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Chapter II.

Published onJun 17, 2019
Chapter II.

Chapter II.

The next day, contrary to the prognostications of our guides, was fine, although clouded. We visited the source of the Arveiron, and rode about the valley until evening. These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving. They elevated me from all littleness of feeling; and although they did not remove my grief, they subdued and tranquillized it. In some degree, also, they diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it had brooded for the last month. I returned in the evening, fatigued, but less unhappy, and conversed with my family with more cheerfulness than had been my custom for some time. My father was pleased, and Elizabeth overjoyed. “My dear cousin,” said she, “you see what happiness you diffuse when you are happy; do not relapse again!”

The following morning the rain poured down in torrents, and thick mists hid the summits of the mountains. I rose early, but felt unusually melancholy. The rain depressed me; my old feelings recurred, and I was miserable. I knew how disappointed my father would be at this sudden change, and I wished to avoid him until I had recovered myself so far as to be enabled to conceal those feelings that overpowered me. I knew that they would remain that day at the inn; and as I had ever inured myself to rain, moisture, and cold, I resolved to go alone to the summit of Montanvert. I remembered the effect that the view of the tremendous and ever-moving glacier had produced upon my mind when I first saw it. It had then filled me with a sublime ecstacy that gave wings to the soul, and allowed it to soar from the obscure world to light and joy. The sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing my mind, and causing me to forget the passing cares of life. I determined to go alone, for I was well acquainted with the path, and the presence of another would destroy the solitary grandeur of the scene.

The ascent is precipitous, but the path is cut into continual and short windings, which enable you to surmount the perpendicularity of the mountain. It is a scene terrifically desolate. In a thousand spots the traces of the winter avalanche may be perceived, where trees lie broken and strewed on the ground; some entirely destroyed, others bent, leaning upon the jutting rocks of the mountain, or transversely upon other trees. The path, as you ascend higher, is intersected by ravines of snow, down which stones continually roll from above; one of them is particularly dangerous, as the slightest sound, such as even speaking in a loud voice, produces a concussion of air sufficient to draw destruction upon the head of the speaker. The pines are not tall or luxuriant, but they are sombre, and add an air of severity to the scene. I looked on the valley beneath; vast mists were rising from the rivers which ran through it, and curling in thick wreaths around the opposite mountains, whose summits were hid in the uniform clouds while rain poured from the dark sky, and added to the melancholy impression I received from the objects around me. Alas! why does man boast of sensibilities superior to those apparent in the brute; it only renders them more necessary beings. If our impulses were confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might be nearly free; but now we are moved by every wind that blows, and a chance word or scene that that wind may convey to us.

We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.

We rise; one wand’ring thought pollutes the day.

We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh, or weep,

Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;

It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow,

The path of its departure still is free.

Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;

Nought may endure but mutability!

It was nearly noon when I arrived at the top of the ascent. For some time I sat upon the rock that overlooks the sea of ice. A mist covered both that and the surrounding mountains. Presently a breeze dissipated the cloud, and I descended upon the glacier. The surface is very uneven, rising like the waves of a troubled sea, descending low, and interspersed by rifts that sink deep. The field of ice is almost a league in width, but I spent nearly two hours in crossing it. The opposite mountain is a bare perpendicular rock. From the side where I now stood Montanvert was exactly opposite, at the distance of a league; and above it rose Mont Blanc, in awful majesty. I remained in a recess of the rock, gazing on this wonderful and stupendous scene. The sea, or rather the vast river of ice, wound among its dependent mountains, whose aerial summits hung over its recesses. Their icy and glittering peaks shone in the sunlight over the clouds. My heart, which was before sorrowful, now swelled with something like joy; I exclaimed—“Wandering spirits, if indeed ye wander, and do not rest in your narrow beds, allow me this faint happiness, or take me, as your companion, away from the joys of life.”

As I said this, I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man. I was troubled: a mist came over my eyes, and I felt a faintness seize me; but I was quickly restored by the cold gale of the mountains. I perceived, as the shape came nearer, (sight tremendous and abhorred!) that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trembled with rage and horror, resolving to wait his approach, and then close with him in mortal combat. He approached; his countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes. But I scarcely observed this; anger and hatred had at first deprived me of utterance, and I recovered only to overwhelm him with words expressive of furious detestation and contempt.

