In the center of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, we finally get to hear the creature's account of his life since he was abandoned by Victor Frankenstein, his creator. The creature tells Victor about a family he observed from outside of their cottage. From the DeLacey family, the creature learns about family relationships and he learns language. In Volume II, Chapter VII, the creature describes his excitement at finding a case containing clothing and books; he says he "eagerly seized the prize" and is relieved to see the books written in the language he has learned from the cottagers. He then goes on to tell Victor what he learned from each book.
From The Sorrows of Werter, the creature learns about a range of human emotions, sympathizes with the main character, and compares/contrasts the protagonist's life with his own. The creature talks about idolizing the protagonist, "a more divine being than I had ever beheld," and feeling deep empathy for this character: "I inclined towards the opinions of the hero, whose extinction I wept." As a result of reading Werter, the creature feels
similar, yet at the same time strangely unlike the beings concerning whom I read, and to whose conversation I was a listener. I sympathized with, and partly understood them, but I was unformed in mind; I was dependent on none and related to none.
The creature's sentiments here are significant because they tell us that he is both like and unlike the humans in the cottage and in the book. He is starting to understand that he is a being who, while human in some ways, is also set apart from others, namely by his lack of family or community.
The creature also reads Plutarch's Lives, from which he learns "high thoughts; he elevated me above the wretched sphere of my own reflections, to admire and love the heroes of past ages." The creature develops a respect for virtue and for law and thus learns about the values of Western society.
Of the three texts, though, Paradise Lost is the most significant. Milton's epic poem re-tells the Genesis story of the fall of man. The creature sees much of his own predicament in the story, namely in the relationship between God and Adam. The creature explains,
Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with, and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature: but I was wretched, helpless, and alone.
This excerpt is important because it is the creature's resentment at Victor's lack of fatherly care for him that leads him on his revenge mission. Further, the creature's contrasts of Victor and himself with God and Adam clarify Shelley's theme of the dangers of humans playing God. Victor usurps divine authority in creating life, and when he is not responsible for the life he has created, disaster follows.