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Literature Study GuidesFrankensteinVolume 1 Chapter 2 Summary

Frankenstein | Study Guide

Mary Shelley

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Volume 1: Chapter 2

Professor Regina Buccola of Roosevelt University provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Volume 1: Chapter 2 of Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein (1818).

Frankenstein | Volume 1, Chapter 2 | Summary



When Victor was 17 years old, his parents decided that he should attend the University of Ingolstadt in Germany. Before he could enroll, however, Elizabeth became ill with scarlet fever. While taking care of Elizabeth, Caroline contracted the disease and died. On her deathbed, Caroline asked Elizabeth to promise to care for the younger children. She also made Victor and Elizabeth promise to marry.

After recovering from his mother's death, Victor headed off to college. There, he says, he will be alone to "form my own friends, and be my own protector." Victor describes two of his professors, M. Krempe and M. Waldman. Krempe, who teaches natural philosophy, had a "repulsive countenance" and was critical of the time Victor wasted studying the alchemists. Waldman, in contrast, was kindly and supportive. With Waldman as his mentor, Victor decided to study chemistry.


Victor's comment that at university he was "alone" continues the theme of human companionship. While he admits to the need to make friends, Victor is perfectly content to be alone; he believes he is "totally unfitted for the company of strangers." The same contentment with loneliness is not true of several of the other characters in the novel, especially the Monster and Walton, Victor's foil. In this duality, Victor and the Monster can be seen as doubles, two halves of the same person, in this regard as they were as creator and created: the introvert and the extrovert, the one desiring to be left alone and the other craving companionship, although the Monster, like Victor, is unfitted for company. His tragedy is the clash between his desire for human companionship and his rejection by humans.

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