Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
1. Who is Robert Walton and who is he writing to?
Robert Walton is the narrator, and he is writing to his sister, Margaret.
2. What reasons does Walton offer for making his voyage?
Robert Walton wants an adventure; he is lonely and also wants a friend.
3. At the beginning of letter 2, what does Walton say he is in need of? “…I greatly need a friend…”
4. What attitude does Walton reveal to his sister in letter 3? He is confident that he can find a passage through the Arctic Circle via Russia and boasts that he will be successful and gain fame.
5. What news of Walton’s arouses the stranger’s interest? Walton says he saw a gigantic man in a sled(ge) dragged by dogs in the distance, heading north.
6. What does Walton plan to do regarding the stranger’s stories? Victor Frankenstein is the stranger on a makeshift raft who Walton and his crew rescue from the sea. Walton says he is going to write Victor’s story down. Victor cautions Walton about his zeal to obtain knowledge and make a name for himself.
7. How does the stranger, Victor, describe his parents?
Victor was born in Genoa, Italy. His father, Alphonse Frankentein, was a public official. Alphonse’s good friend, Beaufort, a merchant, fell from prosperity to poverty and went away with his daughter Caroline. Alphonse found his friend Beaufort in his coffin and subsequently married Caroline, many years younger than he.
8. How is Elizabeth presented to Victor and how does he describe her? As the Frankensteins traveled, Caroline would always do charitable work in the villages as she remembered her own hard life. They met a peasant family with many children, one of whom stood out for her fair beauty. (“…thin and very fair. Her hair was the brightest living gold. …blue eyes…a being heaven-sent….”) Caroline found out that the girl, Elizabeth, was an orphan that the peasant family had taken in. Caroline asked if Elizabeth could come and live with them. “…she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift…I…looked upon Elizabeth as mine. …my more than sister….”
9. Who is Henry Clerval, and what are his interests and goals? Henry is Victor’s school friend. He’s interested in “the virtues of heroes, and the actions of man…his hope and his dream was to become one among those whose names are recorded in story, as the gallant and adventurous [knights].” Clerval wishes to go with Victor to Ingolstadt (Germany) to study at university.
10. Whose works does Victor pursue in his reading and studies? Why? Why does his father disapprove? “My father looked carelessly at the titlepage of my book, and said, ‘Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash.’” Victor also reads Paraclesus. and Alberta Magnus. “…I became their disciple.”
Cornelius Agrippa (1486–1535) was a German mystic who practiced a "science" that combined alchemy, magic, mysticism, and astrology.
11. What effect does a violent thunderstorm have on Victor when he is 15 years old? The storm and lightning “ utterly destroyed” an old oak tree. Victor concludes: “Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.”
12. What last requests does Victor’s mother make before she dies? “…my firmest hopes of future happiness were placed on the prospect of your union [marriage]…. Elizabeth… you must supply my place to my younger children.”
13. What realization comes over Victor as soon as he leaves his home? “I…indulged in the most melancholy reflections. …I was now alone. …but as I proceeded, my spirits and hopes rose. I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge.”
14. What discovery does Victor make while at the university, and how does he react to it? Professor M. Krempe tells Victor that the “alchymists” he had been studying were a waste...
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