As a youth, Victor Frankenstein has studied the works of Agrippa, Magnus, and Paracelsus. This study indicates Victor's interest in the natural sciences and alchemy, an ancient science dealing with the transformation of base metals, such as lead, into gold. The alchemists sought cures for diseases as a way to prolong life. Interestingly, in keeping with the Romantic tradition, alchemists held that practitioners should be highly ethical, pure in spirit, and devoted to worthy causes.
However, after witnessing a most violent thunderstorm when he is fifteen, Victor watches an old oak tree virtually disappear after a most brillant flash of lightning; he is amazed by the power of this energy. When a "man of great research" who is with them observes this, also, he explains to the Frankensteins his theory on the subject of electricity and galvanism, a theory that astonishes Victor to the point that he rejects what he has learned from Agrippa and the others. "By one of those caprices of the mind," he says he took up mathematics and the areas that pertain to this science. However, "Destiny was too potent," and Victor's interest in his experience of lightning and galvanism remain with him.
At the university of Ingolstadt, Victor's statement to M. Krempe, professor of natural philosphy that he has studied the alchemists is met with contempt. Krempe writes the titles of books dealing with natural philosophy and tells Victor of M. Waldman, a fellow-proessor, who lectures upon chemistry. When Victor attends the lecture of M. Waldman, he feels that he has listened to fateful words as he changes his mind about this goals and determines to become "a man of science" with natural philosophy and chemistry as his occupations in life. Thus, Victor has moved from the Romanticist to the pure scientist and it is here that Shelley begins to develop her theme of the natural in conflict with the scientific.
Victor Frankenstein, in Shelley's novel Frankenstein, hopes to accomplish one very important thing before leaving university. When first arriving at university, Victor is belittled by a professor regarding his past studies in alchemy. After, Victor attends a lecture where Waldman peaks Victor's interest in chemistry and the general sciences.
After the death of his mother, Victor becomes obsessed with anatomy, life, and death. He decides that he does not know enough about the creation of life and wishes to pursue the study of it further.
Victor, obsessed with creating life, decides that he must create life himself. This is what Victor hopes to accomplish before leaving university. His obsession with the creation of life forces him to ignore both his studies and his friends and family.