What plot exposition does Shelley offer the reader in chapters one and two of Frankenstein?

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literaturenerd's profile pic

literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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The first two chapters of Frankenstein, excluding Walton's four letters which open the novel, offer readers the things typically found in an exposition. The novel's beginning introduces Victor Frankenstein, his family, and how his interest in science began. The opening of the chapters offers readers with insight into the loving family with which Victor was raised.

The following details specifics of the exposition of the novel.

1. Victor, unnamed at the beginning of the chapter, is Genevese. His father, prior to marrying his mother, Caroline, worked very hard. His lifestyle and career had no room for a wife.

2. After his father married, the life of the Frankenstein's changed dramatically. Victor's family settled down and began to grow (with both natural children and adopted children).

3. Victor and Elizabeth, his "cousin," are meant to marry and the family nurtures their relationship.

4. Victor becomes interested in science--stemming from a great storm he witnesses.

5. Victor leaves for university (Ingolstadt) and his interest in science and mathematics blooms.

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loziefayt's profile pic

loziefayt | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

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Mary Shelley provides plot exposition by expounding on Frankenstein's character as a brilliant scientist surrounded by love. The reason for this presented information is to parallel the eventual creation of "the monster" who was like any other living being, but neglected and therefore lacking the luxuries Frankenstein possessed: namely, love.  Further plot exposition occurs as Shelley poses inspiration for Frankenstein's greatest creation and greatest mistake through the "dazzling light" that is lightning, and also as Shelley ends chapter two with a  strong message of foreshadowing. She says "Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction" (43). 

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