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Frankenstein | Chapter 18 (Volume 3, Chapter 2) | Summary

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Summary

Victor and Henry lived in London during the winter. Their touring and stay in London failed to rouse Victor from his depression, although Henry enjoyed himself. In Henry, Victor sees himself before he created the Monster, as Henry was still eager to learn and experience new things. Victor had by then lost his joy and interest in new adventures and new learning—he was tormented by the results of his earlier unbridled pursuit of knowledge. At the end of March, Victor and Henry traveled through the English countryside to Edinburgh, Scotland, responding to a friend's invitation. When they reached Perth, Victor—conscious of his "horrible curse"—suggested that he and Henry part.

On his own, Victor set up a laboratory on a remote island in the Orkneys. The island was so isolated that it had only three huts; Victor took the one that was empty. He set to work making the female monster, but every day, that work seemed to him more and more terrible. Sometimes he could not even enter the laboratory for days. Nevertheless, he made progress, despite being plagued by disgust over the work. Henry, living elsewhere, had no idea what Victor was doing.

Analysis

Many themes come together in this chapter. The theme of scientific idealism is evident and made complicated through Victor's reluctant work on the female monster. Here, unlike the case with the burst of energy and passion that Victor first experienced, the theme is combined with the theme of disillusionment. Aware of the "horror" of his actions, Victor cannot feel excitement or joy in his work. The theme of curiosity is also reinforced in this chapter, where Henry's continued thirst for knowledge is contrasted by Victor's remorse over the results of his unbridled curiosity. Finally, Victor's decision to be alone and to work in an extremely secluded location shows the theme of human companionship. Henry and the Monster crave companionship (as does Walton), while Victor wants only to be alone.

In addition, qualities of the gothic novel are shown in Victor's work building the female monster, from the eerie, isolated location to the dark mood attached to those scenes. Of course, as with the male monster, Shelley does not describe the nuts-and-bolts construction of the female monster, leaving these details to the reader's imagination.

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