Summary of the Novel
Robert Walton, an explorer, describes his trip to the Arctic in letters to his sister, Margaret Saville, who lives in England. After discussing his preparations for the trip, one of Walton’s letters informs Margaret that his ship is stuck and surrounded by ice. Walton then relates a strange event: As they looked out on the enormous ice field, Walton and his crew saw a gigantic man being pulled by a dogsled. The following day they discovered another, smaller man, desperately ill, adrift on a sheet of ice. Walton writes that he brought the man onto his ship, allowed him to rest, and attempted to nurse him back to health. After a week the man was able to talk and told Walton an incredible story.
The man’s name is Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist born in Geneva, Switzerland. He is a member of a wealthy family concerned with humanitarian issues. Victor goes on to relate his story to Walton, who writes it down as Victor speaks, making a record of Victor’s story, to be sent as a letter to Margaret Saville, Walton’s sister.
Victor tells Walton that, as a boy, he was always fascinated by science and alchemy and he eventually attended the University of Ingolstadt to study natural science. At the university he focused all his attention on experiments designed to create life. After months of exhaustive study, Victor constructed a huge creature from parts of human cadavers. He then discovered a method of bringing it to life. However, when the creature opened its eyes, Victor was horrified by his monstrous-looking creation. He ran from his laboratory and became very ill and disoriented for almost two years. During this time, he believed that the creature must have perished.
After he recovered from his illness, as he prepared to return home to his family, Victor learned that William, his seven-year-old brother, had been murdered. Justine Moritz, a young woman the Frankenstein family had adopted, had been accused of the crime. But Victor refused to believe that Justine committed the murder. Instead, he suspected that his creature wasn’t really dead, and was responsible for the horrible crime. However, after Victor returned to Geneva, Justine was tried, found guilty, and hanged.
Victor explains to Walton that he felt responsible for William’s murder and Justine’s execution. Guilt-ridden and desperate to be alone, he climbed into the mountains, where he encountered the creature. The creature told Victor that he had survived for the past two years, hiding out in the woods and eating nuts and berries. Lonely and miserable, he realized that he was repulsive to other human beings. In the forest, though, the creature discovered a gentle peasant family living in a cottage; by secretly observing them, the creature learned to read and write. Then, in his jacket pocket, the creature found Victor’s journal and read of the experiments that led to his creation. Enraged, he concluded that it was Victor Frankenstein who was responsible for his misery.
After relating his story, the creature demanded that Victor re-create his experiment and construct another creature. The creature explained he was desperate for a companion who would not find him repulsive. If Victor does as he asks, he will go away with the new creature and never bother Victor again. Although wary of the proposal, Victor says he reluctantly agreed to the creature’s request.
Victor tells Walton that he set up a new laboratory in Scotland and began the work of creating a companion for the creature. But he was haunted by the thought that this new monster might be more evil than the original, and he was terrified at the idea of the two creatures creating a new, horrible race of beings. So instead of completing his task, Victor destroyed his work before giving life to the new creation. But the original creature was watching Victor in his laboratory. Furious, he swore revenge, vowing to torment Victor for the rest of his life. Later that night the creature strangled Victor’s best friend, Henry Clerval.
Several weeks later, Victor married Elizabeth Lavenza, a girl who was adopted by his family, and with whom Victor had always been in love. But after Victor and Elizabeth marry, the creature appeared on their wedding night and strangled Elizabeth to death. Grief-stricken over the death of Elizabeth, Alphonse Frankenstein, Victor’s father, died a few months later. In utter despair, Victor vowed to pursue the creature and destroy it. He chased the monster for months, finally arriving in the Arctic where he met Walton and his expedition.
Having finished his story, Victor Frankenstein dies on Walton’s ship. Walton ends the tale in additional letters to his sister, telling her that the night Victor died, the creature entered Victor’s room and lamented his death. He then told Walton he planned to build a huge fire and burn himself to death. Before Walton could respond, the creature jumped from the ship and landed on a floating slab of ice. Walton concludes his final letter, telling Margaret that the creature was carried out to sea, where he disappeared into the darkness.
