Summary and Analysis Chapter 13



The monster relates how Felix reunites with his lost love, Safie, a woman of Turkish descent. Felix had rescued Safie's father from death in France and had placed her in the protection of a convent of nuns. She arrives in Germany just barely literate. Felix is overjoyed to see her again. Safie makes an earnest attempt to learn the De Lacey's language, which benefits the monster in learning a language as well. While listening to the conversations in the house, the monster gets a brief but memorable lesson in the history of Europe. Content in his hiding place, he calls the De Lacey family his "protectors."


Mary Shelley advances two concepts in this chapter that are central to the novel: one is the use of knowledge for good purposes, to know the world around you; and, the second is to question the essence of man's good and evil tendencies.

Shelley wonders how man can be forever changed by the simple act of acquiring information about his world. How can we as learned humans forever change the nature of man? Can learning be undone or is it permanent once learned:"Of what a strange nature is knowledge? It clings to the mind when it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock." This again is the "use of knowledge for good purposes" concept.

Shelley seeks to find out how man is a paradox of contrasts:"Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike." She is questioning the existence of good and evil present in all men. This is a concept that crops up from the story of Adam in the Bible and one of the questions posed by Milton in Paradise Lost.

Also, Shelley causes the monster to question his own creation. He realizes that he is different and does not fit into society, a thought that terrifies him. He seeks to rationalize his being, meanwhile answering his doubts with answers:"Of my creator I was absolutely ignorant, but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no property. I was not even of the same nature as man." The monster must wonder, "where do I belong in the scheme of life, with men or among the animals?" Furthermore, who were his family and did he have a mother or father? These questions serve to fuel his inquisitive instincts. Only through Victor can some of his doubts be answered.

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