Summary and Analysis
Victor finds no relief at the end of Justine's trial. Haunted by the thoughts of how he ruined so many lives, he cannot sleep or rest. He sinks into a deep depression from which he cannot escape. He tries boating on Lake Geneva and a trip into the Swiss Mountains. He escapes to the Chamounix valley region to rest and recover his senses.
Victor suffers from a deep depression, almost like a relapse to his previous attack in Ingolstadt after he created the monster. His father sees his son's anguish and comments that it seems that Victor is suffering too much. Alphonse does not know what Victor has created and endured for six years, including recent events. Alphonse tells Victor that he owes himself to seek out happiness "for excessive sorrow prevents improvement or enjoyment, or even the discharge of daily usefulness, without which no man is fit for society."
Victor seeks refuge in boating on nearby Lake Geneva. As a means of easing his pain, he even considers suicide by plunging "into the silent lake." His conversation with Elizabeth shows that even she is changed by the murder of William and conviction of Justine, that she is no longer the same and she sees injustice as part of her world. Victor admits that he is the murderer, and the thought troubles him deeply. She finds Victor's despair a bit too much and wonders about his sanity. Victor hopes that these murders will be the last. Ironically, these killings are only the beginning of the misery that Victor must endure. Also, it is ironic that Victor thinks about ending his life, when just a few years earlier he was determined to create life and dispel death.
To ease his troubled mind, Victor undertakes a tour of the nearby Chamounix valley, France. He hopes that a rest and vacation will do him good. The visit is characteristic of Romantic thought in that nature can restore and refresh the soul. Victor mentions the Arve River, "ruined castles," and the "sublime Alps" as a backdrop to begin his current healing. Mary Shelley delves into a description of Victor's depression and despair; depression and despair are both popular topics of Romantic writers. Also, the restorative and healing powers of nature come through when she describes scenes of beauty and majesty that transport the soul to another place and time. This section of the novel is a prose version of Percy Shelley's poem "Mont Blanc." Percy Shelley also mentions these same points of interest and speaks to the beauty of Mont Blanc, one of the highest peaks in the Alps.
Shelley describes Nature, who has winds that "whispered in soothing accents," like a caring mother who tells Victor to "weep no more." With his senses overwhelmed by all that he has been through, Victor throws himself to the ground and weeps bitterly. Upon arrival in the town of Chamounix, he rents a room, watches a storm play upon the summit of Mont Blanc, and falls down asleep, finally resting and beginning his recuperation.
Mont Blanc mountain in E. France, on the Italian border: highest peak in the Alps.
Chamounix valley in E. France, north of Mont Blanc: a resort area of the French Alps.
epoch a period of time considered in terms of noteworthy and characteristic events, developments, persons, etc.
precipices a vertical, almost vertical, or overhanging rock faces; steep cliffs.
omnipotence the state or quality of having unlimited power or authority; an omnipotent force; God.
aiguilles a peak of rock shaped like a needle.