Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?
Lines from John Milton's Paradise Lost
From the title page of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheuse, 1818 In Frankenstein, the intelligent and sensitive monster created by Victor Frankenstein reads a copy of Milton's Paradise Lost, which profoundly stirs his emotions. The monster compares his situation to that of Adam. Unlike the first man who had "come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature," Frankenstein's creature is hideously formed. Abandoned by Victor Frankenstein, the monster finds himself "wretched, helpless, and alone." This is so unlike “the biblical creation of Adam and Eve”
Surrounded by Ice
A sledge . . . had drifted towards us in the night, on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it. . . . His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. Robert Walton to his sister Mrs. Saville
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheuse, 1818
Frankenstein opens with a series of letters written by Arctic explorer Robert Walton, engaged in a personal quest to expand the boundaries of the known world. It is Walton who first encounters Victor Frankenstein in the Arctic desperately searching for the monster he has created. The explorer becomes the only person to hear Victor Frankenstein's strange and tragic tale.
The Spark of Life
I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak . . . and so soon as the dazzling light vanished the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump. . . . I eagerly inquired of my father the nature and origin of thunder and lightning. He replied, "Electricity." Victor Frankenstein to Robert Walton
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, 1818
In Mary Shelley's day, many people...