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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.
Revenge Theme Icon

The monster begins its life with a warm, open heart. But after it is abandoned and mistreated first by Victor and then by the De Lacey family, the monster turns to revenge. The monster's actions are understandable: it has been hurt by the unfair rejection of a humanity that cannot see past its own prejudices, and in turn wants to hurt those who hurt it. As the monster says when Felix attacks it and flees with the rest of the De Lacey family, "...feelings of revenge and hatred filled my bosom...[and] I bent my mind towards injury and death." But in taking revenge, two things happen to the monster. First, it ensures that it will never be accepted in human society. Second, because by taking revenge the monster eliminates any hope of ever joining human society, which is what it really wants, revenge becomes the only thing it has. As the monster puts it, revenge became "dearer than light or food."

Revenge does not just consume the monster, however. It also consumes Victor, the victim of the monster's revenge. After the monster murders Victor's relatives, Victor vows a "great and signal revenge on [the monster's] cursed head." In a sense then, the very human desire for revenge transforms both Victor and the monster into true monsters that have no feelings or desires beyond destroying their foe.

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Revenge Quotes in Frankenstein

Below you will find the important quotes in Frankenstein related to the theme of Revenge.
Chapter 13 Quotes
When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?
Related Characters: The Monster (speaker)
Page Number: 83
Explanation and Analysis:

The Monster has taught himself to speak and read by careful observation of the cottage dwellers. Their discussions become increasingly complex with Safie's appearance and, as they discuss man's nature, the Monster questions his own identity, his unusual origins and appearance.

This heightened awareness and new knowledge are crucial to the Monster's development, yet also dangerous and disturbing — he longs for a state of innocence, a wordless "native wood." The Monster feels a justified anger, but this anger comes only from a newfound knowledge of his own abnormality.

Shelley does not mock or scorn his isolation: instead, it is a horrible thing, devastating to the Monster and readers alike. A life at the fringes of society is not always an admirable one, and Shelley does not glamorize or idealize the novel's Romantic heroes, solitary and conflicted figures. Prejudice will indeed push men to run from the Monster, and prejudice will deny him the chance at a happy, domestic life.


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Chapter 20 Quotes
You can blast my other passions, but revenge remainsrevenge, henceforth dearer than light of food! I may die, but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery.
Related Characters: The Monster (speaker), Victor Frankenstein
Related Symbols: Light
Page Number: 120
Explanation and Analysis:

At the beginning of Chapter 20, Victor toils in his laboratory, creating a female companion for the Monster. However, as he considers the Monster's many crimes, he concludes that a female companion might exacerbate rather than solve the problem. He destroys his work and the Monster eventually confronts him, vowing revenge.

Victor has eliminated the possibility of companionship and love in the Monster's life once and for all: in consequence, revenge becomes the Monster's only motivating desire. (The repetition of "revenge" and the exclamation mark indicate that this is a pivotal moment, in which the stakes are high.) The Monster has watched humans (notably the De Lacey family) reject him, and has now seen Victor destroy the very creature that could have secured his happiness.

Light appears again in this section, bearing its telltale ambiguous significance. Here, the sun seems particularly foreboding (prompting a curse from Victor) and the quote itself is a threat, an assurance of miseries still to come.

Chapter 22 Quotes
If for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself forever from my native country and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth than have consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I thought that I had prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim.
Related Characters: Victor Frankenstein (speaker), The Monster, Elizabeth Lavenza
Page Number: 137
Explanation and Analysis:

Victor has returned to Geneva, following Henry's death and his own nervous illness. He has become engaged to Elizabeth — and though he thinks about the Monster's final threat a great deal ("I will be with you on your wedding night"), he fails to understand that Elizabeth is in danger.Shelley makes no attempt to disguise Elizabeth's future demise in this section: we have no doubt that the "far dearer victim" is Victor's fiancée.

Victor believes he has grasped the situation, and this arrogant certainty "blinds" him to the truth. (He even announces that the Monster "blinded [him] to his real intentions.") Victor's ambition and his fallibility are inextricable: beset by lofty desires (either for revenge, glory, or the peace of death), he cannot always see the reality of a situation.

Shelley reminds us of Victor's curious position, at once a loving family member and an outcast, and the word "native" is crucial to this quote. It should remind us of Chapter 4, when Victor tells Walton that a "man who believes his native town to be the world" is happier than an ambitious one. Victor is too caught up in his research to belong to his family or his environment; like Robert Walton and the Monster, he is not at home in the world. Shelley does not present this as a desirable state.