Robert Walton: The ship captain whose voice opens the story. He writes to his sister of how he found Victor Frankenstein on a dog-drawn sled in an ice storm and nursed him back to health. He is the first "frame" of the frame within a frame (three times) set up of the story
1.2 Victor Frankenstein
Victor Frankenstein: The unfortunate protagonist of the story, Victor tells Robert Walton the story of how he ended up where the captain found him. He went to study in Ingolstadt, and while there, found the secret to creating life. He created a hideous but intelligent monster, and then fled the scene in horror. "Victor keeps his creation of the monster a secret, feeling increasingly guilty and ashamed as he realizes how helpless he is to prevent the monster from ruining his life and the lives of others." (As seen in Spark Notes)
He is the second frame of the frame within a frame set up, as he tells his story within the letter of the ship captain.
1.3 The Monster
The Monster: Frankenstein's gentle yet grotesque looking monster, who tries to assimilate himself in regular human life. Everyone who sees him ostracizes him, leading him to feel alone and angry. This ultimately causes him to wreak havoc on Victor's life, in an attempt to exact revenge.
He is the final frame within the other two, as he tells his story of tragedy and loneliness to Victor within Victor's story to Robert Walton.
Alphonse Frankenstein: Victor's father, who loves and supports him, and reminds him often of the importance of family.
1.5 Elizabeth Lavenza
Elizabeth Lavenza: An orphan three or four years younger than Victor that the Frankenstein's adopt. She waits patiently for Victor's affection, and ends up being the woman he cares for and marries.
1.6 Henry Clerval
Henry Clerval: Victor's friend from childhood who finds him in Ingolstadt in a sickly state right after Victor created his monster, and nurses him back to health. He is inspired by Victor, and goes on to study science like him. While Victor is rather morose, Henry is cheerful.
1.7 William Frankenstein
William Frankenstein: Victor's youngest brother; the monster strangled him in an effort to hurt Victor for abandoning him. Victor feels vastly guilty after his youngest brother's death for ever creating the monster.
1.8 Justine Moritz
Justine Moritz: A young girl that gets adopted into the Frankenstein household. She gets blamed for William's death, and is executed. Victor feels terrible about this because he knows it was his monster, and that she's innocent.
1.9 The peasant family
The peasant family: A family of peasants, including the blind old man De Lacey, from which the monster learns to speak and how to interact with others through observing them. De Lacey's son and daughter, Felix and Agatha, and a woman named Safie live with him. When the monster reveals himself, they try and beat him up and chase him away
Waldman: The professor that sparks Victor's interest in science
2.1.1 The monster
Monstrosity: The monster is obviously the most pervasive and obvious example of monstrosity. He is created not in an "enlightening" and scientific manner, but rather in a dark and supernatural one, causing everything about him from his giant stature, to his ugly appearance, to be the epitome of "unnatural".
Monstrosity: It can be said that Victor is the real monster of this story, for becoming alienated from society by maintaining his creation a secret, for abandoning his creation out of disgust and fear, and for becoming consumed with hatred, obsessed with revenge through the destruction of the monster.
2.2.1 "The Modern
Modern Prometheus: Mary Shelley's full title "Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus" displays the importance of light and fire in the story. Prometheus was a character in a Greek mythological story that stole the secret of fire from the gods, and shared his secret with man. He was later punished harshly. Science can be seen as finding the light or becoming enlightened, thus, making Victor a Prometheus of sorts in his finding the secret of life. He is also punished, but his secret remains a secret.
2.2.2 Light = becoming
Light (becoming enlightened): In Frankenstein, science represents the lighting of the darkness that is the natural world. Science illuminates, in a way, how the natural world works. The monster's first encounter with fire displays the duality of this "light"; on one hand, light can clear the darkness (he notices it lights up the dark). On another, it can hurt whomever gets too close (he gets hurt from touching it).
2.3 Dangerous knowledge
Dangeours Knowledge: Victor Frankenstein's pursuit of knowledge leads to everyone he holds near and dear dying, and his ultimate demise. Walton learns from Victor's mistake, and ends up pulling back from his own treacherous endeavors in an effort to avoid making Frankenstein's mistakes.
This theme ties in with the theme of light and fire. Science represents light/fire; Victor ended up "burning" himself through his tireless ambitions, and he destroyed his life all in the pursuit of "light".
