Victor again shows his obsession with learning and he devotes most of his
time to schoolwork. He soon gains a reputation as an inventor and controversial scientist amongst the professors and students alike.
He wishes to explore the possibility of creating life from death and the
ultimate challenge would be to animate a dead body. In order to pursue this experimentation, he obtains body parts from morgues and cemeteries surreptitiously.
He is now constantly working to succeed in this task obtaining very little sleep, and this affects both his health and his power of reasoning. The cycle of gory work carries on for months, and Victor has more or less cut himself off from the outside world, and in recent months he has failed to respond to letters received from home.
In this chapter, Shelley brings to fruition the notion that science has an
evil side to it.
The main theme of the novel is now laid bare, and that is that knowledge must always be used for good and not evil. She makes this point based on her own romantic background, and perhaps her na've outlook regarding science and technology.
Shelley holds back from giving the reader a full description of how the
monster is created. Clearly this would be too much for the 19th century reader. She makes it plain, however, that the monster’s formation is the result of evil work, and the ultimate creation has, therefore, a Gothic element. This is perhaps demonstrated in Victor’s following quotation, “I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself, or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man.”
Deep down, Victor knows that his work is wrong, but he justifies his actions
by saying, “If no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared his country, America would have been
discovered more gradually, and the Empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.”
Shelley makes the point here that Victor’s state of mind must be in question
in that he can boost his own ego by making references to famous discoveries of the past. She also warns the reader that man must always be in control of science and not vice versa - when man’s experiments
usurp the power of God, then that work is evil.