Summary and Analysis
The monster begins his own education, reading the books and notes that he found in Victor's jacket in the nearby woods. In the jacket pocket are Milton's Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives of Illustrious Greeks and Romans, and Goethe's Sorrows of Werter. The list is a virtual required reading list of books that are all influenced by the Romantic movement in England.
Plutarch compares and contrasts the lives of Greek and Roman statesmen or soldiers for historical perspective. Goethe's work is a novel of letters written by a youth who is very sensitive and steadfast, who kills himself after being so uncompromising and idealistic. Milton's book is about the creation story and Adam, which causes the monster to question his own creation and place in the world. Finally, the monster discovers Victor's own notebooks, which explain how the monster came into existence. The monster is both intrigued and horrified at learning how he came into existence.
The monster also sees that his "adopted family" is doing better with the arrival of Safie.
The monster notices that all has become better in the cottage with "his family" since Safie has brought some servants and money. Since the cottage dwellers have reduced their stress levels, the monster turns his thoughts inward to ask why he does not have an "Eve"? His readings in Milton have prompted him to want a mate for his own. He says, "no Eve soothed my sorrows nor shared my thoughts; I was alone."
This is a central concern for Mary Shelley's novel. It is a basic tenant of life that humans pair with mates of the same species. But where was a mate for the monster? This is a troubling thought for Shelley, her readers, and her monster character. The monster's lament moves and compels readers. It gives the monster pathos. The reader feels pity and sorrow for this inhuman creature. The reader is privy to his thoughts, cares, and concerns. Seeing the monster as a pitiable character, he deserves the reader's empathy. Shelley strikes this balance between Victor and the monster that both are to be pitied.
The monster wishes to know "his family" better, so he plans to somehow make his presence known to them. He waits for Felix, Agatha, and Safie to leave the elder De Lacey alone before making his entrance. The conversations between the monster and the father go well until the walking party returns. Felix beats the monster, who offers no resistance, and the creature leaves the cottage to return to his hovel.
Constantinople seaport in NW Turkey, now called Instanbul.
condemnation a condemning or being condemned; conviction.
Mont Cenis Alpine pass, in the state of Savoie, in SE France; see also Monte Cenisio, from the Italian.
Leghorn a seaport in Tuscany, western Italy on the Ligurian Sea.
Lyons city in east central France, at the juncture of the Rhine and Sacne rivers.
viands food of various kinds, especially choice dishes.
gesticulations gestures, especially those made with the hands and arms, as in adding nuances or force to one's speech, or as a substitute for speech.
vestige a trace, mark, or sign of something that once existed but has passed away or disappeared.
Jura state of Switzerland; or a mountain range along the border of Switzerland and France.
syndic any of various government officials in some European countries, esp. a civil magistrate or the like.
epithets adjectives, nouns, or phrases which are disparaging remark, used to characterize some person or thing.