“Devil!” I exclaimed, “do you dare approach me? and do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! or rather stay, that I may trample you to dust! and, oh, that I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!”

“I expected this reception,” said the dæmon. “All men hate the wretched; how then must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.”

“Abhorred monster! fiend that thou art! the tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil! you reproach me with your creation; come on then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed.”

My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the feelings which can arm one being against the existence of another.

He easily eluded me, and said,

“Be calm! I entreat you to hear me, before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine; my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other, and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Every where I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”

“Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies. Begone, or let us try our strength in a fight, in which one must fall.”

“How can I move thee? Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion? Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow-beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness. Yet it is in your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it only remains for you to make so great, that not only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be moved, and do not disdain me. Listen to my tale: when you have heard that, abandon or commiserate me, as you shall judge that I deserve. But hear me. The guilty are allowed, by human laws, bloody as they may be, to speak in their own defence before they are condemned. Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man! Yet I ask you not to spare me: listen to me; and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy the work of your hands.”

“Why do you call to my remembrance circumstances of which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author? Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you! You have made me wretched beyond expression. You have left me no power to consider whether I am just to you, or not. Begone! relieve me from the sight of your detested form.”

“Thus I relieve thee, my creator,” he said, and placed his hated hands before my eyes, which I flung from me with violence; “thus I take from thee a sight which you abhor. Still thou canst listen to me, and grant me thy compassion. By the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you. Hear my tale; it is long and strange, and the temperature of this place is not fitting to your fine sensations; come to the hut upon the mountain. The sun is yet high in the heavens; before it descends to hide itself behind yon snowy precipices, and illuminate another world, you will have heard my story, and can decide. On you it rests, whether I quit for ever the neighbourhood of man, and lead a harmless life, or become the scourge of your fellow-creatures, and the author of your own speedy ruin.”

As he said this, he led the way across the ice: I followed. My heart was full, and I did not answer him; but, as I proceeded, I weighed the various arguments that he had used, and determined at least to listen to his tale. I was partly urged by curiosity, and compassion confirmed my resolution. I had hitherto supposed him to be the murderer of my brother, and I eagerly sought a confirmation or denial of this opinion. For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness. These motives urged me to comply with his demand. We crossed the ice, therefore, and ascended the opposite rock. The air was cold, and the rain again began to descend: we entered the hut, the fiend with an air of exultation, I with a heavy heart, and depressed spirits. But I consented to listen; and, seating myself by the fire which my odious companion had lighted, he thus began his tale.

Sarah Nove:

The beginning of this paragraph always strikes me as one of saddest portions of the book. The monster’s pleas for “compassion” and his lamentation of his isolation make readers sympathize with him, despite the atrocities he committed to Victor’s loved ones. I think it is particularly interesting that Shelley put so much effort into creating a villain who seems to want so badly to be anything but a villain. In addition to that, Victor is a hero who isn’t very good at being heroic. I love that Shelley tosses away the black and white good/bad guys trope, and instead paints every character in shades of gray.

Cole Richards:

Group 11 (Cole, Grant, Rachel, Edgar)

Reading this quote through the lens of acceptance we determined that the path or journey of any person has many hardships and trials throughout life. This can be visualized as a physical obstacle such as a winding mountain pass, that as you journey higher you encounter more trials. Just as you grow older you encounter more trials. As for looking at this quote through the lens of acceptance, we are forced to accept the hardships and to move on and grow. The process of recognition and acceptance is the path to growing as a person as seen throughout this story.

Natasha Cole:

The sublime refers to anything that excites a person or that fills their senses. He was entranced by his surroundings and it allowed him to momentarily forget the troubles he was experiencing.

Natasha Cole:


Christopher Tran:

Victor immediately perceives his creation as evil because of its form and actions and because of that, he does not give the creature a chance to prove itself or its worth

Ling Shan Tan:

I agree with your point of view. Instead of Victor welcoming his creation, he scorned him instead.

+ 1 more...
Aric Maiden:

Montanvert was the common name at the time for Mer de Glacé, which lost 700 million cubic meters of ice from 1939 to 2001 and is now barely visible from below. Chamonix was becoming a popular tourist attraction in the early 1800s, and hosted the first Winter Olympics in 1924.

