After Frankenstein’s meeting with his creation, he knows he must create a female creature as well or suffer the loss of everyone he loves. He journeys to England to get the information he needs to create a second creature, and brings Clerval as his companion. They travel across England and eventually visit Scotland. Frankenstein, knowing he can’t postpone his task any longer, leaves Clerval and finds a solitary island to complete his work. However, he has a sudden realization that his second creation might refuse to fulfill the promise of the first, and that she may in fact destroy all of mankind. Therefore, when he is visited by his creation, he destroys all of his work. Frankenstein’s creation tells Frankenstein that he will visit him on his wedding night and make his life miserable. The creature then kills Clerval and Frankenstein, washing up on the shores of Ireland, is imprisoned for the crime. He falls ill and his father comes to see him. After his recovery he is found innocent and travels home with his father to marry Elizabeth. He believes his creation will come to kill him on his wedding night, so he takes every precaution against this, but instead the creation kills Elizabeth. Frankenstein returns home, grief-stricken, only to see his father die of shock. Then there is nothing left for him to do but pursue and kill his creation. It is in this pursuit that he found himself on Walton’s ship and recounted his story. Unfortunately, he weakened and died before he was able to get his revenge. Walton’s crew forces him to turn back from his journey so that they can go home to their families rather than pursuing glory with the danger of death. On the return journey, Walton enters the room where Frankenstein lies dead to find the creation standing over him. The creation says that he was driven to kill by an impulse he could not control, and that he feels great remorse, and will now go far north to burn himself and leave no trace that he ever existed.
I was particularly interested in this phrase from the reading:
“‘…Are you then so easily turned from your design? Did you not call this a glorious expedition? And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea, but because it was full of dangers and terror; because, at every new incident, your fortitude was to be called forth, and your courage exhibited; because danger and death surrounded it, and these you were brave to overcome. For this was it a glorious, for this was it an honourable undertaking. You were hereafter to be hailed as the benefactors of your species; your names adored, as belonging to brave men who encountered death for honour, and the benefit of mankind.’”
This intrigued me because it is spoken by Frankenstein, who claims to have learned the folly of ambition, but encourages these men to seek glory despite the dangers. I am not sure what to make of it. There is clearly a difference between men who seek to explore an arctic region and a man who tries to create life, but both have similar motivations. I don’t think Shelley would discourage all forms of innovation and courage, but she does show the dangers of how far humans will go to be honored and remembered. Even after all he has been through, Frankenstein can’t relinquish his ideas about glory. Soon after giving this speech it is decided that the ship will indeed turn back, and Frankenstein dies.