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Free Study Guide-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Free Chapter Summary Notes
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KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The novel starts with a sea-captain writing from St. Petersburg to his sister in England. Robert Walton, the sea-captain, is traveling towards the North Pole via Archangel when he encounters Victor Frankenstein. The focus of the book then shifts to Victor Frankenstein, whose story begins in Geneva, Switzerland, where he is born. Other European cities, which Victor's parents visit early in their marriage, are mentioned.

At the age of seventeen, Victor leaves for the university at Ingolstadt, where he spends six years. He creates the monster in an old deserted house in this city.

The novel is set mainly in Geneva against the backdrop of the Swiss Alps. Plainpalais in Geneva is the place where Frankenstein loses his brother, William. The mountains and lakes of Switzerland are prominent in the protagonist's life. Victor seeks refuge in the village and valley of Chamounix. For a change of scenery, Victor stays at his house in Belrive. It is on Montanvert that Victor encounters the monster.


The story of the monster is set largely in Germany, since he is created in Ingolstadt. He spends much time by a cottage in the hills of Germany, where he observes the De Lacey family. But the narrative is not restricted to Europe alone. The De Lacey family originates in France and has ties to the Near East. The monster wanders about in the woods and mountains of Europe. He crosses them in order to reach Geneva.

Victor wishes to travel abroad. He begins with a trip to England. Then he and Henry meet at Strasbourg and descend the Rhine River to Rotterdam, from where they head for London. From London they proceed to Perth, Scotland. Victor travels the northern highlands, and on a remote island he finds the place where he can create the second monster.

The action now moves to Ireland, where Victor finds himself lost. His father and he are then bound for Havrede-Grâce, away from the Irish shores. They then proceed to Paris and later leave for Geneva again, where Elizabeth and Victor enjoy their courtship. They get married and spend some brief time on the shores of Lake Como, where Elizabeth has inherited property. Victor returns to Geneva alone, but leaves soon afterward in search of the monster. Later, the readers are taken along the Rhine and visit the Mediterranean and Black Seas, as well as the wilds of Tartary and Russia. The action eventually reaches the North Pole, where Robert and Victor meet. Robert is forced to return to England.

Thus, the novel is set all over Europe. The North Pole is uncharted territory for Robert, but for Victor, it is a place where he can destroy the monster.

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