Shelley's Frankenstein contains various underlying themes. Shelley's portrayal of education differs from our view of education, where men and women are schooled at the same facilities and taught the same subjects. Shelley describes a distinctive method of education which men and women are given. Men had the opportunity to attend college while women were still limited to receiving an education at home. Even thought some men did attend college, they too were educated at home. The characters in Frankenstein, Victor, Elizabeth, and of the monster, received different educations. All express the concept of being self-taught, which can be good or bad, depending on the parental figure.
The novel lets us know that from an early age, Victor Frankenstein had a desire and thirst for knowledge. He was taught at a young age by his father. Victor was the most classically educated character in the novel, attending college at the age of seventeen, and displayed the struggles he coped with because of his mental zeal and desire for knowledge. He seemed to always have a steady thirst for new and exciting things; the death of his mother only heightened his interest in the creation and destruction of life. .
Frankenstein's education became, and continued to be, his primary focus in life. He would spend his time reading the works of Albertus Magnus, Paracelsus, and Cornelius Agrippa, which his father did not approve of. When he showed his father what he was reading, his father said to him, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash." Despite his father, Victor continued to educate himself in these natural philosophies, and it was the knowledge of these alchemical sciences that allowed him to create the monster; too much education could lead to a bad thing.
Elizabeth was educated by Victor's mother, but she is, otherwise, self-taught. It seems that she has much of the same "basic" education as Victor.