Frankenstein: Novel Summary: Chapters 1-2

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Chapter 1: Victor Frankenstein begins his autobiography by explaining that he is Genevan by birth, and from a distinguished European family. He describes how his mother and father came to be married. His father is older than most married men when he marries Caroline Beaufort, the daughter of a noble man who has lost all his money and forced to live in "wretchedness." This man-Beaufort-eventually dies, leaving Caroline alone and very poor. After two years, however, she and Alphonse Frankenstein marry. Victor is born a few years later. He has a very enjoyable childhood, and loves his parents very much. Eventually, the family adopts Elizabeth-an orphan girl-and she and Victor develop a special relationship. In fact, Victor describes Elizabeth as the "beautiful and adored companion of all [his] occupations and [his] pleasures." He sees it as his special duty to love and protect her.
Chapter 2: In the second chapter, Victor elaborates more on his relationship with his schoolmates. Though he has a very happy childhood, he never had very many friends. One boy-Henry Clerval-did become his best friend. When Victor is seven years old, his parents have another child-a boy. He doesn't elaborate on this point at all, except to say that after the birth of this child the family decides to stay near Geneva permanently.
The rest of the chapter, however, is devoted to the recounting of his fervent love for science. "Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember," Victor explains. Soon the young scholar begins reading the writings of alchemists such as Cornelius Agrippa. This man, apparently, is a medieval scientist who's teachings were largely refuted by the contemporary chemists of Victor's time. Obsessed with Agrippa, however, Victor continues to read and study his books. Though for a short time he grows disillusioned with chemistry and chooses to study the "pure" laws of mathematics instead, his terrible fate somehow persuades him to continue in the field of science.

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