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A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy
Inside A Chair, A Fireplace & a Tea Cozy

Frankenstein

Frankenstein chapter by chapter reading, continued. Confused? Read my introduction post; chapters I to III; chapters IV to VII; chapters I to IV; chapters V to IX; chapters I to IV.

Chapter V

Victor and his father are heading home, and Victor confesses his guilt for the deaths of William, Justine, and Henry. His father says, “what are you talking about?” (actually, he says, “are you mad?”) and then changes the subject.

Sweet! A letter from Elizabeth! Like her father/uncle/father-in-law-to-be, Elizabeth thinks all of Victor’s problems are about her, namely, that he loves another.

Back in Geneva, Victor is emotionally all over the place. “The tranquility which I now enjoyed did not endure. Memory brought madness with it.” He wants to marry Elizabeth but is convinced it’s suicide; that once he marries her, the creature will kill him. Elizabeth continues to be a saint in dealing with Victor and his moods: “Elizabeth alone had the power to draw me from these fits.”

But, spoiler: “When I thought that I prepared only my death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim.” That’s twice now that Shelley has told the reader about an upcoming death before it happens.

Victor tells Elizabeth he’ll tell her his big secret on their wedding night; I’m sure Elizabeth thinks its something like another girlfriend.

The two marry and head off for the honeymoon. Music of doom follows.

Chapter VI

…And the creature has killed Elizabeth. Only Victor didn’t see that coming.

Anyone want to guess Victor’s reaction to finding Elizabeth’s dead body? Anyone? Anyone? Bueller?

Yes, he faints. That’s our boy, the first to faint or run away or fall ill in any crisis. (If, as some speculate, Victor was modeled on Percy Shelley, that’s not an attractive quality and I can imagine it getting old really fast.)

I continue to be impressed by the creature, because not only does he get around unseen he also manages to eavesdrop and get a lot of information, such as where the honeymoon would be so he could kill Elizabeth. I’m imagining a fanfiction, Black Adder style, of how basically in reality the whole world knew about the monster, a rather open secret, because, hello, he’s eight foot tall and ugly, of course he’s going to be noticed!

The shock of losing Elizabeth kills Dad.

Guess what Victor does now?

He gets another fever. Victor, ever one to rely on in a crisis: “I lost sensation; chains and darkness were the only objects that pressed upon me.” Apparently, Victor is even committed for a time.

As for Ernest, who the hell knows about poor Ernest because the guy is never mentioned again. Victor never gives him a second thought. Farmer, lawyer, sole heir; orphan; dead brother, dead sister, mad brother; poor Ernest.

Victor confesses all to the magistrate (day late, dollar short, but at least he does it) and the magistrate believes him. Believes him so much that his reaction is pretty much, hey, sorry, we cannot do anything about your creature because he’s got mad powers. Victor’s reaction to that leads the magistrate to think it’s all made up after all.

Chapter VII

Victor takes some cash, his mother’s jewels, and leaves town.

What about Ernest? Insert your own fanfiction here, because I have no clue.

Victor tries to be the hunter. And before he does so, he swears on his family’s graves and this is AWESOME.

By the sacred earth on which I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by the deep and eternal grief that I feel, I swear: and by thee, O night, and by the spirits that preside over thee, I swear to pursue the demon, who caused this misery, until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict.” And it keeps going!

Of course, the creature is lurking nearby, because that is what stalkers do, and he laughs.

The chase begins! And just as I’m thinking that the creature is letting himself be seen by Victor, leaving clues for Victor to follow, Victor comes to the same conclusion. It doesn’t stop him, as the two head north; north to the snow and ice, because cold doesn’t affect the creature. Eventually, Victor finds himself on a piece of ice and sees a vessel, and we’re back to the beginning!

Did you forget this all began with Walton writing letters to his sister?

Victor asks Walton to swear that, if Victor dies, Walton will continue the quest to “satisfy my vengeance in his death.” No, not unreasonable at all, especially considering the two of you just met.

Walton asks Victor for some details on how to create your own monster; Victor declines.

Victor believes his dead friends and family are visiting him. It’s sad; it’s sweet; and does not any of them ask, “what about Ernest?”

Walton is still looking at Victor as his new bestie: “what a glorious creature must he have been in the days of his prosperity, when he is thus noble and godlike in ruin.” Well, Walton, before he became action hero, he was smart, intelligent, and reacted to stress and conflict with such avoidance techniques as illness and removing himself from the situation.

Poor Victor. He has no hope of happiness: “the companions of our childhood always posses a certain power over our minds, which hardly any later friend can obtain.” First, I love this line; second, burn to Walton and his wanting a friend.

September 2nd letter.

Dear Sister, stuck in ice, fear of mutiny.

September 5th.

Dear Sister, stuck in ice, fear of mutiny, Frankenstein sick. The sailors want to head south as soon as the ship gets free (if the ship gets free, that is); Frankenstein gives a speech to try to rally the boys to continue north, to follow Walton’s dreams (and of course find the creature).

September 7th.

Walton agrees to head south.

September 12th.

Walton is returning to England. “I have lost my hopes of utility and glory; – I have lost my friend.”

WHAT?! Despite everything, I’m sorry. Sorry for Walton; sorry for Victor. Sorry for Ernest.

Walton explains that once he agreed to go south once the ice cleared, Frankenstein became upset. He had “not many hours to live” and once again tried to get Walton to continues his quest. (Maybe, Victor, you shouldn’t have told him he’d never be as good a friend as Elizabeth and Henry; or maybe that was said to get him to say “yes I will be a good friend and continue your quest that can only end in death of me and perhaps my loved ones.”)

As Walton writes this, the creature comes, and asks Frankenstein to pardon him. Walton is moved to curiosity and compassion; the creature does have wonderful persuasive skills. But then the creature is all, oh think of me, and how much it hurt me to kill Clerval. “Think ye that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears?”

Oh. come. on. Please, creature, have some self respect, like when you admitted to liking killing William. Also? This is not all Victor’s fault. You chose your choices!

Walton is not taken on by the smooth talk of multiple syllables and complex sentence structure: “You throw a torch into a pile of buildings, and when they are consumed you sit among the ruins, and lament the fall. Hypocritical fiend.”

Now the creature is off to kill himself, but first he has to get in the last word against the dead Victor by insisting that his “agony was still superior to thine.” Sorry, creature, but Victor wins this one because you basically ruined his entire life and killed everyone he loved. Except Ernest. And thus the creature leaves us, insisting he’s going to burn himself on a funeral pile  (literally? cause it’s the arctic, right?).

He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance.”

The end.

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About Elizabeth Burns

Looking for a place to talk about young adult books? Pull up a chair, have a cup of tea, and let's chat. I am a New Jersey librarian. My opinions do not reflect those of my employer, SLJ, YALSA, or anyone else. On Twitter I'm @LizB; my email is lizzy.burns@gmail.com.

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