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Chapter 5

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 5 of Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein.

Frankenstein | Chapter 5 (Volume 1, Chapter 5) | Summary

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Summary

As the flashback continues, Victor relates that Henry gave him Elizabeth's letter, which was filled with family news and events, including information about Justine Moritz, who had moved into the Frankenstein house when she was 12 because her mother rejected her. Justine, whose behavior and appearance Elizabeth saw as similar to Caroline Frankenstein's, was working as a servant in the household, and Elizabeth reminded Victor that he always enjoyed Justine's company. Elizabeth related that, while Victor was at school, Justine's mother forced her to return home to take care of her and treated the girl poorly. When Justine's mother died, Justine returned to the Frankenstein home and resumed her duties. Elizabeth also described their youngest brother, William, a charming child. The letter cheered Victor greatly, and he wrote back.

Recovered from his breakdown, Victor introduced Henry to his professors, who all praise him lavishly. However, Victor found hat he had developed a violent hatred of chemistry—he cannot even look at his laboratory instruments—so he joined Henry in his study of languages and "the works of the orientalists." Victor remained in Ingolstadt that summer and then, because of poor weather, stayed until the following May. At that time, Victor and Henry took a two-week vacation, a walking tour of Ingolstadt, and delighted in the beauty of nature and the comfort it offers.

Analysis

Justine serves as another foil to the Monster. Like the Monster, she is rejected by her parent (a mother, in this case). However, unlike the Monster, she finds a family in the Frankenstein home, where she works as a servant but is treated well. In a similar way, Henry is a foil to Victor, as Henry's cheerful, open nature stands in contrast to Victor's more brooding, closed self-absorption. Further, Henry is hearty and well, while Victor is often frail and ill, haunted by his creation.

This chapter also brings in elements of romanticism and the theme of connection to nature. Victor says, "A serene sky and verdant fields filled me with ecstasy. The present season was indeed divine; the flowers of spring bloomed in the hedges while those of summer were already in bud." The walk in natural beauty revives Victor; as the passage reveals, nature has restorative powers, which is a common idea in the romantic movement. His joy in nature is a contrast to the horror and anguish he feels over the Monster.

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Questions for Chapter 5

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