Mary Shelley
Contributed by Jerrold Mcmenamin
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Chapter 9-10

Summary: Chapter 9

After Justine’s execution, Victor becomes increasingly melancholic. He thinks of committing suicide but restrains himself by thinking of Elizabeth and his father. Hoping to cheer up his son, father Alphonse, takes his children on an excursion to their family home at Belrive. There, Victor strays alone toward the valley of Chamounix. The beautiful scenery cheers him up but this respite from grief turns out to be short-lived.

Summary: Chapter 10

One a rainy day, Victor wakes up to find himself caught in an old feeling of despair. He decides to travel up to the summit of Montanvert. Being a naturalist, he hopes to revive his spirits with a view of natural scenery. When he reaches at the top of the glacier, he momentarily forgets everything and is immersed in the sublime spectacle. As he crosses to the other side of the glacier, Victor sees a creature leaping toward him at an incredible speed. When it comes closer, he can clearly make out that it is the same grotesque fiend. Victor threatens to attack the monster but his enormous strength and speed is nowhere within his creator's grasped. Victor curses him and tells him to go away, but the creature eloquently persuades him to come to a fire place in an ice cave. There, the monster begins to narrate the events of his life.


These chapters describe some of the most explicit imagery of the sublime nature as its powerful influence on Victor comes to the fore. The natural world has a big effect on Victor’s mood. He is elated in the presence of scenic beauty and is in despair in its absence. Nature makes him joyful, but, it also reminds him of his guilt, shame and regret. “The rain depressed me; my old feelings recurred, and I was miserable,” he says. Shelley aligns Victor with the Romantic Movement of late 18th century to mid 19th century in Europe. It stresses on man's return to the lap of nature for sublime experience, to experience the feelings of awe, hope and ecstasy first hand.

Victor’s affinity to nature is significant because of the monster’s ties to nature. Both Victor and the monster are distinctly at home in nature but unnatural almost by definition. The creature becomes a symbol of Victor’s folly in trying to subvert the nature. The creature goes through a remarkable change in these chapters. From a mysterious, grotesque, and physical being, it now becomes a verbal, emotional, sensitive and almost human-like figure that describes his past to Victor in eloquent terms. This transformation is important for bringing in the fuller import of Victor's senseless act. Earlier, it was about the physical strength and apparent ill-will of the monster that made him such a threat, now it is his intellect. The monster realises the tragedy of his existence and his abandonment by his creator, so, he is out to seek either redress or revenge.

For the first time, Victor realises that what he has created is not just a scientific product of an experiment in animated matter but an actual living being with needs and wants. While Victor curses the monster as a demon, the monster responds to his creator's coarseness with eloquence and sensitivity. He almost behaves like an educated, emotional human being. The monster’s demonic image, in the reader’s imagination and exaggerated by Victor’s bias, is in stark contrast to his moving words and helplessness. For the reader, whose experience with the monster’s ugliness is secondhand, it is easy to identify the human feelings within him and sympathise with his plight. Victor’s relentless contempt for him especially highlights his helplessness. The gap between the monster and Victor, and between the beast and human beings in general, is thus shown as very less. The beast shows his eloquence by alluding to John Milton’s Paradise Lost, one of the books he reads while living in the peasants’ hovel (described later in the monster’s narrative). The first of these allusions occurs in these chapters when the monster tries to convince Victor to listen to his story. He reminds Victor to “remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel". The monster holds Victor responsible for his evil actions by comparing him to God. He rebukes Victor for neglecting him and failing him to provide a nourishing environment.

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