Summary and Analysis
During Chapters 11-16 the monster is the narrator and begins to tell his tale to Victor. The monster begins his story by recalling his earliest memories and how he came to be. After fleeing the city and villages where he is not welcomed, the monster learns to live in the forest. Food is sometimes stolen, and shelter is scarce. He does manage to find a "hovel" attached to a small cottage. He fashions a way to see into the cottage and begins to observe the life of the De Lacey family — brother Felix, sister Agatha, and their blind father — who lives in the small home.
The monster's beginnings are vague, as are the memories of most adults when they recall their childhood. He learns about his bodily sensations and the strange world around him. How the monster leaves Ingolstadt is not described, but the reader can assume it may be due to the monster's limited sensory abilities during this early period. The monster becomes a vegetarian, living off of the land and the food that he steals from others.
Readers cannot help but be moved by his descriptions of the De Lacey's family life and the monster's reaction to them. Mary Shelley takes pains to develop a full account of the creature's adventures. She describes a pastoral family, living by their own volition, in a plain and simple life. Brother Felix performs outside chores, such as gathering wood for fire, and sister Agatha tends the garden and home. Their father, now blind, is the children's source of joy and inspiration. Shelley makes us want to know this family in all their rustic charm — the kind of people Romantic writers often wrote about and praised.
This small family exhibits the devotion, love, and care that all families should strive to achieve. These simple folk are celebrated in poems like "Michael" by Wordsworth and "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Gray. The Romantics celebrated the common folk in their works. They saw the farmer and the laborer as the best in man. These authors were celebrating not the high aristocrats, most of whom history books are written about, but rather, the man who makes his living simply, while engaged in simple life.
The monster observes the De Lacey family for a long time, careful not to make them aware of his presence. It is a quiet time for the monster and he grows fond of his newly "adopted" family. This is the first time he feels love and he, "felt sensations of a peculiar and overpowering nature; they were a mixture of pain and pleasure, such as I had never before experienced, either from hunger or cold, warmth or food; and I withdrew from the window, unable to bear these emotions." Shelley makes the reader want to see the monster as a maligned creature, worthy of understanding.
hovel a small shed for sheltering animals or storing supplies.
offals refuse; garbage.
Pandemonium the capital of Hell in Milton's Paradise Lost.
tapers wax candles, especially long, slender ones.