Published in 1818, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus added to the growing body of Romantic fiction published in the early 1800s. Shelley became one of the most influential writers of both Romantic and Gothic fiction, establishing, with Frankenstein, a new genre known today as science fiction.
Gothic romance often deals with mysterious and supernatural subjects. Gothic stories frequently take place in rugged, natural settings, near ancient castles or monasteries. The plots are suspenseful and usually deal with the forces of good and evil. One of the earliest works of Gothic fiction is Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto (1764).
In his novel, Walpole challenged the realistic style of the time by writing about the past and the subconscious. His Gothic romance is one of the earliest examples of the emerging romantic movement. Novels such as Ann Radcliffe’s Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), Matthew Gregory Lewis’s The Monk (1796), and William Godwin’s Caleb Williams are other examples of the Gothic romance. American writers such as Nathaniel Hawthorne and Edgar Allan Poe also wrote in the Gothic style, which remained popular until the 1820s.
Romanticism was a separate intellectual and artistic movement that began in Europe in the middle of the eighteenth century. Romantics, who promoted the uniqueness of individual imagination and expression, believed in the interrelation of nature, spirituality, and humankind. The movement, which began in Germany, soon became popular in England as well. The lyrical ballads of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge are generally considered to be the beginning of English romanticism. Many other writers, including Lord Byron William Blake John Keats and Mary Shelley’s husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote in the romantic style. Other notable fiction writers of the time include Jane Austen whose Pride and Prejudice (1813) remains popular even today, and the poet Sir Walter Scott who wrote his first novel, Waverly, in 1814.
In addition to their philosophical and spiritual concerns, the Romantic writers were also affected by the political events of the time. Beginning in 1789, the French Revolution had created an upheaval in Europe. Social reorganization lasted for the next 10 years as the rebellion continued to change the social structure and government of France. While many of the Romanticists favored the original principles of the revolution, which effectively abolished the French monarchy in favor of a more democratic system controlled by the middle classes, they were opposed to the extreme violence that helped bring about the changes. At the same time, England was also experiencing a profound transformation. The Industrial Revolution had made England a leading economic force in the world as mechanical power helped boost the country’s production in every area of industry and manufacture.
After the French Revolution France which had aided the rebellious British colonies during the American Revolution soon found itself engaged in a war with England. In 1804 Napoleon Bonaparte was crowned emperor of a revolutionary France still in flux. Within seven years, Napoleon had conquered all of Europe, from Spain to the Russian border with Prussia. The British, however, with the help of their powerful navy, remained unconquered. Then, in 1812, after Napoleon invaded Russia, a severe Russian winter cost France most of its army. A new European alliance, nurtured by British money and diplomacy, sprang up and France was defeated in Germany and Spain. Finally, in 1814, Napoleon surrendered and Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia drafted a peace treaty in Vienna. The following year, Napoleon returned from exile and raised a new army, but allied forces commanded by the British Duke of Wellington defeated Napoleon during a three-day battle at Waterloo in June 1815.
Mary Shelley, who was experiencing turmoil in her own family, was raised during this time of political unrest and violence. Her relationship with Percy Shelley was scandalous at the time, but she gained acceptance at an early age with the publication of Frankenstein. The book was as controversial as her affair with Shelley. Sir Walter Scott, writing in Blackwood’s magazine, praised the novel as an “extraordinary tale” and Shelley as an author with “uncommon powers of poetic imagination.” Edinburgh magazine said Shelley demonstrated a “mastery in harsh and savage delineations of passion,” adding, however, that “it is one of those works . . . which we do not well see why it should have been written.” The Quarterly Review praised the “highly terrific” language of the novel, but said “our taste and our judgment alike revolt at this kind of writing . . . it inculcates no lesson of conduct, manner, or morality; it cannot mend, and will not even amuse its readers, unless their taste have been deplorably vitiated.”
In spite of the mixed reviews it received, Frankenstein was a bestseller and would remain popular for generations. Mary Shelley became a respected author with numerous titles to her credit. It is the remarkable power of her first novel, though, that continues to inspire a host of horror stories and science fiction tales. Considering the book’s lasting influence, it is hardly surprising that film adaptations of Frankenstein are still being made today.
