Frankenstein Volume 3: Chapters 5 and 6 Summary and Analysis
by Mary Shelley

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Volume 3: Chapters 5 and 6 Summary and Analysis

After reaching the coast of France, Victor and his father head to Paris, where they stop so that Victor can rest. Alphonse urges his son to mingle with society, but Victor, wracked with guilt over his creation’s crimes, no longer feels worthy of interacting with other human beings. Though he continues to accuse himself of the murders of William, Justine, and Clerval, he refuses to explain these self-recriminations to his father. When Alphonse eventually begs him never to say such things again, Victor passionately replies that he is not mad, that he truly is responsible for the deaths of his loved ones, and that although he would have sacrificed his life to save them, he could not sacrifice the lives of all of humankind. This outburst convinces Alphonse that Victor is indeed suffering from some form of madness. After a while, however, Victor regains his outward calm and forces himself to stop talking about his crimes.

A few days before he and Alphonse leave Paris, Victor receives a letter from Elizabeth, who asks him if his misery stems from feeling honor-bound to marry her while being in love with someone else. Elizabeth acknowledges that, though Alphonse and Caroline always hoped Victor and Elizabeth would marry, Victor might think of her as a sister rather than a romantic partner. She begs him to be honest with her if this is the case, as above all she wants him to be happy. The letter reminds Victor that he expects to be murdered by the creature on his wedding night. As he believes he can find freedom from his guilt only in death, this idea doesn’t particularly upset him, except when he reflects that he will never be able to enjoy a future with Elizabeth. Wanting to make his father and Elizabeth even temporarily happy, and fearful that the creature might commit further murders should he attempt to postpone his marriage, Victor resolves to fulfill his promise to marry Elizabeth immediately upon his return to Switzerland. He writes a letter assuring Elizabeth that he loves her and promising to tell her his terrible secret the day after their wedding.

Victor and Alphonse arrive in Geneva a week later. When Elizabeth greets them she is upset by Victor’s emaciated, feverish appearance, and Victor notices that Elizabeth herself has grown thin and lost her former liveliness. Victor continues to be tormented by his memories, and his moods alternate between rage and a depression so deep he is unable to move or speak. Only Elizabeth can draw him out of these states, after which she urges him to resign himself to reality and make the best of things. Unfortunately, Victor’s secret guilt prevents him from following her advice. A date is fixed for the wedding, and Victor attempts to conceal his growing anxiety beneath a cheerful facade that fools his father but not his fianceé, who looks forward to their marriage with some trepidation of her own. Alphonse arranges for Elizabeth to have part of her inheritance restored in the form of a cottage on Lake Como, where she and Victor will honeymoon after spending a night at an inn in Evian. Meanwhile, Victor remains armed at all times and keeps a constant lookout for the creature, but as the marriage draws nearer, the happiness he hopes to find with Elizabeth beings to overshadow the creature’s threat. On their wedding day, however, Elizabeth seems melancholy. As they sail across the lake to Evian after the wedding, Victor asks his wife to be happy, at least for this one day. Elizabeth promises to try to ignore her sense of foreboding. She turns her and Victor’s attention to the beautiful scenery, but Victor notices that she still seems distracted.

Victor and Elizabeth spend that evening walking along the lakeshore, then enjoying the view from the inn. As soon as night falls and a storm breaks out, Victor feels his fears revive. Elizabeth notices his agitation. Hoping to spare her the sight of the combat he expects to engage in with the creature, Victor asks her to wait for him in a separate...

(The entire section is 1,369 words.)