Frankenstein: “Destiny! Destiny!”
Perhaps I should give this more thought, but I found chapter two straightforward: Victor’s cousin, Elizabeth, is stricken with scarlet fever but her symptoms are mild and she recovers. However, on the eve of his departure for university in Ingolstadt, Victor’s mother–Elizabeth’s aunt–contracts the disease while tending to her niece, suffers for it and then dies. Reflecting on her death, Victor tells Robert Walton:
“…When the lapse of time proves the reality of the evil, then the actual bitterness of grief commences. Yet from whom has not that rude hand rent away some dear connection; and why should I describe a sorrow which all have felt, and must feel? The time at length arrives, when grief is rather an indulgence than a necessity; and the smile that plays upon the lips, although it may be deemed a sacrilege, is not banished.”
Okay, so the boy climbs on top of his grief and travels to Ingolstadt so he can roll out the barrel– (Oh, if Victor digs up his mother and shoots one point two one jiggawatts through her body like she was a time-travelin’ DeLorean…) –where he meets his natural philosophy professor, a Mr. Krempe, who inquires of Victor his recent endeavors in varied branches of science. Of course the nineteen-year old Victor shares the list of authors he had indulged in, the very ones his own father had derided him for, and thus Mr. Krempe promptly chides Vic for the time he had “utterly and entirely lost” in these pursuits. (‘You’ll shoot your eye out!’) Undeterred, the kid does the twentieth century equivalent of ‘yeah, whatever’ and dismisses the professor as a
“…little squat man, with a gruff voice and repulsive countenance… Besides, I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand; but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded.”
All Victor needs is a friendly face, a kindred spirit, and–well, what do you know, he does!–a Mr. Waldman, who teaches chemistry. (“Werner Heisenberg…meet Edward Teller.”)
“[Waldman] heard with attention my little narration concerning my studies, and smiled at the names of Cornelius Agrippa, and Paracelsus, but without the contempt that M. Krempe had exhibited… He then took me into his laboratory, and explained to me the uses of his various machines; instructing me as to what I ought to procure, and promising me the use of his own, when I should have advanced far enough in the science not to derange their mechanism. He also gave me the list of books which I had requested… Thus ended a day memorable to me; it decided my future destiny.”
Destiny? No. No. I won’t say it. I won’t go there– Okay. I give in. I’ll say it.
“DESTINY! DESTINY! NO ESCAPING THAT FOR ME! DESTINY! DESTINY!”
When you hear someone pontificating about destiny, one of two things will occur: they will invent the polio vaccine and save millions of lives, or they will zap a tarantula with max radiation and then forget to lock the cage.
“Hey…Ma? Whars the uh, um, uh– I had me a spider in this here crate…now it’s dun gone and runned off. And thars a hole in the side of the house. And the neighbors down the road are sqawkin’ up a fuss sumpin’ fierce.”
On to chapter three.