Frankenstein

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Frankenstein Chapter 2 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Victor describes his perfect childhood. He and Elizabeth got along perfectly, though she favored poetry while he longed to unravel the "physical secrets" of life, including the "hidden laws of nature."
An early hint at Victor's dangerous ambition, and his innocent belief that man is powerful and wise enough to comprehend nature.
Themes
Ambition and Fallibility Theme Icon
Romanticism and Nature Theme Icon
Lost Innocence Theme Icon
In addition to Elizabeth, Victor shares a close friendship with Henry Clerval, his well-read schoolmate. Like Victor, Clerval possesses a "soaring ambition" to leave his mark on human history.
Like Victor, Henry is also too young and innocent not to see the vanity and futility of his ambitions.
Themes
Ambition and Fallibility Theme Icon
Lost Innocence Theme Icon
As he grows up, Victor becomes fascinated with "natural philosophy," and reads widely among the thinkers in this field who want to penetrate the "citadel of nature."
Nature portrayed as a fortress that will yield to an assault by man. This antagonistic relationship between Victor and nature bodes poorly.
Themes
Ambition and Fallibility Theme Icon
Romanticism and Nature Theme Icon
One day, when Victor observes lightning strike a tree, he realizes that the laws of science are beyond human understanding and decides to focus on studies based in fact, like mathematics, rather than natural philosophy. Yet he notes that he eventually returned to it, leading to his "utter and terrible destruction."
Romantic writers viewed Nature as a sublime force beyond the power or understanding of man. Here Victor senses that too. But his final comment indicates that his ambition overcomes his sense, resulting in disaster.
Themes
Ambition and Fallibility Theme Icon
Romanticism and Nature Theme Icon
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