Millie Lopez:

The creature had presented Victor with an ultimatum. It seems to be partly coming from the creature's own desire to have Victor sympathize with him. As long as he is heard then he is willing to let Victor kill him- to do whatever he wants with him. The creature is fully aware of Victor's hatred towards him. The creature wanting to be heard out is similar to Justine and her desire to have her love one's know she is innocent. However, considering the end of the story, Victor probably won't give him a chance.

Justice Arellano:

This is a biblical reference in which the creation confronts Victor. Frankenstein played “God” in the sense that he created life; however, God was proud of his creation, Adam, and welcomed him to the world. Frankenstein on the other hand, immediately turned his creation away, disgusted in what he'd created. The “fallen angel” references Lucifer and how he was banished from God's kingdom. The creation describes himself in this way I because he was banished from his “God's” kingdom.

Eva Toledo:

Dr. Frankenstein is disappointed with the creatures creation and wishes to kill him. However, if he hadn’t felt the need to go against the laws of nature and bring back the dead, Victor would never have had to deal with the death of his brother or any struggle that came along with the existence of the monster.

Adrian Diaz:

Here is it noted that Dr. Frankenstein takes responsibility for his actions in opposition to the distribution of blame readers have seen him previously partake in. A level of self-awareness exist as seen through the parenthetical sidebar where Frankenstein understands that he is now experiencing the consequences of his own actions.

Stephan Breit:

Alienation can lead to a disconnect from society and emotional trauma that can end in drastic measures. In the book, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, Frankenstein's monster is neglected out of fear from the beginning of his existence, and by everyone he meets. People that are smarter are typically withdrawn and lack the emotional connection with others. If people were to get advanced intelligence implemented, do you believe that they would turn out with the same neglect-leads to anger that the monster did?

Christopher Saenz:

I believe that prolonged alienation could potentially lead to madness. We can see this shown in Frankenstein, as the monster feels alienated from his creator. This leads to the monster becoming consumed with anguish as Victor Frankenstein condemns him to an existence with only itself to relate to. Connecting it with modern life, we can see a loose similarity to this relationship with the impersonalization of the modern work environment. The modernization of the workforce led to the creation of the factory job, an incredibly tedious and harsh line of work which provides both little social interaction and little care for one’s well being. Alienation in the real world can have incredibly negative effects on one’s mind, pushing some to depression or other demons. Moving forward, we can potentially see this impersonalization become normal with the increase of office work. Physical pain becomes monotony with the same pitfalls of mental torment.

Health & MedicineScienceTechnology
Frankenbook Editor:

“Human beings have always yearned to better themselves—to rise beyond nature’s lottery. We are so immersed in our modern enhancements that we are often oblivious to them. LASIK surgeries (or glasses, for that matter!), cochlear implants, plastic surgeries, and birth-control pills are all examples of things we do to overcome what we perceive as our natural limitations. But what gets people really wound up is the idea of genetic enhancement—improving traits by changing the genes inside of us.

“We can define genetic enhancement as the manipulation of one’s genome to modify a non-pathological feature. So if I take a gene or a set of genes known to make Usain Bolt the fastest man alive and add them to myself, I am genetically enhancing myself. However, in reality, enhancements are much more complicated than just replacing a few genes.”

Want to learn more about human enhancement and unintended consequences? Read the complete essay by Alireza Edraki, PhD candidate at the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.

Health & MedicinePhilosophy & PoliticsScienceTechnology
Frankenbook Editor:

The creature understands his physical superiority to Victor as an artificial and designed being, but he defers to the social norms established and shared by humans, like the relationship between lord and vassal, each with their own duties. Biomedical devices, including eyewear, synthetic joints, and advanced prosthetics, have improved and enhanced human life for decades. But as these technologies begin delivering extended lifespans and vastly improved physical performance, societies will be challenged to evolve to accommodate changing notions of humanity.  

Want to learn more about philosophical and ethical debates around human enhancement? Watch “Better Humans,” featuring commentary from Braden Allenby, an engineer, technology ethicist, and environmental attorney at Arizona State University, and Conor Walsh, a biomedical engineer at Harvard University.

