Victor's obsession with natural science results in two years passing with no visits home. How would you evaluate his character at this point?  

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martyweis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Victor’s obsessive pursuit of mastery of the natural sciences causes him to withdraw from both the social and physical worlds. Although Victor’s focus is on the passion and the emotions that he felt while unraveling the mysteries of life itself, there is something sickly about this process. He refers repeatedly to his “ardour,” a term that has some irony: although Victor means it positively in the sense of passion, it takes on a feverish quality in Victor’s account.

His sentences are long and twisted with punctuation, and we learn that his “cheek had grown pale with study, and my person had become emaciated with confinement.” As Victor comes closer and closer to mastering life, we see him in a sickly form that is reminiscent of Elizabeth and his mother in chapter three. This behavior anticipates the feverish qualities that are to come when Victor does create the monster. But they also emphasize the self-destructive and unnatural nature of his pursuit of knowledge. Although Victor’s obsessive character explicitly means to do well, we see time and time again that this is not the case. Victor suffers from an excess of passion and ego, unconsciously placing himself and his pursuit of knowledge above those around him.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In his obsession with natural science, Victor Frankenstein becomes absorbed in a dangerous realm.  For, to surpass what is natural is to venture into the desires reminiscent of Satan's in Paradise Lost in which he dreams of the new world to be created which he may make his own.  Also, like the fallen angel in his desires, Victor is not content with the results "promised by the modern professors"; rather, he desires what "the masters of science" have--immortality and power.

This absorption of Victor into his insatiable desire to learn the wonders of science to the exclusion of his loved ones points to the unnaturalness of scienfific pursuit that the Romantics felt, for they were believers in intuition, the beauty and value of human friendships, and in the importance of family and loved ones. Moreover, Victor's obsession with natural science to the exclusion of personal relationships foreshadows the tragic events of Shelley's narrative.

jameadows eNotes educator| Certified Educator

When Victor begins to study chemistry (also referred to as natural science), his character becomes obsessive. He does not go home to Geneva but dedicates himself entirely, body and soul, to his studies. He believes that science, unlike other studies, offers constant enticements and "continual food for discovery and wonder." The more he learns, the more he wants to learn. He dedicates himself so fully to his studies that he makes rapid progress.

From his actions, it's clear that once he sets out to do something, he knows no moderation. He does not think about anything related to family or friends when he is in pursuit of scientific achievement, and there is nothing to temper his pursuit of this achievement. He thinks only of what he has yet to achieve, and he puts aside all the other considerations of life. His obsessive character and perfectionism show up in his studies. 

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Frankenstein

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