How and what does the creature learn about the human race in Shelley's "Frankenstein"?

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amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor Frankenstein creates a creature (he is never given a name, and so therefore it is wrong to refer to him as "Frankenstein") who learns two ways about humankind.  While the creature hides in the hovel attached to the home where the De Lacey family is living, he learns language.  He learns to speak, to read, and to write a little based on the lessons Felix gives to Agatha in the home.  Once he learns to read, he reads Victor's journals and the books that were in the leather case in Victor's cloak.  The books are Milton's Paradise Lost, Plutarch's Lives, and the Sorrows of Werter.  From these, he learned much about how humans govern themselves, respond to one another and relate through power, war, and beauty.  He says, "As I read, however, I applied much personally to my own feelings and condition.  I found myself similar, yet at the same time strangely unlike to the beings concerning whom I read, and to whose conversation I was a listener."  He began asking himself questions like "Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?" In addition, he learned of cruelty and judgment first-hand when the villagers chased him with sticks and threw rocks at him as well as when Felix attacked him for being too near his elderly and blind father.  For these reasons, the creature decides upon revenge for Victor as he is the reason the creature's life is so miserable and outcast.

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Frankenstein

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