Chapter 3

Synopsis of Volume 1 Chapter 3

Under the guidance of his two professors, Frankenstein gains a reputation as a talented and industrious student. He develops an interest in human anatomy and begins to ask questions about the principles of life.

After extensive study of dead bodies, he discovers a method of reanimating dead matter. He resolves to create and give life to a being assembled from parts of dead bodies.

During a period of two years, he never visits Geneva, does not write to his family and becomes ill from long hours of obsessive study.

Commentary on Volume 1 Chapter 3

In my education … supernatural horrors: by discouraging Frankenstein from being afraid of the supernatural, his father has prepared him for the kind of work he plans to undertake. He is not horrified by the sight of dead bodies and is able to remain detached and objective when he observes their decay.

This is another example of the care with which Mary Shelley specifies the various elements in Victor's upbringing and education that lead him to behave in the way he does.

I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter: although Mary Shelley drew heavily upon her scientific reading, this is a good example of her vagueness about how Frankenstein actually carries out his experiments and achieves his results. See Earth, clay, dust

a new species would bless me as its creator: a clear indication of Victor's increasing delusion about his power and his right to create life. The irony of the novel is that the creature is not grateful for his existence.

I then thought that my father would be unjust: although Frankenstein apologises to Walton for this paragraph reflecting on his past behaviour, Mary Shelley may have good reason to show at this early stage in the story that Frankenstein regrets what he has done.

Investigating Volume 1 Chapter 3
  • What kind of issues does Frankenstein's plan involve from a scientific point vof view?
  • What moral and religious issues arise from his plan?
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