Frankenstein

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Themes and Colors
Family, Society, Isolation Theme Icon
Ambition and Fallibility Theme Icon
Romanticism and Nature Theme Icon
Revenge Theme Icon
Prejudice Theme Icon
Lost Innocence Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Frankenstein, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.
Prejudice Theme Icon

Frankenstein explores one of mankind's most persistent and destructive flaws: prejudice. Nearly every human character in the novel assumes that the monster must be dangerous based on its outward appearance, when in truth the monster is (originally) warm and open-hearted. Again and again the monster finds himself assaulted and rejected by entire villages and families despite his attempts to convey his benevolent intentions. The violence and prejudice he encounters convinces him of the "barbarity of man." That the only character who accepts the monster is a blind man, De Lacy, suggests that the monster is right: mankind is barbaric, and blinded by its own prejudice.

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Prejudice Quotes in Frankenstein

Below you will find the important quotes in Frankenstein related to the theme of Prejudice.
Chapter 5 Quotes
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.
Related Characters: Victor Frankenstein (speaker), The Monster
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

Victor has finally accomplished his goal: he has brought the Monster to life. However, he is immediately disgusted by his creation, such as the Monster's pale eyes and taut skin. In this section, he explains to Walton how his scientific enthusiasm suddenly morphed into repulsion. 

This is an essential moment in the novel, as it marks the beginning of Victor's disillusionment, a progressive loss of innocence. While his innocence is certainly beautiful, Shelley shows us that it is necessarily fleeting — the noun "dream" implies that reality and innocence are at odds with each other. They cannot coexist, and not one of the novel's characters escapes unscathed, unharmed by human ambition or injustice. 

Here, Shelley also introduces us to the Monster's unfortunate appearance, one that elicits "horror and disgust" in Victor. The creature will face such visceral reactions and intolerance from everyone he meets throughout the novel. Yet Shelley depicts the Monster as a complex, intelligent, and sympathetic figure, asking us to think about prejudice and empathy as we form our own opinions of him. 

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Chapter 7 Quotes
[A] flash of lightning illuminated the object and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy demon to whom I had given life.
Related Characters: Victor Frankenstein (speaker), The Monster
Related Symbols: Light
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of Chapter 7, Victor learns that William, his brother, has been strangled in a cemetery. He makes immediate plans to return to Geneva, where he will console his family. Entering the city at night as a thunderstorm breaks out overheard, he heads first to the cemetery in question. He sees the Monster's shape as a bolt of lightning floods the landscape, and understands that his own creation has murdered his brother. 

Again, Shelley depicts Victor's disgust for the Monster: though Victor has only seen the Monster (and not spoken with him) at this point, he already looks upon him with hatred. The words "demon," "hideous," and "wretch" betray his prejudice. He doesn't acknowledge that the Monster's appearance might not correspond to its emotional or intellectual state. 

Light, too, plays a crucial role in this section. Many of the novel's important scenes involve bright, blinding lights, both literal (as in this case) or metaphorical. Light can stand for scientific discovery, on the one hand, but also the harsh reality of lost innocence — as the lightning shows Victor the horrible truth of the situation. 

Chapter 10 Quotes
All men hate the wretched; how then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us.
Related Characters: The Monster (speaker), Victor Frankenstein
Page Number: 67
Explanation and Analysis:

Victor travels to Chamounix, an Alpine village, following the death of his brother and the execution of Justine. He finds solace in the "sublime" mountains and spectacular views, all of which soothe his troubled mind. However, as Victor crosses a glacier one day, the Monster confronts him for the first time. 

The Monster makes an impassioned speech, accusing Victor of intolerance, and yet also aligning himself with his creator. Shelley makes it clear that both figures are "miserable," physically and psychologically isolated: both are Romantic heroes, tormented by guilt and loneliness. Not only are the words "creature" and "creator" similar, but they remind us of Satan's relationship to God in Paradise Lost. Satan, too, is God's "creature," cast from the heavenly realm and sentenced to a miserable existence.

Victor has treated the Monster with fear and disgust up until this point — and in the conversation following this quote, the Monster describes this injustice and his first painful months in the world. Shelley does not dismiss or caricature the Monster. Yet this quote foreshadows the inevitable mortal conflict between the two characters, as only "annihilation" can break the ties that bind them.  

Chapter 16 Quotes
I am alone and miserable: man will not associate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you must create.
Related Characters: The Monster (speaker), Victor Frankenstein
Page Number: 101
Explanation and Analysis:

The Monster has just shared his tale with Victor, from his first nights in the wilderness to William's murder in the cemetery. He concludes with a demand: since all humans despise the Monster's appearance, and the Monster finds himself entirely alone and hated in the world, Victor must fashion an equally deformed female companion for him.

The questions of isolation and community are pertinent here, as the Monster seeks exactly the kind of companionship that the world, full of prejudice and intolerance, has denied him. To Shelley, a healthy man is one who does not lead a solitary existence: by this logic, Victor and the Monster are consumed and destroyed by their single-minded and lonely obsessions.

We should also note that Shelley gives another nod to Milton here. In an earlier chapter, the Monster had pored over Paradise Lost, noting the obvious parallels between himself, Satan, and Adam. And so his desire for a female companion, in a way, comes from his identification with Adam, the first man. Eve is the only other human being in Eden, and is Adam's only companion, created because Adam was alone: a female Monster would play a similar role. The Monster demands that this companion belong to his "species."

Walton, in continuation Quotes
Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me?
Related Characters: The Monster (speaker)
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

The Monster utters these words mere moments before he abandons the ship, promising Walton and Victor's corpse that he will seek death and soon throw himself onto a funeral pyre. In the first rhetorical question, the word "this" refers to the scorn and cruelty that the Monster has suffered at the hands of men.

The Monster's final speech is a rousing one, and we cannot help but feel sympathy for the tormented figure. Neither question demands an answer, and yet Shelley makes it clear that men's prejudice was indeed an injustice, and that all prejudiced men are sinners. The inconsistencies in the human worldview are laid bare, here: men who claim to be good and virtuous are blind to their own intolerance. 

Again, the Monster's loneliness has pushed him to commit his many crimes. He only became cruel and vengeful following the De Lacey family's betrayal and Victor's destruction of the female creature. Shelley indicates that isolation, be it the isolation of intellectual ambition or the isolation borne of prejudice, is an important root cause of evil.