Did Elizabeth, in Frankenstein, feel guilty for the death of her mother? If so, can you please indicate where in the novel she was feeling guilty.

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Elizabeth Lavenza, from Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, essentially had three mothers.

Elizabeth's birth mother, a German, died giving birth to Elizabeth. The father, a Milanese nobleman, had given a peasant family (mother number two) control over the child. The family, unable to care for the child due to their poverty (and four other children), allowed Caroline Frankenstein to take the child to care for as her own.

Caroline Frankenstein, Victor's mother, then contracted Scarlet Fever while nursing Elizabeth of the same illness. While Elizabeth recovered from the illness, Scarlet Fever took Caroline's life. In order to care for the other Frankensteins, Elizabeth pushed her own grief aside. Therefore, while one could assume that Elizabeth felt guilty for giving Caroline the deadly illness, her behavior following Caroline's death shows her to not feel guilt for her "mother's" death.

She indeed veiled her grief, and strove to act the comforter to us all. She looked steadily on life, and assumed its duties with courage and zeal. She devoted herself to those whom she had been taught to call her uncle and cousins. Never was she so enchanting as at this time when she recalled the sunshine of her smiles and spent them upon us. She forgot even her own regret in her endeavours to make us forget.

Essentially, Elizabeth did not know her birth mother (and most likely did not know that her birth caused her death) and her guilt regarding it would not exist. Nothing is ever said about the fate of the peasant woman who cared for Elizabeth. The death of Caroline, while the result of Elizabeth's illness, was pushed aside so that Elizabeth could care for the Frankenstein family.


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