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Frankenstein Chapter 5 Summary

Instructor: Dori Starnes

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

In chapter 5 of 'Frankenstein,' Victor Frankenstein has completed the work he began in Ingolstadt. He assembles and then animates a body, but his joy turns to horror when he realizes what he's done.

Frankenstein Chapter 5

In chapter 5 of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Victor has finally finished his scientific creation -- he has put together a human body from various parts. But when he animates the creature, it is not at all what he was expecting. His joy reduced to horror, Victor can do nothing but contemplate his atrocity.

Review of Chapters 1-4

In the book's introduction we meet the explorer Walton, who is trying to reach the North Pole. Out on the ice, Walton picks up a strange traveler. In chapter 1, we learn this strange man is Victor Frankenstein, and he begins to tell Walton the story of his life. In chapter 2, we get a little background into the interests of teenage Victor and what sets him on the path to his scientific work.

In chapter 3, tragedy strikes Victor when his mother dies, and hope returns when he heads off to the University of Ingolstadt to begin his study with Professor Waldman. In chapter 4, Victor completes his studies, discovers what he calls the secret of life, and begins to build a human body from parts.

Victor Beholds the Monster

On a rainy night in November, Victor Frankenstein finally finishes his creation. So he collects what he needs and prepares to animate the man he has created from bits and parts. Victor does his work, and as he looks down on the creature he admires its perfection and beauty…until it opens its eyes.

Victor recoils in horror when he sees the creature's dull yellow eyes, almost exactly the color of the skin surrounding them. Suddenly what had been beautiful becomes terrifying, and Victor stumbles back from what he now calls the 'monster' and cowers in his bed. He expects to have trouble sleeping, but his exhausted body takes over and Victor falls into a deep slumber.

While he's sleeping Victor dreams about his wife-to-be, Elizabeth Lavenza. In his dream, she is walking the streets of Ingolstadt and he runs to her and kisses her. Under his hands and lips, she turns to a corpse and then into his dead mother. Heart pounding, Victor jerks awake, where he sees the monster standing by his bed. The creature grins and mumbles something, and Victor runs from his apartment.

Victor animates the creature
Victor animates the creature

Victor's Flight and Meeting

Victor ends up in the courtyard behind the building he lives in. He paces around the small space until morning, pondering what he's done. He reflects on how something so beautiful can be so ugly, and he is horrified at his own actions in first creating and then abandoning the monster. When Dawn breaks, Victor takes a walk through the wet, empty streets of Ingolstadt. There, he sees a carriage come to a halt.

Victor's horror turns to joy when his good friend Henry Clerval steps out of the carriage. Henry explains that his father has finally agreed to let him study languages at Ingolstadt, and suggests they go to Victor's apartment and have some breakfast.

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