Edmund Burke defines sympathy as the ability to understand the feelings of another individual as if they are your own. A passage in Frankenstein that embodies this ability is when the creature is relating his first experience watching the De Lacey family:
“The silver hair and benevolent countenance of the aged cottager won my reverence, while the gentle manners of the girls enticed my love. He played a sweet mournful air, which I perceived drew tears from the eyes of his amiable companion, of which the old man took no notice, until she sobbed audibly; he then pronounced a few sounds, and the fair creature, leaving her work, knelt at his feet. He raised her, and smiled with such kindness and affection, that I felt sensations of a peculiar and overpowering nature: they were a mixture of pain and pleasure, such as I had never before experienced, either from hunger or cold, warmth or food; and I withdrew from the window, unable to bear these emotions.” (pg. 100)
At this point in his short, strange life the monster is essentially a child cast out away from its creator, Dr. Frankenstein. The creature has had no interaction with humanity or society, yet by watching the interaction between the elder De Lacey and his family, the monster is overcome with emotions that it has no conscious understanding of. Burke contends that feelings of sympathy are a universal experience shared by all mankind, so if the monster can feel the same emotions, it is potentially human as well, despite its unorthodox creation. The language that the creature uses also underscores the primal nature of its sympathetic feelings. It can only relate the feeling as being a combination of two simplistic notions; pain and pleasure (feelings which Burke interestingly also postulates upon), and it can only know it is an unusual feeling because it is different from cold, warmth, food, and hunger – even baser urges of life. Through Burke’s idea of sympathy, the monster displays that he has human emotions and tendencies, even if society seems to think otherwise.