In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, what is the monster's reaction when he sees himself reflected in a pool of water?

In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, when the creature sees himself reflected in a pool of water his reaction is one of disgust. For the first time, the creature sees himself as others see him, and he realizes how hideous he appears to them.

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The creature longs to connect with humanity, and this feeling is amplified when he discovers the cottagers. He admires them not only for the warm relationships they share with each other but also for their "grace, beauty, and delicate complexions."

In this section of the novel, the creature speaks for...

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The creature longs to connect with humanity, and this feeling is amplified when he discovers the cottagers. He admires them not only for the warm relationships they share with each other but also for their "grace, beauty, and delicate complexions."

In this section of the novel, the creature speaks for himself; it is significant that he is given his own voice to explain the pain he has felt about the constant rejection he has faced by not only Victor but by all of humanity.

In his efforts to spy upon the cottagers and learn more about them, the creature passes by a transparent pool of water. When he sees his reflection for the first time, at first he cannot even believe that the image is his own. Ultimately, he is forced to confront the truth—that the hideous reflection is indeed of his own appearance. The creature thus becomes convinced that this reflection accurately presents "the monster that I am."

The word choice of "monster" is significant here. While Victor uses the term "creature" as well as "monster" to describe his creation, the latter is only used to describe things of evil in the book. Conversely, "creature" is often used to describe innocent beings, such as Justine and Elizabeth. In this way, the creature's feelings about himself have begun to shift, reflecting that he views himself capable of evil.

He thus becomes filled with feelings of the "bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification." Not only is the creature horrified by his outer appearance, he is also horrified by what he realizes he is capable of becoming.

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When Frankenstein's creature briefly catches his reflection in a pool of water, he realizes for the very first time that he is a hideous, ugly being. He also understands that this is what sets him apart from his neighbors, Felix and Agatha, whose appearance and comportment the monster cannot help but admire, albeit from a distance.

Seeing himself reflected in the water precipitates a growing awareness on the monster's part of his radical otherness and his separation from human society. Simply put, once he sees his reflection, he realizes that he doesn't belong among humans. Although he feels a certain affection towards Felix and Agatha, he knows that he cannot establish any kind of meaningful connection with them on account of his shocking appearance.

The creature has already been abandoned by his creator, Frankenstein, and the last thing he wants is to be rejected once again. The kind of warmth he observes between his neighbors is not something he is ever likely to receive.

So he keeps himself apart from human society, finding solace in the natural world around him. Here at least the creature doesn't have to worry about being judged, or rejected because of his appearance. As a true child of nature, this is where the creature really belongs.

Furthermore, he concludes that the only way he will find companionship is with another of his own kind, and so he resolves to ask Frankenstein to make him a wife.

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In chapter 4, volume II of Frankenstein the creature was still in awe of the cottagers, and he fully expressed his admiration towards them during his moments of reflection. He liked their looks, their actions, and even the utterances that later he  identified as words.

The creature was in a state of bliss. He was connecting emotionally with the family and he created a fantasy in his head in which he was one of the De Laceys. Shortly after he had begun to experience those feelings of love and affection, he had the horrid experience of seeing his reflection in a pool of water.

In the monster's words:

... but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity.

The creature's words demonstrate that he suffered two huge disappointments: First, having to break from the fantasy world that he had created, in which he was a part of the De Lacey family. Second, having to accept that he was a far cry from what he would have wanted to be.

It must have been a devastating blow for the creature to know that he possessed the needs, wants, and desires of a human and yet he had to live hiding from humanity itself. The reflection in the water was more than just the monster facing himself, but it also represented the creature's sad acceptance of his reality and his destiny.

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In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the creature has never really had the chance to see what he looks like. He has been scorned and rejected by society, even by his own creator, but does not grasp the significance until he has had time to watch the DeLacey family, and see their beauty: within and without.

I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers—their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool. At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity.

In reading this passage, we learn that the sight of the creature's reflection in the water at first terrifies him. We can assume, this would be the case with anyone who has no concept of a mirror or "reflection," who might be mesmerized by the sight. The creature is particularly intelligent, and soon he realizes that what he sees is his own face. He responds with a sense of abject sadness and "mortification" (or shame, humiliation, embarrassment).

The last comment the creature makes in the passage is an example of foreshadowing. He has spoken of his hopes to make a connection with the DeLacey family, which he so admires. His physical appearance will make this impossible.

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