What do Victor's parents give him as a gift in Mary Shelly's Frankenstein?

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Tim Mbiti eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Victor’s parents give him a sibling, Elizabeth, as a gift. Victor had been his parent’s only child but his mother longed for a daughter. However, when Victor was approximately five years old, his mother and father adopted a lovely girl whose poverty afflicted family they came across during one of their expeditions abroad. Victor’s mother was always sympathetic of the deplorable conditions the poor people lived in because she lived in similar conditions prior to meeting Victor’s father. She therefore made sure to contribute in any way possible in alleviating the suffering of the poor.

After Elizabeth was taken in, Victor felt a strong sense of ownership for her. He loved her and wanted to protect her. Later on in the book, Victor marries Elizabeth but she meets her tragic demise on their wedding night when the creature Victor made strangles her.

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The gift presented to young Victor Frankenstein by his parents, particularly his mother, was his cousin, Elizabeth Lavenza, the infant girl placed into the Frankenstein home when her mother died and her father decided to remarry.  Victor's mother exclaimed, "I have a pretty present for my Victor -- tomorrow he shall have it."  Victor describes the relationship in Chapter 1:

"I have often heard my mother say, that she (Elizabeth) was at that time the most beautiful child she had ever seen, and shewed (sic) signs even then of a gentle and affectionate disposition.  These indications, and a desire to bind as closely as possible the ties of domestic love, determined my mother to consider Elizabeth as my future wife..."

Lest there be any doubt regarding the mother's intentions for Elizabeth and Victor, on her death bed she told the two, "My children...my firmest hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of your union..."

Throughout the story, Victor repeatedly references Elizabeth's fine qualities, and the certainty of that union.  Elizabeth is an angelic presence in a very foreboding environment.  Their eventual union provides one of the story's greatest tragedies.

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gsenviro | Student

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is a story of science gone wrong, where a young scientist Victor Frankenstein creates an anthropomorphic creature who, after getting no affection from anyone and Victor's refusal to create a mate for him, torments Victor by killing his family and friends, most notably his love, Elizabeth.

Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor's step-sister and later his bride, who is murdered on her wedding night, is the "gift" to Victor from his parents. Caroline Frankenstein, Victor's mother, tells him "I have a pretty present for my Victor—tomorrow he shall have it" (p. 35), and brings home Elizabeth Lavenza as an adopted daughter. It is Caroline's wish that Victor and Elizabeth be united, which is fulfilled (however very briefly since the monster murders Elizabeth soon after the wedding).

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