3 Plot Overview
3.1 INTRO: Robert Walton writes his
sister in England regarding
how his dangerous trek has
3.1.1 FINAL PART TOLD BY WALTON: Walton
tells the remainder of the story in another
series of letters to his sister. Victor,
already ill when the two men meet,
worsens and dies shortly thereafter. When
Walton returns, several days later, to the
room in which the body lies, he is startled
to see the monster weeping over Victor.
The monster tells Walton of his immense
solitude, suffering, hatred, and remorse.
He asserts that now that his creator has
died, he too can end his suffering. The
monster then departs for the northernmost
ice to die.
3.2 His traveling is interrupted by seas
full of ice, and he runs into Victor
Frankenstein, who he finds weak
and sick in the frigid weather.
3.3 Walton brings him aboard, and
nurses him back to health. Victor
then recounts the tale of how he
came to be riding a dog-drawn sled
in the icy terrain
3.4 FRANKENSTEIN'S STORY: He tells Walton of his
early life spent with Henry and Elizabeth in
Geneva. He then describes his going away to the
University of Ingolstadt, where he studies
chemistry and natural philosophy. It is here he
believes he discovers the secret to life.
3.5 Victor spends months creating a creature using
body parts he gets from graveyards, and then brings
it to life one night in his apartment. He goes into his
room and falls asleep, but his sleep is filled with
nightmares combined with the image of the hideous
monster looming over him. The creature is so
horrifying, that he awakes in a panic, and flees his
apartment in an insane fever. As he is wandering, he
runs into his friend Henry, who has come to study at
Ingolstadt. Henry gets Victor back to his apartment,
where the monster is no where to be found, and falls
3.6 As Victor prepares to return to his home in
Geneva to see his family and heal, he
receives a letter from his father stating that
his youngest brother William has been killed.
He rushes home. He catches a glimpse of
the monster as he walks through the forest
where his brother is killed, and is then
convinced that the monster did it.
3.7 Justine is tried and convicted despite her
pleas of innocence; she is then executed.
Victor feels infinitely guilty and responsible for
the death of both William, and Justine
3.8 To try and ease his immense grief,
Victor heads to the mountains. He
runs into the monster who then tells
3.9 THE MONSTER'S STORY: The monster tells Victor of his initial
confusion, his learning about the elements (when he sees the fire lights
the dark and brings warmth, and then burns himself because he gets too
close), his being rejected from a hut he enters in search of food, and
how he travels to a village where he is rejected yet again based on his
appearance. He vows to stay away from humans, and heads back into
solitude in the woods. He comes upon a cottage, and can see inside, so
he starts learning the language of the people he watches based on their
actions. As he learns their language, he realizes they are increasingly
sad because they are becoming poorer. When he realizes this is
because he has been stealing food to stay nourished, he promptly stops
and starts putting fire wood by their door to try and make up for it.
3.10 He realizes that he will
never receive the same
type of affection the
people give each other
because he is too
grotesque and feels
3.11 PART II OF FRANKENSTEIN'S
STORY: After hearing the
monster's story, the monster tells
Victor he wants him to make
another monster, a female, who
will be his sole companion
3.12 Frankenstein goes away to start creating the
female monster, but gets scared after seeing
the male monster looking in on him grinning a
terrible grin as he works, and destroys her.
The male monster is then outraged and tells
Victor he will be with him on his wedding night
to exact revenge. Victor takes a boat later
that night and drops all of the scrap body
parts into the water. He is then met at the
shore by policemen who tell him he is under
arrest for the murder of his friend Henry, who
has been strangled by the monster.
3.13 Victor falls ill, raving and feverish, and is kept in
prison until his recovery, after which he is
acquitted of the crime. Shortly after returning to
Geneva with his father, Victor marries Elizabeth.
He fears the monster’s warning and suspects that
he will be murdered on his wedding night. To be
cautious, he sends Elizabeth away to wait for him.
While he awaits the monster, he hears Elizabeth
scream and realizes that the monster had been
hinting at killing his new bride, not himself. Victor
returns home to his father, who dies of grief a
short time later. Victor vows to devote the rest of
his life to finding the monster and exacting his
revenge, and he soon departs to begin his quest.
3.14 Victor tracks the monster ever northward into the ice.
In a dogsled chase, Victor almost catches up with the
monster, but the sea beneath them swells and the ice
breaks, leaving an unbridgeable gap between them. At
this point, Walton encounters Victor, and the narrative
catches up to the time of Walton’s fourth letter to his