Frankenstein Chapter 15 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

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

The moment the monster has been waiting for has finally arrived. He's going to reveal himself to the De Laceys. But before that, the monster has to deal with some discoveries that shake him to the very core. This lesson will focus on the summary of chapter 15 of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Review of Previous Chapters

For almost a year, the monster has observed the De Lacey family as they go about their lives. Through them, he has learned about language, family, and love. Their fall from wealth to poverty moves him to tears. But he didn't want to approach them until he mastered their language. Now the monster learns about history, emotions, and creation, and prepares to finally reveal himself to the family he has long loved from afar.

A Discovery in the Woods

In August, the monster goes for a walk in the woods like he does each evening, to find supper for himself and firewood for the De Laceys. But he finds something else, something that will change him forever. Deep in the forest, he finds an old leather suitcase containing some clothes and three books, The Sorrows of Young Werther, a volume of Plutarch's Lives, and Paradise Lost.

The monster is thrilled. He spends his days in study of the books, and each teaches him something different.

Learning Despair, Virtue, and Spirituality

The first book the monster studies is The Sorrows of Young Werther, a tale told through letters about a young man's hopeless romance and ensuing suicide. This book teaches the monster about deep thoughts. He learns to question life, death, and suicide. The book also teaches him about sorrow and despair. It makes him feel apart from humanity, and makes him question the very fact of his own existence.

Next, the monster turns to is Plutarch's Lives, which is a series of biographies about noble Greeks and Romans. This book teaches the monster about men of the past, the great and the evil. He learns that while some humans can show great virtue, others are full of vice. This books gives the monster great respect for goodness, and he compares these historical figures to the De Lacey family.

Finally, the monster picks up Paradise Lost. This books brings out much deeper emotions than the other two. The monster reads the story of Adam, who was a perfect, happy creature loved and protected by his Creator. The monster can't help but compare himself to Satan rather than Adam, and bitter envy swirls inside the monster when he thinks of happy humans.

A makeup rendition of the monster
A makeup rendition of the monster

Learning Hatred

The monster makes another discovery, and this one horrifies rather than thrills him. In the pocket of the coat he'd stolen from Victor's laboratory, the monster finds the journals that Victor Frankenstein kept during his creation.

The monster reads about the despair that Victor felt when he beheld the monster, and the monster learns to hate. He hates himself, and he hates Victor for first creating and then abandoning him.

Revelation

Felix and Safie are happy together, and both Agatha and De Lacey smile more. The monster is happy to see their joy, but it fades whenever he catches a glimpse of himself in water or glass. Autumn passes, and the monster longs to meet the cottagers face-to-face. He believes that they will at least listen to him, as they seem to be such good and compassionate people.

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