Mary Shelley, Frankenstein (1831), p. 221

"Oh, it is not thus-- not thus," interrupted the being; "yet such must be the impression conveyed to you by what appears to be the purport of my actions. Yet I seek not a fellow-feeling in my misery. No sympathy may I ever find. When I first sought it, it was the love of virtue, the feelings of happiness and affection with which my whole being overflowed, that I wished to be participated. But now, that virtue has become to me a shadow, and that happiness and affection are turned to bitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek for sympathy? I am content to suffer alone, while my sufferings shall endure: when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory. Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings, who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But now crime has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, no misery can be found comparable to mine. When I run over the frightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am the same creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone."

The monster is wrong to refer to Satan as the enemy of man-- the fallen angel only works through man to get at his real target, God. The monster, on the other hand, is no sinner: his greatest crimes are not transgressions against God's order (indeed, this order is hardly visible in Shelley's novel), but against man and society. He is an outsider in two senses: his subjectivity is formed both by exclusion from society-- the community of fellow-feeling-- and by his own autodidacticism-- he learns from books he finds, rather than from interactions with others. Both Frankenstein and Walton are similarly self-educated (Frankenstein, unfortunately, only reads the wrong sort of science books and Walton neglects his literary and linguistic education almost entirely), but they "pass" in normal society because they don't look like monsters. The monster embodies a dangerously self-absorbed sensibility-- not because he is indulgent and sees imagination and fine feeling as an event, but because his sensibility is trapped in his self and has no place to go. His understanding enlarges his heart until it explodes (and he kills), when it should instead flow out and enhance public virtue. Sensibility in utter isolation isn't true sensibility.

Related terms:

a dictionary of sensibility
term list
source bibliography
critical bibliography