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Frankenstein

Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley

Sacrifice Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

The republican institutions of our country have produced simpler and happier manners than those which prevail in the great monarchies that surround it. Hence there is less distinction between the several classes of its inhabitants; and the lower orders, being neither so poor nor so despised, their manners are more refined and moral. A servant in Geneva does not mean the same thing as a servant in France and England. Justine, thus received in our family, learned the duties of a servant, a condition which, in our fortunate country, does not include the idea of ignorance and a sacrifice of the dignity of a human being. (6.5)

This is a weird little PSA to drop in the middle of a novel about the dangers of scientific absorption—especially considering that Shelley was an English writer. What does "dignity" mean in this context? And doesn't Justine just end up sacrificed anyway?

Quote #5

We passed a considerable period at Oxford, rambling among its environs and endeavouring to identify every spot which might relate to the most animating epoch of English history. Our little voyages of discovery were often prolonged by the successive objects that presented themselves. We visited the tomb of the illustrious Hampden and the field on which that patriot fell. For a moment my soul was elevated from its debasing and miserable fears to contemplate the divine ideas of liberty and self sacrifice of which these sights were the monuments and the remembrancers. For an instant I dared to shake off my chains and look around me with a free and lofty spirit, but the iron had eaten into my flesh, and I sank again, trembling and hopeless, into my miserable self. (19.8)

Frankenstein and Clerval get all fired up about the "self sacrifice" of English heroes—but it's too late for Frankenstein, who's so bummed out about the monster that he doesn't even feel "free." This gives us some context for his alleged self sacrifice later, but we're not sure that it counts if you create the problem in the first place, right? Are they really going to put up a tombstone that says, "Here lies Frankenstein. He unleashed a horrible monster, let it kill all his friends, and then died"? Yeah. It's not very inspiring.

Quote #6

"Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions, but revenge remains — revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict." (20.11)

Huh. If you look at it a certain way, the monster is actually making a sacrifice here: he's giving up his life to pursue Victor. (Not that he had much to give up.)

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