Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1
From Italy they visited Germany and France. I, their eldest child, was born in Naples, and as an infant accompanied them in their rambles. I remained for several years their only child. Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. 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 in them by Heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot fulfilled their duties towards me. With this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life, added to the active spirit of tenderness that animated both, it may be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self-control, I was so guided by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment to me.
On board Robert Walton’s ship bound for the Arctic, an ill and tortured Victor Frankenstein tells Walton his life story. His father, Alphonse, was a gentleman, whose kindness of heart led him to marry the daughter of his best friend after her father’s death. Saved from poverty, she in her turn develops a compassion and charity to those in similar, desperate situations. Having the financial resources to travel, the couple journeys around Europe, settling for a time in Italy. When their firstborn son, Victor, arrives, they shower him with love. He is the center of their lives, and they hold of highest importance the duty they have in raising a loving and honorable son. Therefore Victor grows up with lessons of patience, charity, and self-control imprinted on his heart. The Frankensteins’ understanding of their roles as parents will be a sharp contrast to the role Victor assumes as a creator toward his creature.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 2
Thus strangely are our souls constructed, and by such slight ligaments are we bound to prosperity or ruin. When I look back, it seems to me as if this almost miraculous change of inclination and will was the immediate suggest of the guardian angel of my life—the last effort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hanging in the stars, and ready to envelope me. Her victory was announced by an unusual tranquility and gladness of soul, which followed the relinquishing of my ancient and latterly tormenting studies. It was thus that I was to be taught to associate evil with their prosecution, happiness with their disregard.
It was a strong effort of the spirit of good; but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.
As a youth, Victor Frankenstein became interested in the study of alchemy and read all he could get his hands on about this proto-science that endeavored to change base metals to gold. Though his father warns him that such writings are “trash,” Victor continues his studies. One day, he observes lightning strike a tree. From that event his attentions turn to more “acceptable” studies, the causes of natural incidents, like lightning. On reflection, Victor believes that this is an opportunity presented him by Providence to turn...
(The entire section is 1494 words.)
Essential Passage 1: Letter 2
But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy; and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil. I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate in my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavor to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathise with me; whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans. How would such a friend repair the faults of your poor brother!
Robert Walton has long had the dream of sailing to uncharted regions at the North Pole. In the age of exploration in the eighteenth century, daring individuals continue to try to find a route, a Northwest Passage, around the northern shores of the North American continent. With an inheritance, Walton has supplied himself with a ship and crew, spending years in the preparations. Now, he is ready to begin his voyage, leaving from the northern port of Archangel in Russia. Yet fulfilling his dream has become less important as he realizes his loneliness and his friendless condition. He confesses to his sister, Margaret, that he is lonely on the voyage, as much as he was throughout his life. He yearns for a kindred spirit, a bosom companion to share his thoughts and dreams. Not only companionship, but accountability is what Walton desires. His hopes are for someone who will guide him away from his faults and toward a life of honor and nobility.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 2
...We possessed a house in Geneva, and a campagne on Belrive, the eastern shore of the lake, at the distance of rather more than a league from the city. We reside principally in the latter, and the lives of my parents were passed in considerable seclusion. It was my temper to avoid a crowd, and to attach myself fervently to a few. I was indifferent, therefore, to my schoolfellows in general; but I united myself in the bonds of the closest friendship to one among them. Henry Clerval was the son of a merchant of Geneva.
Victor grows up in a close and loving family. Being the eldest son, he enjoys his parents undivided attention until he is seven years of age, when his brother Ernest is born. Living in the Swiss city of Geneva, the family also has a country home where they spent most of the time. The family, along with Victor, lives in relative seclusion from their neighbors. The home in Belrive is open only to those who reside there, and the chosen few who are invited to become a part of the Frankenstein circle. There Victor gains a single friend, Henry Clerval. He avoids most of the boys his own age, choosing a solitary existence, except for Henry. Though many friendships are available to him, he rejects them all in favor of just one. Henry Clerval will then be his chief, and indeed only, friend outside his immediate family, and will play a...
(The entire section is 1419 words.)