The 17 year-old Victor is poised to become a student at Ingolstadt
University in Germany, but a local outbreak of scarlet fever delays his trip. Both his mother and Elizabeth are struck down with the disease and only Elizabeth survives. Before Caroline dies, she reveals
her desire that Victor and Elizabeth should marry.
Elizabeth takes over control of the household and Victor finds it difficult
to say goodbye to his family at this time, but he is encouraged to begin his studies in Ingolstadt.
In Germany, two professors, Krempe and Waldman, become Victor’s main
mentors. He finds Waldman’s teaching much more conducive and he soon has a close affinity to this professor.
In Victor’s narration he describes Professor Waldman as a 50 year-old who
has a striking appearance and although short in height, he is remarkably upright with a sweet voice, being precise and calm.
Krempe, however, criticizes Victor’s previous studies in the field of alchemy as
being a waste of time, and that he should not have spent valuable time “studying such nonsense”. He goes on to advise Victor that he must start afresh and gives him a list of books to read.
Victor makes a point of attending the lectures of Professor Waldman.
Shelley demonstrates in this chapter that Victor faces a dilemma as to which
path his student career should take.
He receives conflicting messages from Waldman and Krempe. Whereas the latter ridicules Victor’s study of Agrippa etc., Waldman indicates that these alchemists were heading in the right direction although they did not obtain a full picture regarding this branch of science. He illustrates this by giving Victor a conducted tour of his own laboratory, and in doing so opens up new avenues for Victor to explore.
Shelley introduces the idea that technology pursued to its limits, is not
entirely good, and she will demonstrate the evil side of such work later in the novel.