Souvenirs de la maison des morts
par Fiodor Dostoïevski
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Winter starts to thaw and it gets closer to spring. Felix seems particularly unhappy, but the other cottagers are not happy either. Eventually a lovely woman arrives at the cottage on a horse. She is wearing a dark-colored dress and a veil. She asks to see Felix, who is thrilled to see her. The woman does not speak the same language as the people in the cottage. Her name is Safie. The mood of everyone in the cottage brightens when she moves in, and they people who live in the cottage set out to teach her their language. The monster learns right along with her. He learns to read and learns about the history of the world. Once he can speak and read he can listen to the conversation of the cottagers and keep up with what is happening in the human society of which he longs to be a part. He realizes that will not be possible because of the way he looks. He also sees what it is like to be part of a family, and that knowledge only makes his isolation more painful.
This chapter is particularly important in the reader's understanding of the monster's development. He is no longer seen as a creature, but as a human being. He has been created and he longs to be a part of everything. Since he cannot, he is frequently angry and upset. It is a very understandable emotion. The killings he has done are actually rather out of character for him, and came about because he was emotionally overwhelmed due to rejection by his creator. While they are not excusable, they are understandable in that sense. Victor is actually the one at fault for the killings but he is not willing to recognize this. He is also not willing to do what he can to help the monster feel better or to provide him with anything that will bring him happiness. With his willingness to go into the ice cave and listen to the monster there is a spark of hope that he may have a change of heart and better come to understand his creation. That could lead to a better outcome for everyone involved.
Eventually the monster is able to determine how the cottagers came to be where they are. The old man who lives there is named De Lacey. He lived in Paris, and Agatha and Felix are is children. They had a lot of money and were very successful. The community loved and respected them. Safie's father was a Turk and had been accused of a crime he did not commit. His sentence was death. Felix went to the prison to visit the man and that is where he met Safie, who he instantly fell in love with. Felix tried to help Safie's father, and Safie sent him letters thanking him for this. She also told him the circumstances she was facing. The monster says to Victor that he copied down a few of the letters. He offers to show them to Victor as proof that he is not making up the story. In the letters, Safie tells Felix that her mother was an Arab and a Christian. Before she married Safie's father, she had been a slave of the Turks.
Safie's mother raised her to be smart and independent, but Safie knew that Islam did not want Turkish women to cultivate and develop those kinds of qualities. If she remained in Turkey, Safie would be little more than a slave to her future husband. Instead of accepting that, Safie wanted to marry a European man who would treat her as a person and not as a piece of property he owned. Felix was able to help Safie's father get away from prison. However, the plot was eventually uncovered and De Lacey, Agatha, and Felix were all exiled. They had to leave France, and all of their wealth was stripped from them. They moved into the little cottage in Germany. The Turk wanted Safie to go back to Constantinople with him, but she refused. She knew where Felix was, so she took that knowledge and a little bit of money she had access to, and she escaped. Her journey was perilous and she is now on outcast from her family, but she was not willing to give up her freedom and the things that mattered the most to her in order to be a slave to someone else.
One night while the monster is in the woods looking for food he finds an abandoned satchel that has books and clothing in it. He takes the books to the hovel and starts to read them. One of the books is Paradise Lost by John Milton. The monster does not understand that it is fictional, and he thinks that the story is similar to what he is facing in his own life. He goes through the pockets of the clothing he stole from Victor's apartment a long time ago and finds a few papers that came out of Victor's journal. Now that he can read he learns how he was created and how much disgust Victor had for him. He is highly upset by this and decides he must let the cottagers see him. If they can befriend him and realize who he is on the inside, he will have something valuable in his life. He waits until Agatha, Felix, and Safie are all away. He wants to befriend De Lacey first, because the old man is blind. When he goes into the cottage he nervously starts to talk to De Lacey.
If he can make friends with someone who cannot see what he looks like, it is possible that person will be able to convince others that he does not mean any harm and that he cannot help how he looks. As the monster starts to explain his situation to the old man, Agatha, Felix, and Safie come back. They were not expected to be back so soon. Felix is horrified by the way the monster looks, and drives him out of the cottage and away from them. He does not have a chance to plead his case. De Lacey does not stand up for him because he has not gotten to know him enough to form an opinion. He is still a stranger, and the reaction from those who can see him is just as strong as it ever was. He runs from the cottage and disappears in the woods. He cannot stay in the hovel any longer, watching he cottagers, knowing that they have also rejected him just like the rest of the world and his creator have done. He has nowhere to go and develops a hatred of humanity.
