap the child to make the child be his friend.

Right.

Monster is crazy.

He’s thinking, “oh, this child is too young to run screaming from me in terror.” And in a way he’s right, as the child doesn’t run away. Except the monster is also wrong, in that the child does, in fact, scream in terror. Monster grabs child, and the child, being a child, “monster! ugly wretch!” and “let me go, or I will tell my papa.” Gotta  love kids. Child, if he doesn’t let you go, how will you tell your papa?

The creature’s reassuring response fails to reassure or to cause the boy to look beyond his ugly facade to see the smart, caring person behind it: “Boy, you will never see your father again; you must come with me.”

So the child responds: ”Hideous monster! let me go; My papa is a Syndic -  he is M. Frankenstein – he would punish you. You dare not keep me.”

And with that, William – c’mon, you figured that out – seals his fate. He has given his last name.

Europe was small back then, what with all these coincidences of people meeting up randomly. We know this is William and is indeed Victor’s family, but what if this was not the same Frankenstein family?

So, the monster kills William, but tells us (or, rather, Victor) in a way that seems to avoid responsibility. He admits that “you shall be my first victim” but explains the killing as “I grasped his throat to silence him, and in a moment he lay dead at my feet.” Still, it’s pretty clear it was intentional and the creature is happy.

Also, the monster takes the miniature. He later sees Justine walking through the forest and “I approached her unperceived, and placed the portrait securely in one of the folds of her dress.”

An eight foot ugly giant just reverse pickpocketed Justine and she never noticed. (The 1831 edition changes this to Justine being asleep in a barn when the creature does this.)

The monster recounts all this to Victor, ending with how lonely and unhappy he is and how only one thing will make him happy: Victor must create a female companion for him.

Chapter IX

Victor says no. Creating one wicked creature was bad enough, but two? No, no, no.

The creature is eloquent in his arguments: “I am malicious because I am miserable.” “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.” “What I ask of you is reasonable.”

Victor is listening; and whether he is swayed by the arguments, or has other motivations, he begins to consider the request. “There was some justice in his argument.”

The creature continues, explaining the two would run away to South America and hide out and not bother anyone.

The creature truly believes love of a companion – loving and being loved – will solve all his problems.

Victor considers it all, and agrees. He will make a female creature.

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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. Sondy says:

    I need to read faster. This is nothing at all like I expected Frankenstein to be. Granted, my idea of the book was pretty much from Saturday morning cartoon parodies. It’s starting to seem a teeny-tiny bit more plausible. Now they’ve thrown in some reasons why he could find Frankenstein. Pretty slim coincidence about killing William, but it’s a teeny-tiny bit more likely now.

    It would be interesting for a modern writer to write a book about creating life but try to take out the coincidences. (You’d almost have to have Frankenstein not run away.) I wonder if anyone’s done that.

  2. Angela Carstensen Liz B says:

    Sondy, poor Frankenstein with his always running away. And yes, there is coincidence after coincidence that I don’t think many current editors would leave untouched.

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