Frankenstein By Mary Shelley Summary and Analysis Chapter 8

Summary

The trial for Justine Moritz begins at 11:00 the next morning. Victor suffers silent torture while the entire scene plays out in front of him. Yet, he can do nothing to stop it. Justine carries herself calmly at the trial, answering the charges and getting a sterling defense from Elizabeth. Although Justine proclaims her innocence, she is convicted of the crime. Her sentence is to die by hanging the following day.

Elizabeth and Victor go to see Justine in prison where both learn that Justine had given a false confession under stiff questioning. Justine goes to her death with no fear, leaving Victor to ponder the deaths of two innocent victims.

Analysis

The chapter is a commentary on Mary Shelley 's view of the justice system. In fact, the name Justine is probably word play on "Justice."

Victor is now suffering "living torture" for the consequences of his actions since his university days. He has witnessed how two people close to him die as a result of his actions, the creation of the monster. The trial opens with Justine appearing beautiful and calm, assured of her innocence. The prosecutor presents the evidence of a market woman who placed Justine at the scene of the crime and the picture from the locket given to William.

Justine expresses true remorse for the death of William, proclaims her innocence, and tells of how she became part of the crime scene. Justine tells that she had been visiting in a nearby village, left that house to return home, heard of the search for William, found the gates of Geneva closed, and passed the night in a barn. However, she cannot explain how the locket was placed in her pocket.

In Justine's defense, Elizabeth tells the court of Justine's character and how she doted on young William and the Frankenstein family. Elizabeth's words move the court, and she makes a good witness for Justine's defense. Meanwhile, Victor anguishes at the thought of the monster, the death of William, and the innocence of Justine, by saying "Could the demon who had (I did not for a minute doubt) murdered my brother also in his hellish sport have betrayed the innocent to death and ignominy?" Justine is found guilty through this "wretched mockery of justice," and her sentence is to be carried out the following day.

Visiting Justine in prison, Elizabeth and Victor learn that Justine has given a false confession. She did so thinking that she would not face excommunication from the church and atone for her supposed disgraceful conduct. What is amazing in the ensuing conversation is Justine's claim of innocence and her calm demeanor even in the face of death — in her words, "I do not fear to die, that pang is past." Victor hides in the corner of the prison cell, where he "could conceal the horrid anguish that possessed" him. Justine goes to her death later that day.

Glossary

lassitude state or feeling of being tired and listless; weariness; languor.

languor 1. a lack of vigor or vitality; weakness. 2. a lack of interest or spirit; feeling of listlessness; indifference. 3. the condition of being still, sluggish, or dull.

florins a British coin originally equal to two shillings: coinage discontinued in 1971.

pertinacity the quality or condition of being pertinacious; stubborn persistence; obstinacy.

vacillating wavering or tending to waver in motion, opinion, etc.

mien a way of carrying and conducting oneself; manner.

antipathy strong or deep-rooted dislike; aversion.

perambulations walks, strolls, etc.

league distance of about 3 miles or 4.8 kilometers.

ignominy loss of one's reputation; shame and dishonor; infamy.

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