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Free Study Guide-Frankenstein by Mary Shelley-Free Chapter Summary Notes
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Victor Frankenstein

He is a young scientist, thirsty for knowledge. He studies the forbidden sciences, questions the principle of life and gives birth to an "inhuman" creature. In this venture, he overreaches himself. He gathers tremendous knowledge, defies his parents and dabbles in the supernatural. He shows a natural human tendency to pursue the forbidden. But his knowledge nevertheless leaves him ignorant of the consequences of his act. His burning ambition influences him in such a way that he is no more an ordinary mortal but can be compared to Dr. Faustus. (Faustus, or Faust, is a character from literature and legend who enters into a pact with the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.) Victor undergoes emotional and mental change. He suffers from feelings of remorse and guilt at seeing the untimely deaths of the people around him. However, he never once truly repents for what he has done. Instead his fury is always directed against the monster. He is afraid of confessing his guilt for fear of being labeled a madman.

One can say that he never really changes as a person. In the end, one sees this clearly, as he reprimands the sailors for wanting to go back home empty-handed. He tells them to be "men," who fight and conquer all obstacles. The burning ambition has still not left him. And he still believes he can avenge his family's death by killing the monster.

Elizabeth Lavenza

The kind, gentle female who is "more than sister" to Victor and "more than daughter" to his father marries Victor. Her devotion to Victor is total and undying. Elizabeth's love for Victor rivals the love of Caroline for Alphonse. In this case it is Elizabeth's love which gains prominence, and not Victor's.

Elizabeth has never complained of the ambiguity of their relationship. She has totally given up her life for the Frankenstein family, raising William and Ernest as her own children. She is a fearless being, ready to stand up for what she believes is right. When the whole world turns its back on the innocent Justine, Elizabeth defends her. She even blames herself for William's death because she had given him the miniature of Caroline, for which, it is presumed, he was murdered.

Elizabeth, too, falls prey to the monster because she is an important part of Victor's life. The monster exacts vengeance by depriving Victor of such total love and devotion.

Henry Clerval

He is a devoted friend to Victor. He is like a savior, coming at the right time to rescue Victor from the brink of destruction. He wants to be with him so that they can study together and share their joys and sorrows. In short, he wants to be the perfect friend. It is tragic that Victor does not trust him enough to reveal his deepest, darkest secret to him.

Henry is a perceptive person, and he knows when something is amiss. He is one of the few people who knows how to manage Victor during a crisis.

Henry is a very caring person. It is he who nurses Victor back to health. He stays by his side day and night and gives him cheerful company to raise his spirits. He keeps memories of the laboratory away from Victor, because he knows Victor has developed an aversion for the place. This indicates that Henry is aware that Victor has been up to something. However, he has the decency not to intrude upon Victor's privacy.

He, too, sacrifices his life for Victor's ambitions.

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