List of Characters
Robert Walton—An explorer who meets and cares for Victor Frankenstein while traveling in the Arctic; Walton writes to his sister, Margaret Saville, in England, relating Victor’s horrible tale.
The Creature—Victor Frankenstein’s “monster”.
Victor Frankenstein—A young man, born in Switzerland, whose study of science and natural philosophy leads to his tragic creation of the monster.
Alphonse Frankenstein—Victor’s father; a wealthy, influential man with humanitarian concerns.
Beaufort—Alphonse Frankenstein’s friend and Caroline’s father.
Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein—Victor’s mother and Alphonse’s wife; she dies shortly before Victor leaves for Ingolstadt.
Elizabeth Lavenza—A young woman who is adopted by the Frankenstein family; she marries Victor and is killed by the creature.
Henry Clerval—Victor’s best friend and closest confidant; he is also killed by the creature.
Ernest Frankenstein—Victor’s younger brother.
William Frankenstein—Victor’s youngest brother; William is murdered by Victor’s creature.
Justine Moritz—A young woman who lives with the Frankenstein family; Justine is falsely accused of killing William. She is tried and executed for the murder.
M. Krempe—Victor’s philosophy professor at the University of Ingolstadt.
M. Waldman—Another professor who becomes Victor’s mentor at Ingolstadt.
Felix De Lacey—A young peasant the creature observes living in a small cottage in the forest.
Agatha De Lacey—Felix’s sister, who also lives in the cottage.
M. De Lacey—Felix’s and Agatha’s father; the creature tries to make friends with him.
Safie—A young Turkish woman who is Felix’s fiancée.
Safie’s father—A Turkish man Felix helps escape from prison.
Mr. Kirwin—A judicial magistrate who is in charge of Victor’s case in Ireland.
Daniel Nugent—A witness in the murder case in Ireland.
Nurse—A woman who cares for Victor in prison.
Magistrate—A criminal judge in Geneva who listens to Victor’s story about the creature.
Estimated Reading Time
The Pennyroyal edition of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is 237 pages long with illustrations. While the novel is of average length, some of the language is dated and the sentences and paragraphs are rather long. The plot is complicated, and the narrative is unusual—related as a series of stories within stories and letters. It may be difficult for some readers to fully comprehend the entire text during a first reading. The average reader might want to divide his or her reading time into four or five sessions of two to three hours each, completing three to five chapters in each sitting.
Summary (Magill's Survey of World Literature, Revised Edition)
Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus is the work for which Shelley is remembered by the general public. The story unfolds in a series of letters from Robert Walton, an enterprising arctic explorer, to his sister in England. Walton reports the sighting of a giant manlike creature driving a dogsled in the icy distance. This scene is followed by the rescue of a man whose sled had become stranded in the ice floe. This man is Victor Frankenstein.
As he recovers his health, Frankenstein relates his story. He tells of his warm family life in Geneva and of his early enthusiasm for the speculative natural philosophy of alchemists such as Cornelius Agrippa. At the age of twenty-one, he leaves to study science at Ingolstadt. There, he learns the difference between modern science and mysticism. He embraces scientific method but holds onto one of the dreams of his former models—the creation of life. Ultimately, he completely embraces this goal, assembling a being of huge scale in order to simplify its construction. When his creature gains life, Frankenstein is instantly revolted. He exits the flat and wanders about, hoping that the spark of life in the creature will expire spontaneously. The following day, the creature has disappeared, and Victor is visited by his best friend, Henry Clerval, who, unaware of the creature’s existence, helps Victor to regain his composure over the next several months. In early May, Victor’s younger brother William is...
(The entire section is 1075 words.)
Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
English explorer Robert Walton’s ship is held fast in polar ice. As his company looks out over the empty ice field, they are astonished to see a sledge drawn by dogs speeding northward. The sledge driver looks huge and misshapen. At night, an ice floe carries to the ship another sledge with one dog and a man in weakened condition. When the newcomer learns that his is the second sledge sighted from the ship, he becomes agitated.
