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Frankenstein | Chapter 6 (Volume 1, Chapter 6) | Summary

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Summary

Victor's relation continues. His happy mood abruptly ended back in Ingolstadt on receiving a letter from his father, informing him of the tragic news that his brother William had been strangled. The police cannot find the locket that Elizabeth had given William. That locket contained a miniature portrait of their mother, Caroline Frankenstein. Victor's father implored him to come home at once. Victor left Ingolstadt, but, "dreading a thousand nameless evils," he lingered in Lausanne for two days, where he was brought to tears by seeing the beauty of Mont Blanc. Arriving in Geneva, he found the city gates closed, forcing him to wait outside the city overnight. He "resolved to visit the spot where" William died. On his journey, Victor realized that he had not been home for almost six years. Watching a "beautiful yet terrific storm," Victor saw "in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a clump of trees." A flash of lightning revealed the figure to be the Monster, whom Victor had not seen since bringing him to life two years before. Victor suspects the Monster has murdered William.

Victor went home the next morning. He cried with his brother Ernest, who explained that since the missing locket was found in Justine's possession, she was assumed to be the murderer and was being tried that day. Victor assured Ernest, their father, and Elizabeth (upon whose beauty and womanhood Victor comments) that Justine was innocent, but he cannot explain his reasons for asserting this because doing so would reveal his creation of the Monster.

Analysis

Two years have passed since Victor created the monster and saw him, lulling him into a false sense of security that the monster has fled for good and Victor's secret is safe. William's murder, however, smashes that security and propels the plot forward. It can be no coincidence that Victor's brother is the victim; it is clearly the work of the Monster, getting revenge for being rejected by his maker. The fact that Victor sees the Monster at the murder scene, near the Frankensteins' home, reinforces this point.

The lightning that reveals that the figure is definitely the Monster recalls Victor's interest in electricity and its apparent connection to bringing the creature to life. It also adds to the eerie gothic mood. The lightning evokes light, a symbol of learning and knowledge. Lightning comes during powerful storms, and that association foreshadows an ominous future for Victor due to the Monster's presence. Of course, the storm also parallels Victor's grief: he weeps over the death of William with Ernest, and the sky weeps as well. Victor calls the storm William's "funeral dirge."

Victor's reflections about the Monster further distance him from his creation. "Nothing in human shape," he thinks, "could have destroyed that fair child," his brother. Only a monster or fiend, something capable of evil, could do so.

Victor's pause in Lausanne reinforces him as a romantic, seeking solace in nature. On this occasion, though, it does not work. While the two days there calm him, the sight of Mont Blanc and its nearby lake, rather than bringing comfort, makes him feel worse. He wonders if they are meant to "prognosticate peace, or to mock at [his] unhappiness."

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