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

CHAPTER 21

Summary

Victor is charged with murder and the case is supported by circumstantial evidence. The witnesses, a man, his son and brother-in-law, were out fishing. They had landed at a creek and the main witness had stumbled upon the body of a man. They tried everything to restore his life but failed. The corpse apparently had finger marks on his neck. This information reminds Victor of William's death. The main witness gives additional information, saying that he saw a single man out in a boat that night. The people conclude that Victor was trying to leave the scene of the crime, but that the wind had steered his boat back to the land.

Victor is told to identify the body, and he is shocked to find that it is Henry's. He breaks into convulsions and takes to bed for over two months.

Mr. Kirwin, the magistrate, has in the meanwhile contacted Victor's family, and his father arrives to see him. Thanks to Mr. Kirwin's efforts, Victor is spared criminal charges and allowed to return home. They sail on a vessel bound for Havre-de-Grâce. Victor tries to sleep but has a nightmare. He is now taking laudanum every night in order to be able to rest.

Notes

The chapter reinforces the similarity between Victor's situation and the monster's. Both are lost and hopeless and in a foreign land. Both are received at first with hostility; while Victor finds a benefactor in Mr. Kirwin, the monster gets some comfort from the De Lacey family. It is largely due to Mr. Kirwin that Victor is taken care of and reunited with his father.


Victor now seems to be paying for his ambition. He is going through the very same situation that Justine suffered through: he is tried for a murder that he has not committed.

Victor again asks for death as a form of escape. He cannot bear the anguish any longer. He asks for forgetfulness and rest. He wonders why he is still alive after so many shocks. And he wonders if he is alive only to be miserable and to suffer.

The author mentions class difference in this chapter. A nurse, the wife of one of the prison guards, represents the lower class. The prejudices of the higher class against the lower are reflected in Victor's statement that the nurse possesses bad qualities, which characterize her class.

The mood here is rather depressing. Words such as "gloomy," "frightful" and "misery" are constantly used.

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