What does the monster do after leaving Ingolstadt in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?
In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Volume 2, Chapter 3, the creature flees Ingolstadt; Victor's rejection; and his inability to live in the town.
Traveling in the woods, much like a newborn child, the creature spends a great deal of time learning about emotions, physical sensations (like burning his hands in a fire he finds), and the world in which he has been thrust--alone--without anyone to teach or direct him. He took some of Victor's clothes before leaving the laboratory, but they are not enough to protect him from the cold. But soon he finds a cloak in the woods that offers relief from the chilling dew. He learns about light, which he does not like, but in closing his eyes, he dislikes the darkness more. So he finds himself traveling in the shade. Through experimentation, he finds that the water from streams soothes his thirst and that he can sustain his strength by eating buries.
When he travels at night, he realizes he can move without being seen. He finds great beauty in the world: the moon, even the sound of the birds that chatter and sing around him: some bird sounds are beautiful, while other birds' songs are harsh.
I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes. I began also to observe, with greater accuracy, the forms that surrounded me, and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant roof of light which canopied me. Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant songs of the birds, but was unable.
Soon the creature discovers fire, as well as a healthy respect for it when he burns himself:
I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such opposite effects!
Through trial and error, he learns how to make the fire grow and how to protect it at night. When he uses it to cook, his berries are ruined, but the nuts and roots he has collected are better for being roasted on the fire.
As food starts to disappears, the creature knows he must move on; he is saddened to leave the fire behind. He discovers a small hut. When he enters, the man inside, who is cooking, flees. The monster eats some of the food, and falls asleep. Waking, he takes the remainder of the food with him, and strikes out again. His travel continues, taking him to a village. But when he tries to get food, he is run out of town by physical threats, "missiles" of stones, and other objects that bring him pain.
Eventually he comes upon a cabin with a lean-to attached. Inside it, the creature finds shelter. The cabin is the home of the DeLacy family, who live quite simply: the old man and his son and daughter, who care for him. He hears language for the first time, but cannot understand it, and is pleased to see that they use candles, another new concept for him:
Night quickly shut in; but, to my extreme wonder, I found that the cottagers had a means of prolonging light, by the use of tapers [candles], and was delighted to find, that the setting of the sun did not put an end to the pleasure I experienced in watching my human neighbours...
The old man takes up an instrument which makes wonderful sounds: music. It is at this point that the chapter ends, when everyone retires for the night.
After leaving Ingolstadt, the monster at first wanders aimlessly, overwhelmed by the various sensations of sight, touch, hearing, and smell which are entirely new to his experience. The light in particular oppresses him, and he seeks shelter in the dark coolness of the nearby forest. There, he rests by a picaresque brook, drinking from it when he is thirsty, and foraging for berries when he is hungry. Clothed in only some garments he has fortuitously taken from Victor's apartment, the monster describes himself as
"a poor, helpless, miserable wretch...[who] could distinguish nothing...but...pain invad[ing] on all sides."
After several days, the monster becomes acclimated to his environment, and learns to survive in the secluded confines of the forest. One day, he comes upon a fire which has been left by "some wandering beggars," and, after first burning his hands, discovers its many advantageous properties. Sadly, food becomes scarce in the area with the coming of winter, and the monster is forced to move on in search of accommodations which can better sustain him.
The monster strikes out across the wood, and soon reaches open country. Snow has begun to fall, and, in seeking shelter, the monster enters a village, but the residents receive him with terror, and he is driven away. Out in the open country once again, he takes refuge in an old hovel adjoining a "neat and pleasant cottage." Undetected, he makes the hovel his home, and observes the inhabitants of the cottage for a considerable period of time, learning from them the manifestations of love and family interactions (Volume 2, Chapter 4).