Study Guide

Frankenstein Chapter 4

By Mary Shelley

Chapter 4

  • Victor becomes—and we say this lovingly—a huge nerd. He doesn't make friends, and he doesn't write home, not even to his hot sister/future wife, Elizabeth. He probably doesn't even have a Facebook page.
  • On the plus side, Victor's studies advance rapidly, which tends to happen when you're in self-prescribed social exile. Soon, he has mastered everything there possibly is to know in the world.
  • In all fairness, there was a lot less to know at the beginning of the nineteenth century, like all the lyrics from toy commercials of the '80s and what that one actor who played that kid's brother on Saved By the Bell is doing now.
  • He becomes obsessed with the way some things are alive and others…aren't really. He wants to figure out how to make non-living things into living ones.
  • From a psychological perspective, this probably has something to do with the fact that Victor's mother just died. This is not a healthy alternative to counseling, but apparently the University of Ingolstadt didn't have much in the way of Student Services.
  • Victor studies anatomy to learn about how bodies live and die.
  • He decides he wants to make a new race of creatures, and in his spare time he starts assembling pieces of corpses. No one mentions this, but it probably smells really bad at his place.
  • Quick Brain Snack: Anatomy was more of a theoretical science than an actual science for hundreds of years, because Christians believed that you were literally going to be resurrected when Jesus returned—which meant that you wanted to have all your body parts in one piece. There was none of this "donate your body to science" business. Artists and scientists who wanted to see what was actually going on underneath the skin resorted to grave robbing.
  • So, where is Victor Frankenstein getting these bodies? He's sneaking off in the middle of the night with a shovel and digging them up—or paying someone to do it for him.
  • Yeah, the guy's just a little obsessed.

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