Walton is greatly attracted to the newcomer during his convalescence, and as the ship remains stuck in the ice, the men have leisure time to get acquainted. At last, after he has recovered somewhat from exposure and hunger, the man, Victor Frankenstein, tells Walton his story.
Victor is born into an aristocratic family in Geneva, Switzerland. As a playmate for their son, the parents adopt a lovely little girl, Elizabeth, of the same age. Victor and Elizabeth grow up as brother and sister. Much later another son, William, is born to the Frankensteins.
At an early age, Victor shows promise in the natural sciences. He devours the works of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus and thinks in his ignorance that they had been the real masters. When he grows older, his father decides to send him to the university at Ingolstadt. There, he soon learns all that his masters can teach him in the field of natural science. Engaged in brilliant and terrible research, he stumbles by chance on the secret of creating life. Once he...
(The entire section is 987 words.)
Few works of fiction have captured the public's imagination as Frankenstein has. Several plays, numerous movies, television shows, and even comic strips have been based on it, and generations of children have dressed up as the monster for Halloween. Although originally published over one hundred and fifty years ago, the book is still in print in almost every major language. According to Janet Harris, "since the first year of its publication there has always been, somewhere in the world, a printing press at work turning out still another copy or version of Mary's immortal story." The monster indeed has a life of his own apart from the book, as perhaps only Sherlock Holmes and Scrooge out of all the characters originally in novels do. Each generation adds its own characteristics to the monster.
Some scholars have identified Frankenstein as the source of the genre of science fiction, which seeks to define the place of man in the universe. Both the idea of a "mad scientist" and the concept of creating a person in a laboratory originated with Frankenstein. Following Mary Shelley's lead, authors such as Edgar Allan Poe, Robert Louis Stevenson, H. G. Wells, and, more recently, Robert A. Heinlein and Ray Bradbury have created horror stories whose protagonists face problems brought about by science gone awry.
Frankenstein is also a product of its time, the early nineteenth century, a world of social, political, scientific,...
(The entire section is 383 words.)
Frankenstein opens with Robert Walton's letter from St. Petersburgh, Russia, to his sister in England. He encourages her to share his enthusiasm about his journey to the North Pole to discover both the secret of magnetism and a passage through the pole. In additional letters he wavers between his solitude and alienation on the one hand, and his determined heart and resolved will on the other. His last letter tells the startling story of his having seen a being of gigantic stature shaped like a man, fleeing across the ice which is threatening to enclose the ship. The next day another sled appears, carrying the wasted and maddened Victor Frankenstein, who is pursuing the giant. Walton takes Frankenstein aboard. When he tells Frankenstein his purpose, how he hopes to make great discoveries, Frankenstein cautions him to leave off his mad pursuit. He asks him to listen to his story of how once he began in earnest to know all that could be known.
Victor's Story, Part I
Born in Naples, Italy, to a wealthy Swiss family, Victor Frankenstein is the only child of doting parents. When he is five, his mother brings home an orphaned girl named Elizabeth to be Victor's "sister." In Victor's happy childhood in Geneva, he and Elizabeth grow in their parents' love, and they are joined by more siblings. Victor develops a deep friendship with Henry Clerval, a fellow student. Where Clerval studies "the moral...
(The entire section is 1788 words.)
Summary and Analysis
Volume 1: Letters 1-4 Summary and Analysis
Robert Walton: an explorer who writes to his sister Margaret in England; he encounters Victor Frankenstein on the Arctic ice and later records his horrible story
The Creature: a huge figure Walton sees traveling in a dogsled on the ice; later we learn that this is the “monster” created by Victor Frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein: a young scientist, unidentified by Walton in these letters, who is hunting for the monster he created
The novel begins with a series of letters written by Robert Walton, a young English explorer, to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton’s first letter, written from St. Petersburg on “December 11, 17—” describes his plans for an Arctic expedition. He has been preparing for the voyage for six years, gathering information about the Arctic, and training himself physically so that he will be able to endure the harsh climate of the region. Walton also describes his youthful passion for literature. As a young man he had wanted to be a poet, but, after writing for a year, he considered himself a “failure” and he abandoned thoughts of a literary career. When he inherited a fortune from his cousin, he began to plan his Arctic expedition. Walton tells Margaret that he will begin his voyage in June.
