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Free Study Guide-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Free Chapter Summary Notes
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CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES

CHAPTER 1

Summary

The actual tale of Victor Frankenstein, whom the reader first encountered as the stranger, begins here. He was born in Geneva and hails from a family of high repute. His father was married late in life.

The episode dealing with his father's marriage is explained at length. Beaufort, a friend of his father's, fell into unfortunate circumstances and left the town with his daughter since he did not want to live a life of humiliating poverty. Victor's father searched for him and even offered to help, but in vain. When her father became ill, Beaufort's daughter, Caroline, tried her best to make ends meet. But her father eventually died, leaving her an orphan. Victor's father took her under his wing and later married her.

Although there is a considerable age difference between the two, they live a happy life and spend time in Italy, Germany and France. Victor (the narrator), their oldest child, accompanies them everywhere. Caroline longs to have a daughter, and by some quirk of fate, they come across a beautiful girl from a poor family on one of their regular rounds in the slums. They are in Milan at the time. Caroline later visits the family again and decides to adopt the girl. Victor's father is in favor of the idea, as he is always eager to please his wife in every way. The father of this girl was an Italian soldier, who died during the war. The girl grows up in a foster family until she is adopted by Victor and Caroline.


Victor's family is complete when he receives a playmate in Elizabeth, his "more than sister," whom he loves, protects and cherishes until death.

Notes

The friendship between Victor's father and Beaufort, as well as that between Victor and Elizabeth, is significant. The impulse toward friendship is an underlying Romantic theme which the reader has already seen in the intimate bond developing between Robert and Victor. Even the sub-human monster, as will be seen in later chapters, makes efforts to befriend a family.

Details about Victor's parentage are presented. In this way, the chapter presents a neat beginning of a life story. It is interesting to note that the age difference between Victor's parents never hampers their relationship. This shows how much they actually need each other. Victor, senior would do anything to keep Caroline happy after what she has been through. The author chooses to focus on the father's love for Caroline and says little about her love for him.

The benevolence of the couple is proven by their customary visits to poor families and by their adoption of a child who is a complete stranger. But the physical appearance of the child, Elizabeth, who is fair, blond and blue-eyed, suggests that she possesses a "northern" beauty, although she is found in Italy. Such unusual juxtapositions are common in Romantic literature.

Victor relates how he looks upon Elizabeth as his own to protect and to cherish. It is interesting to note the ambiguity with which the author describes this relationship between siblings, as Elizabeth is "more than sister" to Victor.

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