Frankenstein By Mary Shelley Summary and Analysis Letter 4 - To Mrs. Saville, England

Victor calls his best friend, Henry Clerval, a "wonderful man." He finds that Henry has a quality "that elevates him so immeasurably above any other person I ever knew." Henry also has "a quick but never-failing power of judgement" and "a voice whose varied intonations are soul-subduing music."

Victor sees the monster as his equal; he is even perhaps his superior, in every way. Perhaps this discussion is symbolic of the dichotomy of man. How can two equal halves of the human soul co-exist; that is, can good and evil co-exist in the same man? Can one half of a relationship be good and the other bad? ">Mary Shelley 's answer is found in the novel.

From a Freudian viewpoint, Victor is the id, the one who acts out his sexual and aggressive natures by seeking to become God. The monster represents the ego, which must work with the demands of the real world and how he comes to terms with societal rejection. Walton could be seen as the superego, or the conscience that regulates acceptable and unacceptable behavior. The three characters symbolize the struggle of man and his conscience with the good and the bad, the learned and the ignorant.

The August 19 letter has Victor beginning to tell his tale, and he emerges as the main narrator. He takes over fully telling the tale in Chapter 1. He cautions Walton against seeking knowledge too earnestly because of the results it may have. This caution is akin to the concept in ">Romanticismwhere the use of technology in the Industrial Age can lead to disaster, if not properly checked by man. Victor advises Walton that "I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to you, as mine has been."

Victor prepares Walton, and the reader, for what is to come by saying, "Prepare to hear of occurrences which are usually deemed marvelous." Victor further advises the reader to suspend his disbelief, because "things will appear possible in these wild and mysterious regions which would provoke the laughter of those unacquainted with the ever-varied powers of nature." He sees his only salvation being to "repose in peace." Resigned to this hard and fast fact, he foresees a coming confrontation with his creation, the monster.

Glossary

pole the North Pole.

under-mate second mate, or second officer in command of a ship.

fortnight two weeks, or a two-week period of time.

capacious able to contain or hold much; roomy; spacious.

fosterage promoting, stimulating, or encouraging.

suppliant a person who supplicates; petitioner.

merchantman ship that carries commercial goods and passengers, not a warship.

paroxysm a sudden outburst as of laughter, rage, or sneezing; fit; spasm.

Back to Top

Take the Quiz

How old is Walton at the beginning of the story?




Quiz