Because of the pain of the rejection by the cottagers the monster decides that he is going to get revenge against all of humanity. He is particularly interested in seeking revenge against Victor for creating him. He wanders around for months and stays out of sight of everyone so no one else will run from him or try to hurt him in some way. He is heading for Geneva. While he is on his journey he sees a young girl who appears to be all by herself in the woods. She falls into a stream and the monster thinks she will drown there. Because he still has compassion he rescues her, but he is shot by a man who was accompanying her. Naturally, the man thinks the monster was trying to attack the girl, because nothing that looks as hideous as the monster could possibly be good or kind. He does not realize that she was being rescued and that the monster did not mean her any harm. The monster then moves closer to Geneva, where he finds William Frankenstein in the woods.
William is just a child and is not as afraid of the monster as many of the adults are. He tells the monster that Alphonse Frankenstein is his father. The mention of the Frankenstein name sends the monster into a rage. He grabs William and uses only his bare hands to strangle the boy. Then he takes the picture of Caroline that William was holding and puts it into the dress pocket of a girl he finds asleep in a barn. That girl is Justine Moritz, who is found guilty of William's murder and executed for it. Once he has told all of this to Victor, he asks his creator to make another monster like him so he can have a mate and a companion. That is all he really wants. If he is notable to have a companion of some kind he will be doomed to wander the world alone. No human being will have anything to do with him – even his creator who worked so hard to bring him to life does not want him. The sadness and the loneliness the monster is facing are palpable.
The monster believes he is justified in having a female companion for himself, but he knows that the only way to do so is to get Victor to make one. There is no human woman who would want to be with him. Victor at first says no, but the monster is very eloquent in appealing to the sense of responsibility Victor has as the person who created him in the first place. He tells Victor about how desperately, painfully lonely he has been, and that he would have not committed his violent actions if he had a companion. He promises he will take his companion and leave the area. They will go hide in the jungles of South America where they will not have to worry about any contact with humans. He will not want to kill any more if he has a companion for sympathy and understanding. Eventually, Victor is swayed by the arguments and agrees. The monster says he will monitor the progress, so he will know if Victor is actually making a companion for him.
Victor is not happy about the arrangement and does not like the idea of being monitored by the monster, but he knows that he has little choice if he is going to ever be free again. If he is able to create another monster, the first monster will be happy and will leave him alone. There will not be any more deaths and Victor will be able to start the process of healing from the damage he has caused for himself and his family. No one will have to know the real truth if he does not want to tell them, and he will never have to see the monster again. That thought brings him some comfort, but he is still not at ease with his decision or with the idea of a second monster. He worries about the things that could go wrong but comes to the conclusion that there is little he can do if he is ever going to be free of this terrible burden of the monster. Still he does not acknowledge that this is all his doing, and that he has brought this all on himself. He blames the monster and not himself as the monster's creator.
Even though Victor has agreed to make a new, female monster as a companion for his original creation, he puts off doing so for as long as he can. He is starting to have doubts about the safety of doing something like that. He knows he will have to go back to England and gather a lot of information and research. Creating another monster will take time. His father sees how troubled he is a good bit of the time, and asks whether his upcoming marriage to Elizabeth is making him unhappy. Victor tells him that marrying Elizabeth is the only happy thing he has. Because Alphonse wants to see his son happy again, he suggests that Victor and Elizabeth get married right away. Victor says no. He does not want to tell his father about the obligation to the monster, but he does not want to get married to Elizabeth until he has completed that obligation. He says that he wants to go to England for a while first, and Alphonse consents to it if it will raise Victor's spirits.
They decide Henry Clerval will go with Victor, and they will take a two-year tour. Henry has been working with his father for several years in Geneva. He has not enjoyed the work and he wants to begin more of a life on his own. He also wants to study, and he cannot do so while working with and for his father. Victor and Henry travel around England for a while, just enjoying the country, and eventually come to London. The two young men are able to reconnect with one another and enjoy their friendship again. Victor does not forget his obligation, but he is able to get some joy in doing something different that is not related to science in any way. While he used to love science he has not been able to look at it the same way since the night he brought his creation to life. Science has lost its appeal for him and he desperately wants to forget what he has learned and how it has managed to bring him so much heartache that seems as though it will never end.Inscrivez-vous pour trouver des essais sur Fiodor Dostoïevski >