Frankenstein Chapter 19 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

Dori has taught college and high school English courses, and has Masters degrees in both literature and education.

In chapter 19 of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor gets the chance to travel again, accompanied by his best friend, but he is unable to truly enjoy the experience because of the work he must complete. Read a summary of this chapter, and then test yourself.


Victor has been charged with a monumental task. The monster has asked him to build a mate, a female monster, in return for a promise that he would go away to the rain forest in South America and never bother Victor again. Victor agrees, but he needs time and room to work. When Victor's father questions Victor's commitment to Elizabeth, his bride to be, Victor tells him that he needs space. He tells his father he is planning to go to England for two years to finish his work, and promises to wed Elizabeth on his return. Victor's best friend Henry Clerval announces that he will accompany Victor to England.

Victor and Henry Go to England

In October, Victor Frankenstein and Henry Clerval arrive in London. While Clerval is in his element, spending time talking with men of talent, Victor is morose. He goes to see natural philosophers and plans the work ahead of him. Victor muses that if he were still a student, he would have been thrilled to be in London. As it is, he's anxious to get the job over with and return home to Geneva and Elizabeth. Victor admits he's glad of Henry's company, and in Henry he sees the way he must have been before his work corrupted him. Henry is sad that Victor won't accompany him on excursions, but Victor tells him that he is too busy.

In February, Victor and Henry get a letter from a friend in Scotland, inviting them for a visit. So they decide to leave England in March to travel to Perth in the Scottish highlands. Victor enjoys visiting the cities on their way, especially Oxford, but his mind is on the project ahead. Henry tells Victor that he could easily live forever in Oxford. The two travel on, nearing the Scottish border.

Victor Says Goodbye to Henry

Victor is anxious to get on with his work and afraid the monster will harm his family and friends. Whenever he receives a letter from home, he worries that it will bring bad news, and he clings to Henry's side in case the monster should appear and attack his friend.

Henry and Victor stay a while in Edinburgh, but Victor is too mopey to enjoy it. They finally reach Perth in the Scottish highlands, and Victor realizes he needs to separate from his friend. Victor tells Henry to go on without him, that he has a task to complete and that he will meet up with him later. Henry says no at first, but eventually agrees. He begs Victor to write him often. They plan to meet up again in two months.

Victor worked on a desolate shore to create a mate for the monster
Victor works on a desolate island to create a mate for the monster

Victor's Work in the Orkneys

Victor travels to the Orkneys, remote islands off the northern coast of Scotland. This is where he will complete the work of making the female monster. The tiny island he goes to has only five residents and a handful of scrawny cows. Any vegetables or meat need to come by boat, so the main food for the islanders is oatmeal.

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