Weird Time in Frankenstein

Elisa Gabbert at The Paris Review:

I wondered whether Shelley’s misfortunes in the 1820s were also responsible for the novel’s obsession with loneliness. Everyone in the story, in particular the three men who take control of the narrative in turn—if the monster can be called a man—longs desperately for companionship. Walton writes, in his second letter posted from Archangel, a Russian port on the White Sea: “I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret … You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend.” He does not expect to find one on the ocean, but he does, in Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein left his lifelong friends behind to attend university; it may be his isolation that leads him astray. The monster’s loneliness is especially keen. He calls the poor cottagers, who are ignorant of his existence, his friends: “When they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their joys. I saw few human beings besides them, and if any other happened to enter the cottage, their harsh manners and rude gait only enhanced to me the superior accomplishments of my friends.”

more here.