Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version | Original Text
CHAPTER SUMMARY AND NOTES
Victor's parents now expect him to study at Ingolstadt. But before he can go ahead with his plans, Elizabeth falls ill with scarlet fever. His mother nurses her back to health but becomes ill herself. She dies soon after, leaving Elizabeth in charge of the younger children and wishing Elizabeth and Victor to get married.
The family gets over the loss of the beloved mother, and Victor prepares to leave for Ingolstadt. It is a sad departure. He reaches his university with mixed feelings; although he had wanted to continue his studies, he did not want to leave his family.
At the university, he meets his professor, M. Krempe, whom he finds rather rude, but knowledgeable. Krempe is contemptuous of Victor's having read the ancient masters (Agrippa et al), and he insists that he begin his studies anew. In total contrast to Krempe is Professor M. Waldman, to whom Victor takes an instant liking due to his mild manners and kind disposition. Victor meets him after a lecture and finds him even more likable. He wants to be a disciple of Waldman's, and with his help, he renews his studies with vigor. He spends sleepless nights thinking about Waldman and his own progress in his field. He visits the laboratory with Waldman, secures the list of required books and begins a new life.
Victor's departure for Ingolstadt is delayed by Elizabeth's illness, which he believes is like an omen of his future misery. Victor is now completely overcome by guilt when he looks back at wanting to pursue his studies in the forbidden field.
This chapter marks Victor's first exposure to death. The death of Caroline, Victor's mother, is followed by a spate of deaths. Strangely enough, she dies taking care of Elizabeth on the sickbed. It is her altruism that leads to her death. This confirms that she is the virtuous, ideal mother: an angel.
Elizabeth is now in charge and plays the role of the strong, stoic figure who understands that things must be managed somehow. Victor prepares to leave for Ingolstadt. Henry, too, would like to join him but is forbidden to do so by his narrow-minded, merchant father. Some sectors of this society require a family profession to be taken up by the children.
Victor is now alone in Ingolstadt; not only is he among strangers, but he feels isolated in his interests. This is the first time that Victor has to face separation from his loved ones. His distress is related in detail.
He meets his professors. M. Krempe appears as a grumpy scientist who is contemptuous of young talent. This merely reinforces Victor's dislike for the ideals of modern, natural philosophy, which focuses on "realities of little worth." He is chiefly interested in the question of immortality and power, however futile this may be. But the reader sees later that Victor is determined to prove otherwise.
M. Waldman is the exact opposite of Krempe. He is more tolerant of the enthusiasm of youth. Victor finds himself changing his opinions about modern science, thanks to Waldman's nature. He is infused with a new spirit of vigor and excitement at returning to his studies in his beloved field. Waldman expresses the opinion that Victor ought not to be just a petty experimentalist, but a man of science, and therefore should devote himself wholly to the study of every branch of natural philosophy. In Victor he finds a willing disciple.