Published Title: 

“Hear My Tale”

Section type: 

Chapter 11 marks the beginning of what was originally published as Volume II in the 1818 edition of Frankenstein; the “three-volume novel” was standard for works in the 19th century. This chapter also marks the beginning of the story as told in the Creature’s voice. He begins by recanting his confused early memories of light and dark, of hunger and thirst, and seeking shade and refuge in the forest near Ingolstadt.

The Creature discovers fire. He also discovers what it is like to be shunned: “children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country, and fearfully took refuge in a low hovel, quite bare.” The hovel is behind a cottage.

Inhabiting the cottage are a blind old man, De Lacey, of “silver hair and benevolent countenance”; his “ever-gentle” daughter Agatha; and his “sorrowful” son Felix. The Creature discovers much: their many kindnesses and acts of love and sacrifice for each other — and that he can contribute, too, by secretly gathering firewood for them during the night — and “one of the causes of the uneasiness of this amiable family: it was poverty; and they suffered that evil in a very distressing degree.”

He also discovers language, and that, as much as he longs to make himself known to and join them, “I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language; which knowledge might enable me to make them overlook the deformity of my figure.” Their judgment will be critical: “I looked upon them as superior beings, who would be the arbiters of my future destiny.”

The arrival of Safie, Felix’s “sweet Arabian” beloved, speeds the Creature’s acquisition of language as he follows along with the family’s attempts to teach Safie their French. With language, the Creature learns about people, power, property, and more. Felix’s attempts to save Safie’sTurkish father from local French authorities had resulted in the De Laceys’ losing everything.