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Frankenstein Chapter 11 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

In Chapter 11 of ''Frankenstein'', we finally get a chance to hear the monster speak in his own voice, and we get a view of the world through his eyes. The monster's development from an emotional to an intellectual creature shows that he is more than what he seems.

Review

Victor Frankenstein has been obsessed with science and the secret of life since he was a boy. While at college at the University of Ingolstadt, Victor discovered how to animate dead flesh. In short, he learned how to create life. He decided to build the perfect human. However, something went terribly wrong. When Victor woke his creation up, he was horrified by the dull yellow eyes of the creature. Victor fell into a fever, and the monster disappeared.

Victor recovered slowly, and when he was finally ready to go home to Switzerland, he received terrible news from his father. His younger brother was murdered and a family friend was accused and eventually executed for the crime. Victor, however, knew that the monster killed his brother. The guilty Victor sought solitude in the mountains surrounding his home. Once there however, he met the monster, who told Victor that whether he leaves him and humanity alone forever depends on Victor himself. All he wants is for Victor to listen to his tale.

The Monster's Story: In the Beginning

The monster begins telling Victor Frankenstein the story of what he's been doing in the two years since he ran out of Frankenstein's apartment in Ingolstadt.

As he tells his story, he seems to gently reproach Victor for abandoning him and not being a teacher to him. When the monster first awoke, he learned about the world through his senses. Everything was new to him. He had no one to guide him in the process, as human babies and children do. After leaving the apartment and sleeping in the forest for a night, he discovers that he is cold, and covers himself with clothing. In this same way, he discovers hunger, pain, and other powerful sensations.

It is the discovery of a still-burning campfire that changes everything for the monster. He comes across an abandoned camp in the woods, and the warmth of the fire thrills the monster, who has been shivering in the cold. But when he sticks his hand into the glowing warmth, he's burned. In this way, the monster discovers danger. He teaches himself about the fire--and his world--and learns to cook food. His life improves drastically.

After a few days, lack of food forces the monster to leave the relative comfort of the abandoned camp. He leaves the woods he's been sheltering in. The weather is cold and snowy. When the monster walks out of the forest, he sees a hut in the distance, so he heads towards it.

Discovering Humanity

Inside the hut, the monster sees a man eating breakfast. The man looks at the monster, screams, and runs away. The monster eats the man's breakfast and then falls asleep on his bed. When he wakes up, he heads for a nearby village.

This turns out to be a mistake. The people here are also terrified of the huge form of the monster, but they don't just run screaming. They throw rocks and other objects at the monster, hurting him badly. He runs away and seeks shelter. He's hurt not only physically but emotionally as well.

The Monster in the 1910 film version
The Monster

The Hovel and the Cottage

In his flight from the rock-throwing villagers, the monster looks for a place to rest and recover. He comes to a hovel attached to a small cottage and goes inside to hide. It's very small, but at least he's out of the snow.

In the morning, the monster surveys the place he's ended up in. Wary of the way the last group of humans treated him, he covers up the entrance so he can see out, but no one can see in. He steals some bread and eats it. He finds a cup and sees that a stream runs beside the hovel. The chimney of the cottage is against the hovel, and it keeps him warm. With his immediate needs--food, water, shelter, warmth--provided, the monster takes stock of his situation. It's as good a place as he's likely to find, so he decides to stay there for the winter.

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