Study Guide

Frankenstein Chapter 1

By Mary Shelley

Chapter 1

  • The new guy's name is Victor Frankenstein. He's just about on his deathbed from starvation, exhaustion, and illness.
  • Even though he's half-dead, he still likes to talk, a lot. Instead of just saying, "Hey, my name is Victor. I created a monster, and now I'm trying to kill him because he killed everyone I know," he has to start with the beginning of his childhood:
  • "To begin my life with the beginning of my life, I record that I was born" style. Get ready.
  • He's got parents. They are named Alphonse and Caroline.
  • Then there is Elizabeth. Elizabeth Lavenza. Mary Shelley couldn't really make up her mind about how she became part of Victor's family, but we're guessing you're probably reading the 1831 edition of this novel, so we'll say she was adopted from some Italian family by Caroline when Victor was all of five years old.
  • Victor's parents thought it would be a good idea to adopt a girl to be Victor's future wife.
  • So Elizabeth comes back to Geneva to live with Victor's family.
  • Victor accepts this fate. In general, if something is fate, Victor is ready to give in to it. And, as you are about to see, he seems to think an awful lot of things are fate.
  • (This is a major difference between the 1818 edition and the 1831 edition; 1818 Victor takes a little more responsibility for his actions.)

Read the complete Frankenstein summary here.

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