Volume One Chapter Summaries - Frankenstein

Chapter Summaries for Chapters 1-8 (Volume 1)

Source: "York Notes for AS and A2: Frankenstein"

  • Created by: cg97
  • Created on: 02-12-13 14:49

V1 Letter 1

  • Robert Walton writes to Margaret Saville, his sister in England, to tell her of his safe arrival in St Petersburgh (capital of Russia)
  • He expresses elation at the prospect of his expedition to the North Pole, and hopes to discover a tropical paradise there
  • Walton recounts the main events in his life so far, including his failure to succeed as a poet, and his subsequent preparation for the "hardship(s)" of an expedition to the pole
  • He says that he is leaving for Archangel within a few weeks where he will hire a ship and engage a crew
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V1 Letter 2

  • The second letter from Walton to his sister is written three months later
  • Walton is now in Archangel and has hired a ship and begun to collect his crew
  • The weather is still too severe for him to sail
  • Walton expresses his deep need for a sympathetic friend
  • He applauds the courage of his lieutenant who, like Walton, is ambitious
  • He begins to quote Coleridge’s poem, “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”


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V1 Letter 3

  • Dated 7th July – consists of only a few lines
  • Has little report aside from that he has left Archangel and is now well advanced on his voyage
  • He and his men are in good spirits and not dismayed by the floating sheets of ice that indicate the dangers ahead of them
  • Walton expresses great confidence in his quest
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V1 Letter 4

  • Walton’s ship is surrounded by fog and is trapped in the ice
  • He and his crew see a very large being in a sledge being pulled by dogs
  • The following morning, they encounter another man in a sledge – we later find out that this is Victor Frankenstein
  • Victor says that he will tell Walton his tale to dissuade Walton from continuing on his voyage any further
  • Walton decides to record the story so that he can send the manuscript to Margaret
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V1 Chapter 1

  • Victor begins his story – he tells it in a chronological order so begins by talking about how his parents met and then came to marry
  • He was born in Naples and enjoys and affectionate relationship with his parents
  • The Frankenstein family adopt the beautiful orphan Elizabeth Lavenza
  • Elizabeth becomes Victor’s adored companion
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V1 Chapter 2

  • Victor continues the account of his upbringing – his brother Ernest is born and his close friend, Henry Clerval , is introduced
  • Victor discovers a book writtem by Cornelius Agrippa, a German alchemist associated with the occult. His father dismisses this as trash and tells him not to read it.
  • Victor disobeys him and is fired with enthusiasm to find the elixir of life
  • During a thunderstorm, Victor witnesses the power of nature. He learns of a new theory concerning electricity
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V1 Chapter 3

  • Caroline contracts scarlet fever when she tends to Elizabeth against the wishes of her husband
  • Caroline sadly dies and proclaims her dying wish to be for Victor and Elizabeth to marry
  • Victor goes away to the university of Ingolstadt and meets the professor of natural philosophy , Professor Krempe
  • He also attends a lecture by Waldman which inspires him to return to his quest to discover the mysteries of creation
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V1 Chapter 4

  • Victor devotes himself to his studies and does not visit his family for two years
  • He begins to create the frame of a man out of pieces of corpses and hopes at some point to be able to bring the dead to life
  • Victor’s obsession makes him isolated from the outside world which causes him to fall physically and mentally unwell
  • His father (Alphonse Frankenstein) writes to express his concern at the lack of communication à Victor interrupts telling his story twice to tell Walton his error was to reject domestic life
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V1 Chapter 5

  • Victor brings the creature to life
  • He is immediately filled with horror and disgust at the creature which appears ugly and unnatural and retreats from the room
  • When Victor sleeps, his slumber is riddled with nightmares – he dreams that he kisses Elizabeth who then turns into the corpse of his dead mother
  • When he awakes in the night, he see the creature stretching out a hand to him in the moonlight and, once again, flees
  • The following day, Victor encounters his friend – Henry Clerval – who has also come to the university to study
  • Clerval sees that Frankenstein is ill and nurses him through his fever
  • Victor receives a letter from Elizabeth who is back in Geneva
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V1 Chapter 6

  • Victor receives another letter from Elizabeth
  • The letter talks about how Justine Moritz came to be a servant in the Frankenstein household
  • Victor describes his convalescence and cannot bear to even think of his scientific studies
  • Victor and Henry go on a walking tour of the countryside around Ingolstadt and Victor begins to regain a sense of happiness and peace
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V1 Chapter 7

  • Victor receives a letter from his father detailing how Victor’s younger brother, William Frankenstein, has been murdered
  • Victor begins the journey home and visits the place where William had been killed
  • He catches a glimpse of the creature and is convinced that it is responsible for the crime
  • Victor returns home to discover that Justine had been accused of the crime
  • He his reunited with Elizabeth who expresses hope he will prove Justine’s innocence
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V1 Chapter 8

  • Victor reports on the trial of Justine - the evidence against her appears strong: the picture of Caroline stolen from William had been found in Justine’s pocket
  • Elizabeth speaks in her defence at the trial
  • The court is moved by her speech but only to admire her loyalty
  • Justine now appears more ungrateful
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