The main characters in Frankenstein are Victor Frankenstein, the creature, Robert Walton, Elizabeth Lavenza, William Frankenstein, and Henry Clerval.
- Victor Frankenstein is a talented scientist who succeeds in creating life from assembled body parts.
- The creature is a large, manlike creature assembled from body parts and endowed by Frankenstein with human sensibilities.
- Robert Walton is an explorer who hears the dying Frankenstein’s story.
- Elizabeth Lavenza is Frankenstein’s foster sister and bride. She is killed by the creature.
- William Frankenstein is Victor’s brother and is killed by the creature.
- Henry Clerval is Victor’s friend and a scientist, and he is killed by the creature.
Last Updated on February 25, 2021, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 371
Victor Frankenstein is introduced as a tortured man on his deathbed, bent on destroying the creature he arrogantly brought into existence. However, in his youth, he was a bright and curious boy full of boundless optimism who hoped to leave a lasting impression on humanity. Born in Geneva, Switzerland, to doting parents, Victor leads a happy childhood. As a child, he was fascinated by the writings of ancient alchemists, which spurred his interest in studying immortality. After he enters the University of Ingolstadt, he learns to combine his love for mysticism with more modern methodologies. (Read our extended character analysis of Victor Frankenstein.)
The creature is the product of Victor Frankenstein’s labors, a shockingly ugly, eight-foot-tall being assembled and animated from dead tissue. Victor designs him to be beautiful, a higher version of the human form. However, after seeing the creature’s ghastly visage for the first time, Victor flees in disgust, and the creature is left alone in the world. However, despite the creature’s repulsive appearance, Victor has apparently succeeded in creating a superior being; the creature is faster, stronger, and more resilient than the average human, and he shows himself to be articulate, rational, and capable of deep emotional reflection. (Read our extended character analysis of Frankenstein's Creature.)
Robert Walton is the narrator of the novel’s frame story and his letters to his sister Margaret convey Victor’s story to readers. His ship rescues Victor during an expedition in the arctic and Victor and Walton become friends. Victor tells Walton his life story and cautions the younger man against pursuing forbidden knowledge. At the start of the novel, Walton is a young, self-educated man who hopes to uncover new knowledge and make an impact on the world by exploring the arctic. However, after his encounter with Victor, he reluctantly turns back towards England at the behest of his crew, unfulfilled but ultimately wiser. (Read our extended character analysis of Robert Walton.)
In addition to the main characters above, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein includes many minor characters—such as Henry Clerval, Elizabeth Lavenza, and Justine Moritz. For more information about these characters and others, read more about them on their own page.