Summary and Analysis
Victor takes a tour of a nearby mountain and glacier on Mount Montanvert to refresh his tortured soul. While on the glacier, the monster confronts his maker. Victor seems ready to engage in a combat to the death, but the monster convinces Victor to listen to his story. The two go to the monster's squalid hut on the mountain, and the monster begins to tell his tale.
Victor describes the area near Chamounix and the glaciers that were in the higher elevations. He comments on how nature will sooth his pain, "They elevated me from all littleness of feeling, and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillised it." He found peace in nature and finds the scenery comforting. This is an extension of the same idea from Chapter 9, that nature has the ability to restore and heal.
A storm arises from the mountain below him. Again Mary Shelley is setting the scene for the events to come. The storm comes in, and the reader anticipates something is going to happen. This could possibly signal a confrontation with the monster, because throughout the book, Shelley has used the weather as a signal.
Victor describes a desolate scene, filled with ice, snow, and rocks, that parallels the descriptions of the North Pole earlier in the novel. There is always the possibility of an avalanche, a thought that appeals to Victor. Perhaps the avalanche, through nature, will assist Victor in getting rid of the monster or his own troubles.
It is noon when he arrives on the top of the mountain, when he sees "the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed." Feeling rage and contempt for the creature, Victor says he could "close with him in mortal combat." Victor tells the monster to "begone" or "stay, that I may trample you to death."
The monster pleads with Victor to be allowed to tell his side of the story. The creature asks that he be made a happy and docile being once again. He pleads, "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." In these lines, Shelley alludes to the Biblical creation story of Adam and to Milton's Paradise Lost. The monster likens himself to Adam, the first human created in the Bible. He also speaks of himself as a "fallen angel," much like Satan in Paradise Lost. In the Biblical story, Adam goes against God by eating an apple from the tree and even though He banishes Adam from Eden, He doesn't speak harshly of Adam. However, the monster seems sinned against, hated by Victor, feared by society, and banished, and thus murders to get back at his God.
The Romantic Movement espoused the idea that man is born good, but it is society and other pressures that create an evil man. Victor even says "I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness." Thus, Victor and his views on the monster correlate to this Romantic viewpoint.
The monster speaks eloquently enough to convince Victor to calm down and hear his case. He asks that Victor hear his "long and strange" tale. Convinced that they should settle this feud between them amicably, Victor follows the creature to a small hut where they pass an entire afternoon together in conversation. The monster is not what one would expect. Not only is he eloquent and educated, he speaks of being loved and wanting love. And Victor, at this point, is the opposite in that he can only think of hatred for the monster. Thus, Shelley makes the monster a sympathetic creature, not a horrid one.
Arveiron Val d'Aosta region of NW Italy on the Dora Baltea River.
pinnacle a pointed formation, as at the top of a mountain; peak.
Montanvert fictitious mountain, possibly near Mont Blanc, translated means"Green Mountain."
precipitous steep like a precipice; sheer; having precipices.