Watch more episodes of our Reanimation! series on our Media page.

Philosophy & PoliticsTechnology
Sean A Hays:

The concept of murder functions like a central litmus test here and throughout the novel. On the one hand, if you see Victor’s creation as a person, then Victor is countenancing murder as he seeks to destroy his creation. Indeed, it would become very difficult to make a moral distinction between Victor and the creature if this were the case. On the other hand, if the creature is a beast, a piece of property, or a daemon (as Victor often calls him), then it is not possible to murder him because he is not a person. During slavery, this question arose on a number of occasions. Could an owner be prosecuted for murdering a piece of property? The question was highly politicized because to charge an owner with murdering a slave would be to acknowledge the slave’s humanity and thus to call into question the entire institution of slavery. Even if the creature in Mary’s tale is not human, however, his destruction may still have moral implications for other reasons, but Victor would not be guilty of murder, and the creature would have committed a crime Victor was himself not guilty of. Mary appears to have anticipated by two centuries one of the central ethical concerns of robotics and artificial intelligence. How sophisticated would an artificial intelligence have to be before it could be murdered? If it can be murdered, do we then have to face the issue of its enslavement?

Philosophy & Politics
Nicole Piemonte:

Though this work well predates such existential writers as Albert Camus (1913–1960) and John Paul Sartre (1905–1980), Mary’s narrative grapples with many of the same issues, including feelings of anguish and meaninglessness, especially in the face of suffering and human finitude. Much like the existentialists, who acknowledged the absurdity of making sense of life in a godless world, Victor’s creation lives a life full of anguish and isolation, and he has no creator to whom he can turn for answers or consolation. And yet the creation still sees life as “dear” and chooses to “defend it” in spite of this endless misery, a point echoed by the existentialists nearly a century later, who emphasized both the absurdity and the beauty in choosing to continue to live in the face of suffering. Mere existence, in this sense, becomes a form of resistance or rebellion against meaninglessness and our unyielding trajectory toward death. For more on existentialism, see Aho 2014.

Mary ShelleyMotivations & SentimentsPhilosophy & Politics
Sean A Hays:

Elizabeth attempts to console Victor with the thought of returning to live together in Geneva, unchanging and undisturbed in their peace and bliss. Mary borrows a verse from her husband, Percy, to remind us that this is a fool’s errand. Nostalgia for a past both perfect and peaceful is a product of willful forgetting. First, we must forget all those elements of the past that were not peaceful and perfect. Our memory of the past is edited to make it seem preferable to the uncertainties of the present and future. Second, we must make ourselves forget that we are part of a system governed by change in net linear direction. The long arc of history bends toward change, and it is not possible to remove from the world the science and technology we have already introduced and thus return the world to a peaceful but primeval state. It is, therefore, incumbent upon scientists and engineers to think about how their work is embodied in the world and how the world is changed as a result.

Health & MedicinePhilosophy & Politics
Ben Minteer:

The idea that exposure to nature (or “scenery”) produces unique psychological and spiritual benefits was a common sentiment in romantic literary and artistic circles in the nineteenth century. Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882) and Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862), both part of the tradition of American romanticism known as transcendentalism, celebrated in their writings the value of a life lived close to nature, especially its salutary effect on the poetic and moral imagination. This romantic notion of nature as “balm” would also influence the rise of the urban parks movement, most notably via the work of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted (1822–1903) in the mid–nineteenth century. Olmsted’s plan for Manhattan’s Central Park, for example, was premised on the idea that contemplation of natural scenery had a therapeutic effect on city dwellers. (This view endures today in the concept of “biophilia,” the idea that humans are genetically predisposed to love nature and need regular contact with it to thrive.) The romantic understanding of the value of natural scenery was bound up with a pair of distinct aesthetic categories: the “sublime,” which referred to feelings of awe and even fear in the face of nature’s power and wildness, and the “picturesque,” which described the contemplative reaction to a more orderly and human-scaled natural landscape (e.g., the garden motif shaping Olmsted’s Central Park design). The notion of the sublime would play a major role in American wilderness appreciation (and eventually protection) throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, animating the work of a diverse community of artists, writers, and advocates, including Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902), John Muir (1838–1914), Ansel Adams (1902–1984), and David Brower (1912–2000).