What places does Victor Frankenstein travel to throughout the book? I know Victor goes to Geneva (obviously), Ingolstadt (where is that exactly?), the Alps (French or Swiss?), London, Scotland,...

What places does Victor Frankenstein travel to throughout the book?

I know Victor goes to Geneva (obviously), Ingolstadt (where is that exactly?), the Alps (French or Swiss?), London, Scotland, and the North Pole, but I'm not sure where Victor goes at other times.

Expert Answers
karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Throughout the course of his education and his eventual mission to destroy his creature, Victor Frankenstein travels around Europe and to the Arctic.

Victor was born in Geneva, where he grows up happily with his family. When he is seventeen, Victor goes to the university in a Bavarian town called Ingolstadt. There he pursues his interests in alchemy and the line between life and death. Throughout his adult life, Victor spends time in a variety of European settings including England, Scotland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. At the end of his narrative, and at the start of the novel when Walton finds him, Victor is in the Arctic/the North Pole chasing his creature. There is a fair amount of travel in the novel, in part because of the plot; as Victor tries to evade or find the creature, he must move from place to place.

The setting is important to Victor's character and to literature of the romantic period. There are many examples in the novel where Victor spends time in nature, particularly in the Alps, and expresses sentiments of "the sublime." This is a common feature in romanticism and in a related school of writing: the Gothic. The sublime involves feelings of awe and appreciation; the viewer is both attracted by the view of, say, the mountains but also can feel somewhat fearful or small in the presence of that natural wonder. Victor seems to feel cheered at first by spending time in the natural world. This may be a result of the unnatural creation process that he has undertaken; nature serves as a welcome antidote. 

The North Pole setting is an interesting choice on Shelley's part. Walton is there on a discovery mission, testing in a different way than Victor did the bounds of science and exploration. Victor is there to try to hunt down his creature and kill him, and he is in terrible physical condition, basically on his deathbed. The North Pole represents for him a last resort, while for Walton it symbolizes an open frontier. The extreme cold of the stark setting may also contribute to the bleak tone of the novel.

mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One interesting element to all the places where Victor Frankenstein travels is the frigidity of these places and the whiteness of the settings with the ice and the snow-covered mountains.  Thus, the gothic element for Shelley, unlike the typical dark castles and primieval forests is somewhat like that of the evil in Herman Melville's Moby Dick in which whiteness, the lack of color, indicates a spiritual absence and a preternatural, foreboding presence.

Here are some settings:

  1. The Swiss Alps (He mentions looking at Mont Blanc in the distance; Mt. Blanc is in France)
  2. Ingolstadt, Bavaria (Germany) on the Danube River
  3. London
  4. Scotland
  5. near the North Pole
  6. Strasburgh, France (where Victor waits for Clerval in Chapter 18)
  7. Rotterdam. Netherlands [the largest European port]
  8. Manheim, Germany (Victor and Clerval travel down the Rhine)
  9. Oxford, England
  10. Orkney, Islands off the coast of Scotland
  11. Evian, France

Victor returns with Elizabeth to Geneva, Switzerland, and they stop one night in Evian and then from their boats they see Mont Saleve and Montalegre, and, at a distance Mount Blanc.  After the wedding, they plan to stay at Villa Lavenza on the shores of Lake Como, Italy, so they stay near the Alps.

arqueille eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm more familiar with the first edition than the third, and it always struck me as odd that Mary Shelley thought that the North Pole was a place that one could sail to in a wooden ship. Apparently, at the time, it was believed that arctic ice was a ring with a big liquid sea at its center.

And I was mildly disappointed that Frankenstein's ancestral home and laboratory were not located in Transylvania, but in Geneva and Ingolstadt (Germany, central Bavaria on the banks of the Danube River). Geneva was undoubtedly chosen as that was the location of Lord Byron's villa, where the first draft of Frankenstein was written as part of a challenge between Byron, Mary and Percy Shelley, and Dr. John Polidori. Some weeks earlier, Mary and Percy had visited the real-life Frankenstein Castle in Odenwald, Germany. Dragons and alchemy are part of the castle's legends.

gsenviro | Student

In Mary Shelly's Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein visits a number of places throughout the story. Here are some of them:

  1. Naples: Victor was born in Naples.
  2. Geneva, Switzerland: Home of the Frankenstein family, Victor grew up there and returned there after college.
  3. Ingolstadt, Germany: Victor went to college there (University of Ingolstadt) and created the monster in the lab there.
  4. Mont Blanc
  5. Orkney Islands, Scotland: This is where Victor tries to create a companion for the Monster.
  6. North Pole: This is where Victor is found chasing after the monster by Robert Walton and where he dies in the end. The monster is also seen moving further north to kill himself.
  7. Chamounix: This is where the monster approaches Victor to ask him to create a companion for him.
  8. Other places: Russia, Holland, Paris, London, Ireland.
Read the study guide:
Frankenstein

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