Volume 1: Chapters 6 and 7 Summary and Analysis
Victor reads a letter from Elizabeth in which she writes of how she has longed to hear from him and wished she could visit him during his illness. Apart from the family’s worries about Victor, life at home remains happy and peaceful. Alphonse is in good health, while Victor’s brother Ernest is now sixteen and hopes to pursue a career in the military. Elizabeth also writes at length about the family’s servant, a girl named Justine Moritz. The Frankensteins hired Justine when she was twelve years old, after the death of her father left her at the mercy of a mother who inexplicably hated her. Elizabeth reminds Victor that Justine was always a favorite of his, as well as of his mother, who Justine adored and emulated. Justine was heartbroken after Caroline’s death, and in the ensuing months, all of the serving girl’s siblings died as well. Madame Moritz believed this to be a punishment from God for the way she had treated Justine, whom she now summoned home. Justine, who Elizabeth says became less vivacious after Caroline’s death, reluctantly went to stay at her mother’s house, where she found herself alternately apologized to and blamed for her siblings’ deaths. When Madame Moritz eventually died, Justine returned to the Frankenstein home. Elizabeth praises Justine, who she says reminds her of Caroline. She also writes very fondly of Victor’s youngest brother, William; thanks Clerval for caring for Victor; and asks Victor to write to the family soon. Victor writes back right away to assure them he is recovering.
Once he is well enough to leave his apartment, Victor takes Clerval around Ingolstadt to meet various professors. This proves difficult for Victor, as he began to hate natural philosophy the night he fled from the creature and now finds even the sight of scientific instruments upsetting. He listens in misery as M. Waldman and M. Krempe talk about science and tell Clerval what a wonderful student Victor is. Victor’s professors notice how unhappy he looks during these conversations but assume he is simply too modest to enjoy their praise. Though Clerval notices Victor’s discomfort, Victor cannot bring himself to tell his friend about the creature he brought to life. Instead he spends the summer joining Clerval in learning Arabic, Persian, and Sanskrit, a course of study Clerval hopes will help him in his future career. Victor finds this project a soothing distraction. He plans to return to Geneva at the end of autumn, but bad weather forces him to delay his departure until spring. Victor and Clerval spend the month of May on a walking tour of the surrounding countryside, and Victor finds his spirits lifted by the beauty of the scenery and the company of his friend. By the time they return to town, he is the happiest he has been in years.
Victor’s newfound happiness is crushed when, on returning to his apartment, he reads a letter from his father informing him that his youngest brother, William, has been murdered. The week before, the family had gone for a walk in Plainpalais and lost William when he ran off to hide while playing with Ernest. After searching for William all night, Alphonse found him lying dead on the grass with marks on his neck suggesting he had been strangled. Elizabeth had let William wear a valuable necklace with a miniature of Caroline on it that evening, and this necklace is now gone. Since it seems the murderer killed William in order to steal the necklace, Elizabeth blames herself for William’s death. Alphonse asks Victor to come home and comfort the family—particularly Elizabeth— in their grief.
Victor leaves for Geneva immediately. At first he is impatient to see his family for the first time in six years, but soon he begins to feel a sense of dread. Though his well-being is somewhat restored by the beauty of the landscape, it suffers again when he draws near his destination and has a premonition that he is destined for misery. When he arrives in Geneva, the city’s gates have already...
(The entire section is 2,054 words.)