On March 28, Walton informs his sister that he has found a...
(The entire section is 1194 words.)
Volume 1: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis
Alphonse Frankenstein: Victor’s father
Beaufort: Alphonse’s close friend and Caroline’s father
Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein: Alphonse’s wife and Victor’s mother
Elizabeth Lavenza: Victor’s adopted sister
Henry Clerval: Victor’s closest friend
Ernest Frankenstein: Victor’s brother
William Frankenstein: Victor’s youngest brother
M. Krempe: an arrogant professor at the University of Ingolstadt who ridicules Victor
M. Waldman: a friendly professor who advises Victor to study modern science
Robert Walton records Victor’s story, writing his words in the first person: Victor Frankenstein (who has yet to reveal his name) was born in Geneva, Switzerland. He grew up a member of a wealthy, influential family; his father, Alphonse Frankenstein, was involved in politics. One of Alphonse’s closest friends was a man named Beaufort, who had been a successful merchant for years until he lost his business, became sick and impoverished, and eventually died.
Beaufort’s daughter, Caroline, had taken care of her father until his death. She worked at a simple job, plaiting straw, in order to support her father and herself. Before Beaufort died, Alphonse found him living with Caroline in a miserable hut. Although Beaufort was ashamed of his situation, Alphonse did what he could...
(The entire section is 1356 words.)
Volume 1: Chapters 3, 4, and 5 Summary and Analysis
Justine Moritz: a young woman living with the Frankenstein
Under the guidance of M. Waldman, Victor dedicates himself to the study of natural science. He remains at the university for two years, completely absorbed in his studies, and becomes fascinated with the “structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal endued with life. Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?” Victor realizes that this is a “bold question” but he is determined to find the answer. He wonders “how many things are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquiries.” Victor understands that such an inquiry into the cause and nature of life will be extremely difficult, but he applies himself to his studies with an “almost supernatural enthusiasm.” However, during this time, he neglects his family and friends and doesn’t contact anyone in Geneva.
Working on his own, Victor makes an exhaustive study of the process of death and decay in the human body. Eventually he discovers a method of generating life in nonliving matter. Although excited by his discovery—“a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple”—Victor is nevertheless wary of the knowledge he now possesses. He feels that it could be dangerous, but he continues to work, convinced that he will be able to create life and ultimately...
(The entire section is 1247 words.)
Volume 1: Chapters 6 and 7 Summary and Analysis
Before he leaves Ingolstadt, Victor receives a letter from his father, Alphonse, relating the dreadful news that his youngest brother, William, was murdered while the family was on an outing in Plainpalais. During a hike, William wandered off and was discovered hours later, strangled, the killer’s handprints imbedded in his neck. Alphonse is terribly upset and he asks Victor to come home to the “house of mourning.” Victor is horrified by the news and returns to Geneva immediately.
On his journey home, Victor is sad and fearful. As he is crossing the Alps near Mont Blanc, a vicious storm suddenly appears “at once in various parts of the heavens.” Victor looks at the sky and cries out, “William, dear angel! This is thy funeral, this thy dirge!” At that moment he sees a gigantic figure illuminated by a bolt of lightning. Victor instantly recognizes the figure as the creature he brought to life, and he instinctively realizes that it was the creature who killed his brother William. Victor feels an enormous weight of responsibility for having created this “depraved wretch” who delights in death and misery.
When Victor arrives home, he learns that Justine Moritz has been arrested for William’s murder. Victor and Elizabeth, however, refuse to believe that Justine is the killer and the family is convinced that she will be found not guilty. During the trial, however, incriminating evidence is...
(The entire section is 795 words.)
Volume 2: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis
Following the deaths of William and Justine, Victor experiences a feeling of profound despair. He created the monster and now he blames himself for the deaths of two innocent people. Alphonse tries to console his son to no avail. Victor’s grief is compounded by remorse and his father doesn’t understand all of the awful reasons for his son’s depression.
