Mary Shelley, Frankenstein: Ch. 5

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Chapter 5

It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils.(d) With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open;d it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautifuld. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.

The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length lassitudew succeeded to the tumult I had before endured, and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain; I slept, indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became lividw with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed;d when, by the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters, I beheld the wretch—the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate soundsd, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me, but I escaped and rushed downstairs. I took refuge in the courtyard belonging to the house which I inhabited, where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.

Oh! No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then, but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Danteh could not have conceived.

I passed the night wretchedly. Sometimes my pulse beat so quickly and hardly that I felt the palpitation of every artery; at others, I nearly sank to the ground through languor and extreme weakness. Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment; dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so complete!

Morning, dismal and wet, at length dawned and discovered to my sleepless and aching eyes the church of Ingolstadt, its white steeple and clock, which indicated the sixth hour. The porter opened the gates of the court, which had that night been my asylum, and I issued into the streets, pacing them with quick steps, as if I sought to avoid the wretch whom I feared every turning of the street would present to my view. I did not dare return to the apartment which I inhabited, but felt impelled to hurry on, although drenched by the rain which poured from a black and comfortless sky.

X [(d)] It was on a dreary night of November that I b…


X [d] I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature ope…

Science & Technology

Frankenstein's creation of life depends on inorganic material, surgery, and some animating force such as electricity. The eye came from a dead creature, presumably a human, and has not survived well its transplanting but appears like other parts of the monster to betray its origins in the grave and charnel house. We are invited to shudder at this immaculate conception, gestation, and birth and compare them with the organic process, beginning with sex, by which a human life comes to exist. 

X [d] I had selected his features as beautiful


Frankenstein assembled lips, eyes, skin, hair, teeth, limbs, all from cadavers. Some parts remain dead in appearance (black lips, yellow eyes). The harmony and proportionality that made them beautiful in their host body become monstrous when joined in a new body.

We might recall H. G. Wells' terrifying The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896), which describes another surgical genius's endeavors, that of mixing parts from different species and genders—a stag's or dog's head upon a human body.

X [w] lassitude


X [w] livid

Bluish and leaden, or when livid with anger, pale to alabaster. 

X [d] I started from my sleep with horror; a cold d…



X [d] inarticulate sounds


We learn that the monster (doubly freakish, for he's an infant in a huge adult human body) cannot speak because he's literally inarticulate, having not yet learned a language. 

X [h] Dante

Writing & Reading

Dante Alighieri, the poet of the early 14th-c. poem The Divine Comedy.  Dante's fertility of invention and descriptive powers are unsurpassable, especially in Inferno, which describes the conditions and punishments of exemplary malefactorsIn fact, despite Victor's assertion, Dante could have conceived of a thing at least as grotesque as the monster, and does, Satan.…

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