How does Elizabeth affect Victor and Henry in Frankenstein?

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Christopher Jerde eNotes educator | Certified Educator


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Elizabeth is similar to Henry in her compassion and interest in Victor's welfare. Henry shares many of Victor's interests, only he is not arrogant. He and Elizabeth have less of a relationship among each other. The main links between the two are their love for Victor and the way their optimism provides a foil for Victor's brooding nature.

For Victor, Elizabeth is a soothing influence. She is described as sweet and gentle. When Victor is in the midst of a depression, it is Elizabeth who has the most positive impact on his mental state. She is a safe harbor for him, someone he can always rely on when he is hurting.

With Elizabeth, Victor hopes to have a happy marriage with children. However, Victor's ultimate selfishness thwarts that possibility. On his wedding night, he believes the creature seeks to harm him and leaves Elizabeth alone in the bridal chamber, making her easy prey for the creature, whose murderous intentions were aimed at her all along.

When Victor loses Elizabeth, he loses all connection to family and love. It is the final straw, the event which makes him swear to destroy the creature for good.

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McKinstry Rose eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Elizabeth complements Henry's Romanticism.  She sees life in  much of the same optimistic manner that he does.  Both characters put others before themselves and look for the good in life (Elizabeth constantly encourages Victor in his darkest hours, as does Henry who even puts aside his own studies to help Victor get better).

In contrast, Elizabeth and Victor are foil characters.  Victor is selfish and full of hubris.  He seeks to bring glory to himself and fails to take responsibility for his actions and choices.  Elizabeth is the complete opposite.  She stays in the background taking care of her family members, selflessly giving of her time and love (much like Victor's mother Caroline).  Moreover, she seems to take responsibility for events which are not her fault. For example, she blames herself for William's death because she gave him the portrait of Caroline which was taken from him by his murderer.

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