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Frankenstein | Chapter 21 (Volume 3, Chapter 5) | Summary

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Summary

Victor relates to Walton that he and his father then went to France. During this trip, Victor told his father he was responsible for the deaths of William, Justine, and Henry; his father viewed Victor as mad. In Paris, Victor received a letter from Elizabeth, asking if he had fallen in love with another woman, explaining that she loves him and would understand. Victor recalled the Monster's ominous warning and wrote back to Elizabeth to saying he is dedicated to her but has "one secret ... a terrible one."

Returning home to Geneva, Victor passed in and out of madness; Elizabeth helped him. He assured his father that he loved only Elizabeth and was ready for marriage. Victor again remembered the Monster's warning, but as he tells Walton, "I thought that I prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim." Victor and Elizabeth married. He armed himself, and they left on their overnight honeymoon, planning afterward to go to Cologny. While sailing past the "beauty of the scene," landscape including Mont Blanc, Victor had his "last moments ... of happiness" and Elizabeth told him to "be happy." At sunset, they reach Evian.

Analysis

The novel builds to its climax as Victor fears the Monster will kill him on his wedding night. The climax is foreshadowed and suspense is built by Victor's statement to Elizabeth that he has only "one secret," "a dreadful one," which will "chill your frame with horror" when it is revealed. He promises to tell her the day after they wed but does not intend to fulfill the promise, since he believes the Monster will kill him first. While Victor carries a gun, such weapons are not likely to prove effective against the Monster, who is possessed of speed, strength, and endurance beyond those of an ordinary human.

Victor's delay in revealing his secret to Elizabeth continues behavior he has shown throughout the novel. He is full of self-loathing over his secret, which is as ugly to him as the Monster is in appearance. He has a genuine wish to not mar Elizabeth's happiness before the wedding, but his inability to be truthful also deprives her of any freedom of choice in relation to him. She is in darkness as to his character and actions, acting only on partial information. She does not press him for details, however, showing a lack of the curiosity that impelled him to ruin. Of course, Elizabeth, the passive female, is also complicit in her powerlessness. Her letter to Victor confesses that she places his happiness above her own. As much as she loves him (more than he loves her, some readers may suspect), she will give him up if he loves someone else. Elizabeth gives Victor all the power and authority in their relationship.

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