As shown in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, what is Victor's background?

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literaturenerd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein begins with four letters written by Robert Walton to his sister Margaret Saville. It is not until letter four that readers first come in contact with Victor Frankenstein. Even then, little information is given about him or his past. In chapter one, when Victor's life story takes over, readers come to find out everything about his family's history.

Victor's family is Genevese and very well known. His father, Alphonse, was far too involved in "affairs of his country" to settle down and begin a family prior to marrying his mother, Caroline. His mother was the daughter of a friend of Alphonse's who passed away. Alphonse took Caroline into his own home, in order to care for her, and ending up marrying her two years after the death of her father.

Victor was the only child of his parents for a long time. At the age of five, Victor is "presented" with a sister, Elizabeth. It is Victor's parents' hope that he and Elizabeth will marry. Victor also has two brothers (Ernest and William). Another part of the Frankenstein family is Justine. She is a servant who is treated more like a sister and daughter in the household.

For the most part elf-taught, Victor's interest in science really began while the Frankenstein family was living in Belrive. It was here that Victor witnessed a tree being totally destroyed by a lightening strike. Suddenly interested in the "utter" destruction of the tree, Victor began reading Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus. After surpassing his professors at Inglostadt, Victor took the furthering of his education into his own hands when he began his experimentations with the reanimation of life.

robfoley | Student

If you are asking about his background as it relates to his family, Victor is the eldest child of Alphonse and Caroline Frankenstein. He was born and raised in Geneva Switzerland, and is from a wealthy and powerful family. He has two younger brothers and an adopted sister.

His background -as it relates to his education- is mostly self-taught in alchemy as a youth. He became more interested in modern science when he observed a tree being struck by lightning. He later studied chemistry at university, and used this knowledge to make the "Creature."

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