Summary and Analysis Chapter 4


Victor thought he was doing a service by creating a new human. He says, "A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption." This goes back to the theme of learning and the use of knowledge for good or evil purposes. This quote also shows insight into Victor's state of mind, how he had built up his own ego thinking that he would be revered by the creature(s) he creates. It makes Victor like a human god.

Victor admonishes his listener by saying "Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the aquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow." Shelley warns her readers about how knowledge can be too much and can cause catastrophic problems. It is this creation of another race of men that Shelley seeks to place in the mind of the reader. It is also now demonstrably clear that death can be conquered, and that man's replacement as God is now complete.

Victor is changing into a different person. His work is taking over his health, even though he knows, "a human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule." But his work is taking over his life, and he knows it. He says, "every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures as if I had been guilty of a crime." The last line in particular, "guilty of a crime," seems important. Victor knows his work on the monster is morally repugnant and that if any person knew of his work, the outside world would be repulsed by the nature of his experiments.


chimera an impossible or foolish fancy.

palpable clear to the mind; obvious; evident; plain.

countenance the look on a person's face that shows one's nature or feelings; the face; facial features; visage; a look of approval on the face, approval; support; sanction; calm control; composure.

charnel-house a building or place where corpses or bones are deposited.

dogmatism dogmatic assertion of opinion, usually without reference to evidence.

pedantry ostentatious display of knowledge, or an instance of this; an arbitrary adherence to rules and forms.

physiognomy facial features and expression, esp. as supposedly indicative of character; the face; apparent characteristics; outward features or appearance.

arduous difficult to do; laborious; onerous; using much energy; strenuous.

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