From chapter 10 of the Project Gutenberg ebook - or Volume 2, Chapter 3, Page 102 of Penguin Classics edition of Frankenstein (emphasis mine):

My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the feelings which can arm one being against the existence of another.

He easily eluded me and said,

“Be calm! I entreat you to hear me before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it. Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine, my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”

The monster calls Victor his "natural lord." What exactly does this title mean?


The phrase "natural lord and king" (or just "natural lord") refers to the king. There are various examples of this:

The "natural" aspect, as far as I can tell, arises from the principle of divine right - the king is the king by grace of God, and as such, is naturally the subject's lord (unlike other positions in the nobility, which are usually positions created by human law and not God's natural law).

From the context, I do not think the monster is calling Frankenstein his natural lord and king, but is instead talking about the country's king. Note how this conversation starts with Frankenstein berating the monster for the murders he committed:

“Devil,” I exclaimed, “do you dare approach me? And do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! Or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust! And, oh! That I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!”

And in the monster's response to that:

... How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.

From these lines, it seems to me that the monster is saying he will not further violate the king's law - provided Frankenstein fulfills his responsibilities.


The quotation in question:

I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king if thou wilt also perform thy part[.]

The monster says that he [the monster] is Frankenstein's "creature." This is a mildly archaic usage — "creature" as the antonym of "creator." (We still see the word "creature" used this way in the sense of "product" — e.g. "[In Europe, the] Chief Executive is the creature of the legislature." (Oddly enough, the other usage among my first ten Google hits was "[Biden] is a creature of the Senate"!) Anyway, the monster meant, and might just as well have said, "You are my creator, and I will be even mild and docile..."

Furthermore, the monster's sentence uses parallel construction:

I will [be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king] if thou wilt [also perform the part thou owest me.]

That is, "I [Adam] will fulfill my duties to you [Frankenstein], if and only if you [Frankenstein] will fulfill your duties to me [Adam]."

Further further, the monster has just finished saying,

But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee.

The monster will not oppose his creator; rather, he will be mild and docile towards him.

In short: The "natural lord and master king" of a created being is that being's creator. In the case of Frankenstein's monster, his creator — and thus his natural lord — is Victor Frankenstein.


In Studies in Words, C.S. Lewis has an entire chapter on "natural" -- which does discuss "natural lord" -- but a short version is that a "natural lord" is someone whose claim to being a lord (or ruler) is by birth, or (by analogy to the first) someone whose claim to rule is thoroughly just and legitimate. (I note here that the usage is older than the theory of the divine right of kings.)

The monster is saying that because Frankenstein made him, Frankenstein has the legitimate right to command him.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.