Chapter 2

Synopsis of Volume 3 Chapter 2

While Henry enjoys meeting people in London, Frankenstein prefers to be alone, collecting materials. After two months they travel together to Scotland, and here they separate. Frankenstein sets up his laboratory on a remote island in the Orkneys.

Commentary on Volume 3 Chapter 2

Windsor, Oxford, Matlock and the Cumberland lakes: Windsor would be of interest to Victor and Henry for its historical associations, Oxford because it is an ancient university city, while Matlock (in the Peak District of Derbyshire) and the Lake District were becoming increasing popular as a result of recent changes in landscape taste.

here that Charles I had collected his forces: in 1642, at the beginning of the English Civil War, King Charles established his headquarters at Oxford, but was forced to flee the city in 1646 as the Parliamentary army approached.

the amiable Falkland, the insolent Goring: Lucius Cary, second Viscount Falkland, was Charles I's secretary of state; George, Baron Goring was one of King Charles's generals during the English Civil War.

John Hampdenennui: (French) boredom.

the illustrious Hampden, and the field on which he fell: John Hampden, a cousin of Oliver Cromwell who fought on his side in the English Civil War, died in 1643 in a skirmish near Oxford.

the wondrous cave: this probably refers to the High Tor Cavern near Matlock.

the cabinets of natural history: the filling of cabinets with specimens and curiosities from natural history became a popular pastime during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. In places of interest, such as Matlock, they were sometimes on public display.

men of talent: Mary Shelley is presumably referring to William Wordsworth, S. T. Coleridge and Robert Southey, collectively known as the Lake Poets. If so, the reference is anachronistic, since Wordsworth only went to live in the Lakes in 1799, Coleridge in 1800 and Southey in 1807 (see Literary context: Romanticism).

Edinburgh: the Old Town, by this time rather run down, and the eighteenth-century New Town, offered a great contrast for visitors to the city. Edinburgh was celebrated as a centre of literature, philosophy, art and Enlightenment thought.

Arthur's Seat, St Bernard's Well, and the Pentland Hills: Arthur's Seat is Arthur's Seat photo by Anthony O'Neil available through Creative Commonsthe highest of the group of hills in Holyrood Park, an area of highland landscape in the centre of Edinburgh; St. Bernard's Well was built in 1789, in the form of a Roman temple, where people could rink the supposedly health-giving waters; the Pentland Hills lie to the south of Edinburgh.

Coupar, St. Andrews … the Tay, Perth: Mary Shelley lived with friends of her father in Dundee from 1812-14, so she was familiar with the places mentioned here and with other parts of Scotland.

the remotest of the Orkneys: this group of islands lies to the north of the mainland of Scotland; in spite of having spent two years living in Scotland, it is unlikely that Mary Shelley ever visited the islands, so that her description of them here is probably based partly on what friends told her, but mainly made up largely from her imagination.

Investigating Volume 3 Chapter 2
  • This is a chapter of travel in which Victor and Henry visit a number of landscapes that were becoming increasingly popular with tourists.
    • What does Victor derive from his visits to these places?
  • Why does he decide to settle in Orkney in order to create the female companion that the monster has demanded of him?
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