Analysing the extract

The question

Starting with this extract, discuss how Victor's ambitions go so badly wrong.

As part of your answer you will need to analyse what the passage shows about Victor's ambition being fulfilled.

Look at the highlighted points in the extract below that you could write about in an answer. Think about what Shelley is telling the reader about the situation at this point in time.

It was on a (1) dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the (2) lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already (1) one in the morning; (1) the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and (1) my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the (3) dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.

(4) 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 beautiful. (5) 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 (6) 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 (7) 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, (8) 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, (9) I rushed out of the room.

From chapter 5

  • (1) 'dreary night of November' / 'one in the morning' / 'the rain pattered dismally' / 'my candle was nearly burnt out' - The details of the setting contrast with the thrill which Victor should be experiencing but mirror the reality of the situation.
  • (2) 'lifeless thing' - Even Victor himself cannot think of his creation as a person.
  • (3) 'dull yellow eye' - The first indication that there is something wrong.
  • (4) 'How can I describe my emotions...?' - Victor cannot find words to describe his feelings.
  • (5) 'Beautiful! - Great God!' - The turning point when Victor realises what he has created.
  • (6) 'horrid contrast' - Some of the Monster's individual features may be appealing but overall it is hideous.
  • (7) 'two years' - Shelley reminds us how long Victor has spent on this project.
  • (8) 'the beauty of the dream vanished' - The dream is about to become a nightmare.
  • (9) 'I rushed out of the room' - Victor's first physical act is to run away.