Frankenstein Volume 3: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis
by Mary Shelley

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Volume 3: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis

Several weeks pass, and Victor is still unable to gather the courage to begin work on the creature’s mate. He has heard of an English philosopher whose knowledge he believes would prove essential to his task, but he procrastinates on asking his father for permission to visit England. At the same time, Victor feels his health and mood improving, especially when he is able to temporarily forget about his promise to the creature. When his melancholy does return, he rows out alone on Lake Geneva and takes comfort in nature as he has so many times before. One day when he returns from the lake, his father approaches him and says he believes he has guessed the reason for Victor’s unhappiness. Reminding him that he and Caroline always hoped Victor and Elizabeth would marry, Alphonse asks Victor if his misery stems from feeling pressured to marry Elizabeth against his will. Victor assures his father that he loves Elizabeth and that all his future happiness depends on marrying her. Relieved, Alphonse asks if Victor would consider holding the wedding right away, as he believes the marriage would help to dispel the gloom that lies over the family. Victor, however, doesn’t want to marry Elizabeth before he has freed himself from his deal with the creature. In addition, he still needs to travel to England and is horrified by the idea of conducting his grotesque work on the creature’s mate in the family home. Victor tells his father he wants to visit England before he marries but conceals his true motives for the journey. Alphonse gladly agrees, hoping the holiday will cure Victor of the last of his melancholy. He and Elizabeth arrange for Clerval to meet Victor in Strasburgh so that he won’t be alone. Although this interferes with the solitude he craves, Victor is glad he will have Clerval to distract him from his depressing thoughts and to prevent the creature from approaching him. It is agreed that Victor and Elizabeth will marry immediately upon his return, and Victor looks forward to a peaceful future with Elizabeth as the reward he will claim for all his suffering. Although Victor is troubled by a fear that the creature might attack his family while he is away, his intuition tells him the creature will most likely follow him to England.

At the end of August, Victor resignedly sets out for Strasburgh, where Clerval tries in vain to get him to share his delight in the beautiful scenery. As the two friends sail down the Rhine to Rotterdam, though, Victor begins to feel a sense of peace. To Walton, Victor praises Clerval’s devoted friendship, vivid imagination, and ardent love of nature. Although Clerval is dead by the time he tells Walton his story, Victor believes his friend’s spirit still visits and comforts him in his anguish. Returning to his tale, he then relates how he and Clerval continue down the Rhine to Rotterdam before sailing to England and up the River Thames.

In London, Victor reluctantly meets with natural philosophers whose discoveries are relevant to his work and gathers materials for his task. He finds this process tortuous and often seeks solitude even from Clerval, who is enthusiastically engaged in pursuing his plan to become involved in colonization and trade in India. After a few months, the friends receive a letter from a Scotsman who once visited them in Geneva and now invites them to his house in Perth. Victor decides that, once in Scotland, he will find a remote place where he can build the creature’s companion. He and Clerval leave London in March and spend the summer leisurely traveling north, spending time in Oxford, Cumberland and Westmorland, and Edinburgh. Despite the beauty and interest of his surroundings, Victor remains in almost constant misery. He still thinks the creature might attack his family in Switzerland and is haunted by a fear that the creature will murder Clerval out of anger that Victor has not yet begun his work. Though he considers himself essentially guiltless, Victor nevertheless...

(The entire section is 1,666 words.)