The family moves to their house in Belrive, a country estate outside Geneva. At night, Victor often sails alone in the nearby lake, reflecting on his misery. He is so unhappy that he contemplates suicide and “often” considers drowning himself in the lake, but he realizes that this act would only cause his family, and especially Elizabeth, more suffering. Victor continues to live in fear that his creature will strike again, causing more pain and horror. He tells us: “My abhorrence of this fiend cannot be conceived.” Elizabeth is also having a difficult time accepting the deaths of William and Justine. She is no longer the innocent, happy person she was before the tragedy. She knows that somewhere William’s murderer is walking around freely because Justine was punished for his crime.
Victor is in such torment that he believes his only consolation would be to find the monster and take revenge. But he accompanies his family on a trip to the mountains, hoping the magnificent natural surroundings will help him forget the terrible incident. The...
(The entire section is 1080 words.)
Volume 2: Chapters 3, 4, and 5 Summary and Analysis
Felix De Lacey: a young peasant the creature observes living in a small cottage in the forest
Agatha De Lacey: Felix’s sister who also lives in the cottage
M. De Lacey: Felix’s and Agatha’s father; the creature tries to make friends with him
Safie: a young Turkish woman who is Felix’s fiancée
Sitting in the hut by the fire, the creature relates his experiences during the two years since Victor created him. The creature tells Victor about the difficulties he had trying to cope with the strange feelings of his senses. Having never had the opportunity to mature in a normal way, the creature was overwhelmed by the many sensations he experienced when he was first brought to life. He also felt confused by Victor’s rejection of him, by the bright daylight, and by the feelings of thirst and hunger that constantly plagued him. To escape the intense light, the creature ran and hid in a nearby forest, covering himself with Victor’s clothes and, later, a cloak that he finds. He passed his first night in the forest, where he discovered the remains of a campfire. Drawn to the warmth, he plunged his hands into the fire and burned himself. The creature says the experience taught him about the enormous power of fire, along with the benefits of heat and light.
In the forest, surrounded by nature, the creature tells Victor that when he first...
(The entire section is 1254 words.)
Volume 2: Chapters 6, 7, 8 and 9 Summary and Analysis
Safie’s father: a Turkish man Felix helps escape from prison
The creature continues his story. After spending months observing the peasant family, he was able to learn their language and their family history. The family, known as the De Laceys, were of noble birth and had lived in France for many years. Safie’s father, a Turkish merchant, was on trial for an unknown reason, although political motives were suspected. At the conclusion of the trial, Safie’s father was sentenced to death, an obvious injustice, and all Paris was indignant. It was generally considered that the man’s religion and wealth, and not the alleged crime, had been the cause of his condemnation.
Felix was aware of the trial, too, and he became angry at the injustice of the proceedings. He offered his assistance to Safie’s father and one day, while he was visiting him, he met Safie and they fell in love. When Safie’s father became aware of the young man’s feelings for his daughter, he offered Felix her hand in marriage in exchange for Felix’s help in escaping from prison. Felix could not accept such an indelicate offer, but he continued with his plans for Safie’s father’s escape. Felix then received several letters from Safie, thanking him for helping her father. She also told him about her mother, a Christian Arab who had been enslaved by the Turks because of her beauty. She won the heart...
(The entire section is 2093 words.)
Volume 3: Chapters 1 and 2 Summary and Analysis
After his return to Geneva, Victor finds that he is unable to “collect the courage” to begin work on the creature’s companion. He cannot overcome his repugnance to the work he must do, and he knows he will have to devote several months to the project. Victor tells us that he “clung to every pretense of delay, and could not resolve to interrupt my returning tranquility.” But he realizes that, eventually, he will have to begin the dreaded task and fulfill his promise to the creature.
Alphonse is worried about Victor because he seems so depressed. He suggests that Victor and Elizabeth marry, hoping they will find happiness together. Although he loves Elizabeth, Victor cannot imagine getting married in light of the awful thing he has agreed to do for the creature. He assures his father that he will eventually marry Elizabeth, but he cannot tell him the reason he must wait. Alphonse then arranges for Victor to go to England with Henry Clerval to study. He hopes that the “amusement of traveling” will help restore Victor’s tranquility. Elizabeth is sad that Victor is leaving, but she hopes he will return a happier person. She regrets that she does not have the same opportunities “of enlarging her experience.”
