by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein Chapter 16 Quotes
How we cite the quotes:
"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery." (16.1)
So, fun fact: in 1798, this guy Thomas Malthus warned people that overpopulation was going to destroy the planet, and that one solution was to get people (especially poor people) to stop having so many babies through family planning which, in the early nineteenth century, meant "stop having sex." Guess who wasn't a fan? William Godwin, Mary Shelley's dad, who thought that we could all just get along if we'd just try harder. (A lot of the Big Six felt this way, too.) What did Mary Shelley think? We're not sure. But that phrase "the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed" sounds a lot like a condemnation of people having babies willy-nilly—especially considering that "wanton" is a word used a lot for excessive sexual activity, which, before our own age of family planning, tended to mean excessive babies.
"He struggled violently. `Let me go,' he cried; `monster! Ugly wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre. Let me go, or I will tell my papa.'
"`Boy, you will never see your father again; you must come with me.'
"`Hideous monster! Let me go. My papa is a syndic—he is M. Frankenstein—he will punish you. You dare not keep me.' (16.27-29)
William immediately thinks that the monster is, well, a monster. How does a six-year-old kid learn about ogres? (Don't say Lord of the Rings.) Could it be that we're all innately prejudiced?
"As I fixed my eyes on the child, I saw something glittering on his breast. I took it; it was a portrait of a most lovely woman. In spite of my malignity, it softened and attracted me. For a few moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, fringed by deep lashes, and her lovely lips; but presently my rage returned; I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow and that she whose resemblance I contemplated would, in regarding me, have changed that air of divine benignity to one expressive of disgust and affright. (16.32)
The monster is upset that normal people will not treat him with kindness merely because he is not attractive.