The history of the De Lacey’s is important in tracing the change of the monster because it altered his views on mankind. From their history he has developed a hatred for the crime system because of the trauma they went through when being exiled, all for (from his point of view) doing the right thing! Later in the monster’s story (Chapter 15) he discovered three books in the neighbouring wood. These books played a vital part in the monster’s emotional development. For example the first story was called `Sorrows of Werter’, this was a tragic love story by a German author called Goethe. (1749-1832)
It is a semi-autobiographical novel about the life and ultimate suicide of a sensitive artist who is helplessly in love with a woman engaged to someone else. (Published in 1774) This story developed the mind of the monster because he learned of death. This is a key point in the development of the monster because his sensibilities are expanded. He feels empathy for the character of Werter. The monster applies the story of Werter to his own feelings and condition but still realises he is different. (‘As I read however, I applied much personally to my own feelings and conditions’) This intensifies his sense of isolation and leads him to ask questions, again relating to his identity. (‘What did this mean? Who was I?’)
The second book he found was a volume of ‘Plutarch’s Lives. Plutarch (AD 50-125) was a Greek biographer. This book illustrates the moral characters of the ages through anecdotes (stories) about great things that they have done. ‘Plutarch’s Lives’ provided the Monster with the rudiments of the history, politics and religions of the world, this giving him more knowledge of the nature of man such as the good and bad sides of human nature.
This book teaches the monster the cruelty of man and that man is capable of inflicting pain on others, especially of those that are alien or different. ‘Plutarch’s Lives’ has a very different effect on the monster than ‘Sorrows of Werter’, he learns ‘high-thoughts. He becomes raised beyond the misery of his own condition by stories of heroes of the past. Like Werter, he feels great empathy for the characters in ‘Plutarch’s Lives.’ The third book and possibly the most important for tracing the monster’s development is ‘Paradise Lost’. It is an epic poem by John Milton (published in 1674) based on the story of the creation as told in Genesis.
The structure of the poem is in Iambic pentameter and it does not rhyme. ‘Paradise Lost’ explains why the monster had earlier referred to hell when describing the old shepherd’s hut. Awareness of ‘Paradise Lost’ is crucial to understanding the monsters psyche as this is what motivates him to demand a female companion from Victor. The importance of ‘Paradise Lost’ when tracing the change and development of the monster is immense because during his narrative he is constantly linking himself with Adam although he knows he is different. Adam was perfect and loved by God; he was left abandoned by Victor without an ‘Eve’ to comfort him. He sees himself as ‘wretched, helpless and alone’, this making him think that he could possibly be connected with Satan, (another idea from ‘Paradise Lost’) this making him envious of mankind. While he links himself with Adam, he also connects Victor with God. He truly believes the Genesis story.
The reading of this story also controls the way the monster speaks. (‘Pandaemonium appeared to the daemons of hell’) Another circumstantial discovery changed the monster dramatically when he found some papers in the pocket of a dress, which he took from the laboratory when he was born. He previously neglected them but now that he could read English he managed to understand them and realised that it was his creator’s journal, written during the four months he was being made.
This journal infuriates the monster and so he calls Victor ‘accursed creator.’ He was sickened when he read ‘Hateful day when I received life!’ Reading this journal gave the monster an insight to what Victor Frankenstein was like and what he knew disgusted him. He asked ‘Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? The notes made the monster learn how Victor felt when he realised what he had created. He now knows why he was abandoned at birth; it was due to the repulsion felt by Victor Frankenstein who he now deeply curses in the bitterness of his heart.
For the next few months his loneliness grows and he remains ‘solitary and abhorred.’ His only source of happiness lies with the De Lacey’s and so he talks himself into believing the family will accept him. The monster keeps postponing this visit because his reflection knocks his confidence and he loses hope. His feelings are constantly changing with his frequent daydreams for his prolonging need for an Eve and he is still always relating to ‘Paradise Lost.’ His ever-growing knowledge seems to haunt his mind because his deformity and wretchedness only becomes clearer when his intelligence increases.
As time passes, the season once again changes from summer to winter and so the monster paid more attention to the cottagers rather than his love for nature which enticed him during the summer. He notices that the De Lacey’s remain happy with Safie staying and that they seem better off, now with servants to help them with their daily tasks. The more the monster observed them, the greater the desire he had ‘to claim their protection and kindness which he saw himself worthy of. He still contemplates on his decision to request their love but he seems confident when he says, ‘The poor that stopped at their door were never driven away’ and so he knows that they should feel kindness and sympathy towards him. He plans how he will introduce himself and decides to enter the cottage when the old man is alone and gain his good will, hopefully resulting to be tolerated by the younger members of the family.
The monster carries out his plan on an autumn day when Safie, Agatha and Felix leave the cottage to go on a long country walk. The De Lecay’s servants had travelled to a neighbouring fair so he saw this as his perfect chance to introduce himself. He approached the cottage and his nerves were extremely high when his limbs failed him and he sank to the ground. However his determination prevailed and he knocked and entered the De Lacey’s household for the first time. He talks to De Lacey very politely and tells him of the friends of who he aims to protect, as he sincerely loves them. (Here he is talking with De Lacey but as if he is relating to another family)
He tells De Lacey of his fears of becoming an outcast, which he could face if the family do not accept him. De Lacey replies to the monster’s comments about the prejudice’s against him and reassures him that men ‘are full of brotherly love and charity.’ De Lacey suggests to the monster that he should undecieve the family that he longs to protect. When the monster tells De Lacey that this family live nearby he offers to talk to them and assure them of the monster’s good nature. He willingly accepts this offer, thanks De Lacey and promises that he will be forever grateful. All things appear to be excellent for the short period the monster is conversing with another human until De Lacey asks; ‘May I know the names and residence of those friends?’
Frankenstein hesitated here and failed to answer ‘until he sank on the chair and sobbed aloud.’ His troubles grew when he heard the footsteps of the younger De Lacey’s. He seized the hand of the old man and begged for him to protect him from his family’s prejudice. Agatha enters and faints immediately. Safie ran out of the cottage without assisting her friend. Felix struck the monster violently with a stick. Instead of becoming enraged and fighting back his heart sank ‘with bitter sickness’. He left the cottage and escaped to his hovel. It seems he was right to believe himself to be an ‘outcast in the world forever.’
After the monster’s traumatic time with the De Lacey’s he experiences feelings of hate and revenge. (we see here how influential his interaction with human society is towards his emotions) His good nature earlier in the book seems to have vanquished until he is left more like Satan than Adam who he constantly related to. ‘I was like a wild beast that had broken the toils, destroying the objects that obstructed me and ranging through the wood with a staglike swiftness.’ Here he describes himself as an animal, he sees himself as other humans did. As he wandered through the wood he ‘wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction.’ However he was overcome with fatigue and so unable to do this, after declaring ever-lasting war upon human society, ‘I sank on the damp grass in the sick impotence of despair.’
After the anger had subsided the monster thinks about his situation, here he shows more development. His thoughts calmed him, he had decided that he was too hasty in his decision to leave the De Lacey family. The monster knew he had intrigued the old man and he believed his errors could be mended. After much thought his decision is to reapproach the cottage. After he had satisfied his hunger he made his way to the well-known footpath that directed the way to the cottagers household.
He lay in his hovel waiting for the hour in which the family arose, the hour passed and they did not appear. However a while after the monster’s emotions had run high with worry and agonising suspense Felix approached the cottage with an unfamiliar man. (the owner of the cottage) They spoke regarding the leave of the De Lacey’s. Their reason for leaving was of course because of the monster’s appearance. ‘My wife and my sister will never recover from their horror.’