Victor sets off on his trip and meets Clerval in Strasbourg and together they set off for London. They travel along the Rhine from Strasbourg to Rotterdam, where they plan to take a ship to...
(The entire section is 1011 words.)
Volume 3: Chapters 3 and 4 Summary and Analysis
Mr. Kirwin: a judicial magistrate who is in charge of Victor’s case in Ireland
Daniel Nugent: a witness in the murder case in Ireland
Nurse: a woman who cares for Victor in prison
As he labors to bring life to the new creature, Victor recalls his earlier efforts, three years ago in Ingolstadt. He was full of hope then, excited about his experiment, but the result had been a disaster, filling his heart with “the bitterest remorse.” Now, as he works in his makeshift laboratory, Victor begins to worry about what will happen when he brings the new creature to life. What if this creature, a female, refuses to abide by the terms of the agreement he made with the first creature? She could be just as angry as the male, and feel as alienated by her deformed appearance. Or, what if she doesn’t like the first creature? What would happen if they hate each other? And suppose she is as evil and vengeful as the first creature? Then another horrifying thought consumes Victor when he wonders if the creatures will mate, starting a new, terrible race of beings.
As Victor considers these gruesome possibilities, the creature appears, peering in at him through a window. Shocked at the sight of him, Victor instantly realizes that he cannot keep his promise. As the creature watches, he destroys his new creation, tearing it apart. Outside, the creature lets out an...
(The entire section is 1725 words.)
Volume 3: Chapters 5 and 6 Summary and Analysis
Magistrate: a criminal judge in Geneva who listens to Victor’s story about the creature
Victor continues to blame himself for the deaths of William, Justine, and Henry. He says, “I am the assassin of those most innocent victims; they died by my machinations.” Because he created the creature and unleashed it on the world, he feels that he is really their killer and, therefore, is unfit to live among other human beings. During his imprisonment, Alphonse had often heard Victor make the assertion that he was responsible for the deaths, but he can’t understand why Victor feels this way. He wonders if his son is mad.
Victor and Alphonse leave Ireland and travel to France; while they are in Paris, Victor receives a letter from Elizabeth. She tells him that he is free from any obligation of marriage. Elizabeth says she realizes that, in the course of his travels, Victor may have found someone else. However, Victor still loves Elizabeth and he decides to go ahead with the marriage, hoping it will at least make her and Alphonse happy. But Victor can’t forget the creature’s threat that he will be with him on his wedding night. He writes back to Elizabeth and tells her that he has a dreadful secret he will reveal upon his return to Geneva.
When Victor and Alphonse return home, Elizabeth is disturbed by Victor’s emaciated appearance. Elizabeth has also changed,...
(The entire section is 964 words.)
Volume 3: Chapter 7 Summary and Analysis
Victor begins his search for the monster. Before he leaves Geneva, he visits the graves of Elizabeth, Alphonse, and William. In the cemetery, he swears that he will find and destroy the creature. As he stands by their graves, he hears a “fiendish laugh”; the monster has followed him to the graveyard. The monster tells Victor he is satisfied that Victor has decided to go on living. He understands that Victor’s suffering will continue. Victor chases after the creature, but all he sees is its shape, running with great speed, away from the cemetery.
Since that night, Victor says he has been in constant pursuit of the creature, traveling around the world and enduring terrible hardships. He followed the creature through the frozen lands of Tartary and Russia, exhausted and hungry, eating wild game and depending on the friendship of some villagers who often provided him with shelter and a fire for cooking his meal. During this time, the only thing that kept him going was his single-minded obsession for revenge. At one point, he followed the monster onto a ship that sailed on the Black Sea, but he was unable to catch him. Victor then traveled from village to village, seeking information from local people who may have seen the creature. Victor’s only happiness came when he would sleep, dreaming of Elizabeth and Clerval, the “benevolent countenance” of his father, and his “beloved country.” He would dream of being in...
(The entire section is 1943 words.)