What is the rising action of the plot in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?

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tinicraw eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The rising action of a plot is the scenes where critical events enhance or deepen the conflict. That is to say, rising action intensifies the conflict for the protagonist and makes it more difficult to solve the main problem. In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it seems as though any time someone from Victor's family dies the plot thickens. Victor's must take responsibility for giving the creature life and then do something about it. The more Victor avoids this responsibility, the more people die. 

The rising action begins when Victor actually creates the monster. Then he runs away from his creation and doesn't take any responsibility for its life. As a result, the creature is left to fend for itself and deal with his feelings of abandonment. While left alone for two years, the creature learns how to read and speak. The creature's heightened sense of intelligence and self is part of the rising action because it makes him more of a threat to Victor in the future.

Then, when the creature comes back to find Victor, he winds up killing William first. This gets Victor's attention. While on the journey home for William's funeral, Victor sees the creature for the first time by lightning in a storm. It is at this point that he realizes that the creature murdered his brother.

Next, a family servant named Justine is tried and killed because of the creature's crime. If these deaths weren't bad enough, the next rising action occurs when Victor and the creature meet in chapter ten and Victor says the following:

"For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness" (70). 

From chapter 11 to chapter 16 the creature tells the story of his life since Victor left him helpless two years earlier. Then in chapter 17 the creature asks for a female to be created to subdue his loneliness. This request is part of the rising action because it makes one wonder how Victor will respond to the creature's demands. It takes Victor a long time to start creating the female, but when he is almost finished with her he goes back on his word and destroys the body. This is the next rising action because rather than approach a solution to his problem, he creates a worse problem: now the creature is angrier and more vengeful. The creature vows revenge on Victor's wedding night in response to the destruction of the female creature. 

The next rising action is Victor's best friend Henry Clerval's murder in chapter 21. Still, Victor does nothing to stop the creature or solve the problem. It isn't until the murder of Elizabeth in chapter 23 that Victor finally decides to do something about the creature once and for all. After she dies, an epic chase ensues over vast geographical distances. The creature leads his creator up towards the Arctic, where he finally kills Victor on Captain Walton's ship. Victor's death is the climax that ends the rising action because there is nothing more between creator and creature to fight about. 

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Frankenstein

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