Notice how he ‘attends’ the needs of the cottagers. He never wants anything in return, and does not seem to question his own better nature. As well as this he is fascinated by their daily lives and routines, and he watches over them like an existential being. It was from this careful observation that the monster learns to speak, and from then on can truly express himself. At this time however, he continued about his way, gathering things for himself at night and giving the kind cottage-folk a helping hand. When he “returned, as often as it was necessary, I cleared their path from the snow and performed those offices that I had seen done by Felix. I afterwards found that these labours, performed by an invisible hand, greatly astonished them; and once or twice I heard them, on these occasions, utter the words ‘good spirit, wonderful’.
Although the family do not know who he is, you can tell from this quote that they are grateful for the deeds he has performed. From this point on he is determined to integrate himself with the Family, and as autumn passed, he was not fearful of winter, but full of hope. He believed, or at least, deceived himself to believe that he could at some point become cared for. His “heart yearned to be known and loved”. His feelings are poured out onto the pages, and once sieved and dismembered what remains is not a fiend at all, but a very human soul. It is this climax of emotion, this moment of brutal desperation, that really pulls at our heartstrings; we are not reading about a monster anymore, but one of us.
He compiles several schemes to introduce himself, but in the end decides upon a plan by which he will talk to the oldest, blind De Lacey before attempting the rest of the family. He waits until the family has left, and it is only the old man who remains. He then tries plucking up the courage to enter the house, but his bravery fails him. This feeling of anticipation and nervousness strikes a cord with all of us, and we feel almost as tense with expectation.
He enters the house, and at first everything goes well. The reader is no doubt happy that the monster’s ruse has gone to plan. But then, the remaining De Lacey’s return, and fearing the worst, beat the creature to the floor. Even in this instant of devastating disappointment- the monster still restrains from violence- “I could have torn him limb from limb, as the lion rends the antelope. But my heart sunk with bitter sickness and I refrained”
This final act of humanity rips us apart with feelings of sympathy and regret. He could have destroyed the thing that was at that point splitting his heart in two, but one final once of morality pushes its way to the front of his mind. The monster flees.
At this point in the novel, he is at his almost lowest point. He has been rejected- totally deserted by those he loved. He begins to let initial feelings of isolation creep back into his head- was he forever doomed to live out this fate(?); first his creator, the townspeople and then the De Laceys. How many more would look upon him with such distaste? He cannot understand, nor can he express the emotions that confront him at this time. He becomes a wanderer- a lost soul, wishing he could hide from the world lest it strike it again. He is aimless, walking through a forest not knowing where he is going just wishing it were less like that behind him.
“Forgetting my solitude and deformity, dared to be happy…” Without peoples mirrored faces to remind him of his awful appearance he is almost content; alone, lonely, but with no immediate fear to occupy his busy mind. He then comes to a “deep and rapid river”, and a “young girl came running towards the spot where I was concealed, laughing, as if she ran from someone in sport. She continued…when suddenly her foot slipt and she fell into the rapid stream”.
The monster acts instinctively. He darts out from his protective hiding place and retrieves the girl from the river. This demonstrates his A Priori benevolence- an innate sense of morality. However, fate is cruel, and just moments later a man appears, presumably it were he that was chasing the girl. When the man came close to the monster- a look of terror graced his face. He “aimed a gun, which he carried, at my body and fired”.
The monster is left, not only reeling from the bullet but also carrying an immense inner anguish. He was good, he tried, but human society was too shallow and paranoid to accept him for what he was. He feels crushed- flattened by a vindictive and un-redeeming life. He questions his actions, angrily telling himself “This was the reward of my benevolence! I have saved a human being from destruction, and, as recompense, I now writhed under the miserable pain of a wound, which shattered flesh and bone” We now feel overwhelmed. Sympathy is not strong enough to describe who we feel, so much already having been extracted.
The same is true of the monster. He is empty. He has nothing left, and so the vacuum of good-heartedness is replaced with cruel thoughts of vengeance. He wants to destroy the person who created him in the same way that he was destroyed. He wants revenge. And in some ways, we support him. We have been made to feel sorry for him, to understand his pain, and now we can somewhat see his point. He travels towards Geneva, in search of his creator. On his way, he comes across a small child, and in one glance- all hatred is lost. He thinks this young child could not possibly be afraid of him, that he would maybe be his friend. He thinks this because the child is like him- innocent, nave and unassuming.
But when the monster approaches him, he lets out a terrible cry- “You are an ogre let me go, or I will tell my papa… he is Frankenstein” The creature was wrong, the little boy was scared of him. William also told the monster the one thing he wished to know, that he was related to Victor, and his death would cause the creator pain. This was the final straw. He strangled poor prejudiced William.
From here on we begin to lose sympathy for the monster. He will kill anyone in order to hurt his creator. He realises that mere death would be a release for Victor Frankenstein. He goes on to kill Cleval and Elizabeth. The death of innocents surprises us, and goes a long way to vanquish the sympathy we have built up for the monster. He sums up his opinions on the suffering he has caused by saying “I am wretched because I am miserable…tell me why should I pity man more than he pities me?” .
Overall, this is the point Mary Shelley is trying to make. Why on earth should we expect sympathy from a creature we ourselves have shown none? Victor has created something, merely for his own satisfaction, and had not spared a seconds-thought for the consequences. Mary Shelley speaks out for conservatism, morality and religion. We feel sorry for the monster because we feel sorry for ourselves, and the book is just as relevant in today’s society as it was then. Harry Quinn Schone