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

CHAPTER 7

Summary

Victor is now expecting a letter from his family giving him a fixed date to return home. Instead, he receives news of William's murder. The letter relates how Victor's father, Elizabeth, William and Ernest had gone for a walk in Plainpalais, when William suddenly got lost. All attempts to find him proved futile. They also checked the house, but he was not to be found. The next morning they found William's body lying on the grass. It is presumed that he was murdered; a miniature portrait of Caroline that William carried with him is now missing. Elizabeth holds herself responsible for William's death because she had given him the miniature of Caroline that the murderer was apparently willing to kill for. The letter ends on a note of hope, with his father appealing to Victor to return home as soon as possible.

Clerval, too, is disturbed by the news. Victor now leaves for Geneva immediately. On his way, he observes scenes that he has not witnessed in six years. He remains at Lausanne for two days and resumes his journey later.

It is dark as he reaches Geneva. The town gates are already shut. So he passes the night at Secheron, a village some distance away from the city. He decides to visit the spot where William was murdered. He crosses the lake in a boat to arrive at Plainpalais. This is where he sees the "filthy demon to whom I had given life." He suddenly realizes that the monster must certainly be William's murderer. He decides to pursue him, but the monster disappears on the summit.


The next morning he leaves for town. He considers seeking out the murderer but admits it is futile. He realizes that people around him would never believe his story. He reaches home early in the morning but does not wake the family. Ernest arrives to welcome him and informs him that the murderer is Justine Moritz. Victor is shocked and denies the charge. But the circumstances do not seem to favor Justine. The mystery around William's murder is supposedly discovered: one of the servants has found the miniature of Caroline in the pocket of Justine's dress. This confirms her involvement in the crime.

Neither Victor nor Elizabeth wants Justine to be punished because they believe that she is not guilty. Victor repeatedly vouches for her innocence. He assures the family that she will be proved innocent and acquitted. The chapter ends with the family hoping that the law will save the innocent Justine.

Notes

Just as Victor is starting to live life afresh, he receives the news of William's murder. This proves to be another setback for him. When he leaves for Geneva, nostalgia captivates his imagination. The author deliberately focuses on nature in this chapter. This reinforces the fact that nature has not changed, but Victor, who once sought solace in nature, now feels threatened by the very sight of it.

The style of description changes as well. The narration assumes a sharper tone, and events become more dramatic, with the occurrence of storms and lightning. Secondly, nature at this moment (the storms and the lightning) seem to be highly symbolic of the constant turmoil in Victor's mind. To add to the mood of foreboding, he spots "the monster" once again, which revives all his past memories. He spends a sleepless night in the open and talks of the creature as an extension of his own evil nature. He feels that "his own spirit let loose from the grave and forced to destroy all that was dear to me."

The news of Justine Moritz's trial for murdering William comes as an even greater shock and only adds to the consciousness of his guilt. Yet he knows he is nearly helpless in the case. No one would believe his story. But at the same time, it is strange that Victor does not stand up for Justine's case by proving her innocent.

Victor's naïveté leads h im to believe that he can still protect Justine, despite concrete evidence. Victor's father and Elizabeth, in the meanwhile, are also highly disturbed by recent events. Victor's father becomes convinced by circumstantial evidence and is sure that Justine has been ungrateful. However, Elizabeth staunchly believes that she is not guilty. This reveals the loyalty of Elizabeth's character. She would do anything to have Justine saved from the gallows and trusts Victor completely. He does not want to see Justine die, but he does not have the moral courage to offer the proof that will refute the charges.

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