Frankenstein
Mary Shelley
Contributed by Jerrold Mcmenamin
Chapter 24
Summary

His whole family ruined, Victor leaves Geneva with painful memories behind him forever. He searches for the monster for months, taking the help of slight clues, messages and hints that the monster leaves for him. Victor continues his pursuit into the ice of the North. There, he happens to meet Walton and narrates his story to him. He urges Walton to continue his search and take revenge for him after he is dead.

Walton takes control of the narrative in the form of letters to his sister and continues the story. He tells her that he believes in Victor’s story and laments that he did not know Victor, who is on his death bed, in better days. One day, Walton’s crewmen enter his cabin and beg him to promise that they will return to England if they break out of the ice in which they have been stuck ever since they first saw the monster’s sledge. Victor, however, convinces the men that the glory and honor of their quest should motivate them to continue toward their goal. Momentarily, the crew members are moved, but two days later, they again urge Walton, this time he gives in to the crew members' request to return. Victor dies just before the ship is set to head back to England. A few days later, there is a strange sound from the room where Victor’s body is kept. Walton checks for the noise and is shocked to see the monster, as hideous as Victor had described, weeping over his creator’s dead body. The monster narrates all his sufferings to Walton and says that he regrets having become an instrument of evil. Now that his creator dead, he is also ready to die. The monster quietly leaves the ship and vanishes into the darkness.

Analysis

Till this point in the story, Victor has almost morphed into a monster himself. He has all the vices which he accuses of the monster.

Just as the monster used to haunt Victor, seeking revenge from him for leaving him without a mate, Victor now experiences the same obsessiveness in exacting revenge on the monster for ruining his family. Like the monster, he finds himself utterly lonely in this world. He now has nothing but hatred in his heart to survive in this world. Parallels can be drawn with monster’s earlier statements with Victor’s speech now. Illustrating the extent to which Victor has become dehumanized, he says, "I was cursed by some devil and carried about with me my eternal hell". This is the second time an allusion to the passage in Paradise Lost has been made in which Satan, thrown out from Heaven, says that he himself is Hell. The first such allusion was made by the monster after being repulsed by the cottagers: “I, like the arch fiend, bore a hell within me". Fuelled by their hatred, the two monsters — Victor and his creation — drift farther and farther away from human society and sanity.

The final section of the novel, in which Walton takes over the narration of the story, completes the framing narrative.

The explorer's perception of Victor as a great, noble man destroyed by the events described in the story adds to the tragedy in the novel. The technique of framing narratives within narratives allows the reader to hear multiple voices in the novel, more importantly, it provides multiple views of the central characters. Walton sees Frankenstein as a tragic hero; Frankenstein thinks of himself as an overly proud and overly ambitious victim of fate; the monster views Frankenstein as a reckless creator who has ditched his creation. While Walton and Frankenstein consider the monster an evil, the monster pitches himself as a martyred classical hero. “I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames,” he says.

Aptly, the last few pages of the novel deal with the monster, in his own words, as he tries to explain his tragic situation, before leaving for the northern ice to die. By taking control of the narrative from Walton, the brute ensures that, after Victor’s death and his own, the struggle to define who or what the monster really is — Adam or Satan, tragic victim or a villain — continues.

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