Frankenstein Volume 2: Chapters 3, 4, and 5 Summary and Analysis
by Mary Shelley

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Volume 2: Chapters 3, 4, and 5 Summary and Analysis

In Volume Two, Chapter Three, the creature assumes the role of narrator as he tells Victor his story.

When he is first brought to life, the creature is overwhelmed by sensations he doesn’t understand. Seeking relief from the sunlight and heat that plague him on the first morning of his life, he walks out of Ingolstadt into the forest, where he drinks from a stream and eats berries. When night falls, the clothes he had put on in Victor’s apartment prove insufficient to protect him from the cold. He weeps until he is comforted by the sight of the rising moon and the discovery of a cloak under a tree. As the days pass, the creature gains knowledge and understanding of his surroundings. He discovers the beauty of birdsong and is frightened by the sound of his own voice. He also discovers an abandoned campfire, which he learns can burn him as well as be used for warmth and cooking. Eventually the creature is forced to leave the fire in search of more food. He sets out through the woods, crosses a snow-covered field, and arrives at a small hut where he finds an old man cooking breakfast. To the creature’s surprise, the old man screams and runs away. The creature is enthralled with the hut, however, and rests there after eating the old man’s food. Even more amazing to him is the village he discovers after leaving the hut. Unfortunately, when he enters one of the cottages there, the creature’s appearance causes the children inside to scream and a woman to faint. Some of the other villagers run away, but others attack the creature, throwing stones at him until he escapes into the woods. The creature then takes shelter from the weather and “the barbarity of man” in a low wooden hovel attached to a small cottage.

The next morning, the creature discovers that the hovel is enclosed by a pigsty and a pool of water. After stealing a loaf of bread and a cup to drink from, he crawls back into the hovel and covers the opening by which he entered with wood and stones so that whoever lives in the cottage won’t be able to see him. Compared with the forest, the warm, dry hovel is “a paradise.” After eating his breakfast, the creature peers through a crack in the wall at a young woman walking by with a milk pail balanced on her head. When she returns, a young man takes the pail from her. Though the woman looks sad, the man looks even sadder. He leaves the cottage some time later, taking a handful of tools into the field, while the woman continues to attend to various chores. The creature then discovers a crack in the wall adjoining the cottage through which he can see inside the cottagers’ home. There, in a clean but bare room, he sees a kindly-looking old man sitting by the fire. The young woman sits down beside him, and he begins to play a beautiful, melancholy tune on a guitar. When the woman starts to cry, the old man comforts her, and the creature is overwhelmed with unfamiliar emotions. A short while later the young man returns with a load of firewood, and the woman makes soup while he works in the garden. After the cottagers eat dinner together, the old man leans on the young man’s arm as they walk in the sunlight. When night falls, the creature is amazed by the cottagers’ use of candles and listens uncomprehendingly as the young man reads aloud.

For the next several months the creature continues to hide in the hovel and observe the cottagers. He learns that the young man and woman are a brother and sister named Felix and Agatha, and that the old man, their father, is blind. To the creature’s eyes, the family seems to possess everything anyone could want—a comfortable shelter, food, fire, and, most of all, love and companionship—but he often sees Felix and Agatha crying. When he realizes the family suffers from poverty and hunger, the creature gathers roots and berries for himself in the forest at night rather than stealing their food. He even gathers firewood for the cottagers and clears the snow from their path,...

(The entire section is 2,921 words.)