How does Victor describe his early childhood? How does he describe himself as a child?

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thanatassa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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Victor’s childhood is portrayed as having many external advantages, and his family was described as “loving”. His parents are citizens of the Italian city of Genoa. His ancestors are described as politically important within the city and his parents as “most distinguished.” He is the eldest of three children. His mother dies when he is young and his father appears to have been busy with important offices in the city government, thus causing the child to be raised by servants and schoolmasters, a situation similar to that of Mary Shelley’s husband Percy (who may have been the model for Victor). Victor shows an early interest in and aptitude for science.

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mlsldy3 | Elementary School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator

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Victor Frankenstein sees his childhood as a happy one. He remembers how his parents doted on him and loved him dearly. His parents were very well off and came from a long line of distinguished people. They are very wealthy and have no problem showering their son with love and affection. From an early age, Victor saw his mother caring for the less fortunate. 

Victor remembers that he had a happy childhood and said his parents were possessed by the spirit of kindness and indulgence. When he was with his friends and saw the way their parents acted, he felt fortunate and grateful to have the parents he did. Victor admits that he had a bad temper. He also acknowledges that he had a thirst for learning. He didn't want to learn about the usual things, though, he wanted to learn about heaven and earth. His mother dies when he is young and he is left to be raised by the servants of the family. This is a precursor that leads to his break with reality in the future. He loved his parents dearly and they gave him unconditional love, but with the death of his mother, his lost wasn't just for the person but also for the love he always felt from her.

"My mother's tender caresses, and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me, are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol and something better---their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by Heaven." 

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favoritethings | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Senior Educator

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In some ways, Victor describes his childhood as idyllic. In chapter one, he says, "My parents were indulgent, and my companions amiable." There really was no disciplinary figure in the home, but neither did such a figure seem necessary at the time. Victor continues, 

My father directed our studies, and my mother partook of our enjoyments [...]; the voice of command was never heard amongst us; but mutual affection engaged us all to comply with and obey the slightest desire of each other.

There seems to have such a general sense of accord and love that no one fought, everyone read what they loved, and all got along without incident.  

On the other hand, it seems that Victor's imagination really did require more direction than he received. Although he was "calm and philosophical [...,] [his] temper was not so yielding" and he felt keenly a desire to "discover" the world's secrets. He began to study the work of writers like Cornelius Agrippa (writers whose work focused on the fantastic, not the realistic at all). When he told his father what he'd been reading, rather than instructing him further, his father simply told him, "do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash."  Now, as an adult, Victor says, 

I cannot help remarking here the many opportunities instructors possess of directing the attention of their pupils to useful knowledge, which they utterly neglect [....].  If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me, that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded [....,] It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin.

Victor censures his father for his lack of education, and he actually blames his father for not curbing the impulses that eventually lead to his own catastrophic mistakes, ruin, and death. Thus, even though his childhood appeared ideal in many ways, it becomes obvious that adult Victor sees it as a liability rather than a blessing.

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