In Frankenstein, Chapter 15

I cherished hope, it is true, but it vanished when I beheld my person reflected in water or my shadow in the moonshine, even as that frail image and that inconstant shade.

Monster's hope vanished when it saw its horrible image.

But what does ", even as that frail image and that inconstant shade." indicate here?

Does the "even as" and "that" in this sentence serve for?

1 Answer 1


Examining the sentence, which says "I beheld my person", it mentions two ways in which the speaker does that:

a) reflected in water

b) shadow in the moonshine

The two phrases further on in the sentence, about which you ask, refer to those two images, respectively:

a) that frail image (reflected in water)

b) that inconstant shade (the shadow)

What "even as" does, is to say that the speaker's appearance was horrible, even when seen indirectly in those ways.

So to paraphrase the sentence:

I hoped that I did not look awful, but even mere suggestions of my appearance were enough to destroy that hope.

  • I'm not sure about your What "even as" does bit. It looks to me more like My hope vanished just as / in the same way as my shadow and reflection vanished. I suppose the reason his hope vanished when / upon seeing his image was because it was horrible, but that doesn't seem to be directly relevant to the words even as. Jul 3, 2019 at 17:00
  • @FumbleFingers perhaps it was meant like that, but wouldn't there have been another verb in the phrase? For example did or disappeared as the last word in the sentence. It makes sense to me when seen as "it vanished when I beheld my person ... even as that frail image and that inconstant shade" Jul 3, 2019 at 17:08
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    @FumbleFingers Ah! So, even better: it vanished . . .even as did that frail image and that inconstant shade. Jul 3, 2019 at 17:18
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    @JasonBassford: Ha! Or far more stylised even as vanished that frail image and that inconstant shade (after all, did is just shorthand for did vanish or vanished here anyway). Jul 3, 2019 at 17:20
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    Perhaps you are right, and should post answers. I did not see that possible meaning when I read the sentence. We can't ask Mary Shelley, though perhaps there are notes. Jul 3, 2019 at 17:26

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