Frankenstein Study Guide

Frankenstein

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein is presented as a frame tale, told by Captain Walton while on an expedition to the North Pole, where he finds Frankenstein. Frankenstein is a scientist who created a monstrous human-like Creature. The Creature tried to explain his murders to Frankenstein, claiming that people rejected and feared him, begging Frankenstein to make him a mate. Frankenstein first agrees then destroys the mate. The enraged Creature kills Frankenstein's wife, fleeing to the North Pole. After Frankenstein dies, Walton sees the Creature mourning as he floats away on a raft.

Brief Summary

While making the monster's female companion, Victor paused and reflected on his work. He was filled with remorse for having created the first monster and foresaw horrible things if he created a second. Suddenly Victor caught sight of the monster outside his laboratory, watching him with a horrifying grin. In a passion, Victor ripped up the second creature he had been making. The monster howled in anger and fled.

Victor left his laboratory and returned to his room. The monster found him there calling him "slave," the monster ordered Victor to obey his commands. Victor told the monster he was resolute in his decision to stop his creation. The monster threatened that he would be with Victor on his wedding night and then left.

The next day, a letter arrived from Clerval, who asked Victor to visit with him before Clerval went on a trip to India. The idea of seeing Clerval cheered Victor somewhat. Victor cleaned out his laboratory and then in the middle of the night night, he sailed out onto the sea and dumped the remains of his second creature. Then Victor fell asleep in his boat and awoke far away from shore. Eventually he found land and stepped into an Irish town. Soon, however, he was told he was a prime suspect in a murder and was under arrest.

Detailed Summary

While making the monster's female companion, Victor paused and reflected on his work. He was filled with remorse for having created the first monster. It occurred to him that the female creature would also have thoughts of her own, and perhaps wish to go against the monster's wishes. She, too, might even abandon the monster and he would be angrier and more bitter than ever. The terrifying thought struck Victor that the two might make children together, possibly leading to generations of horror, and possibly the extinction of the human race.

As Victor fearfully considered these things, he glanced up he caught sight of the monster outside his laboratory, watching Victor with a horrifying grin. Victor thought the monster's face was vile with contempt and he was overwhelmed with a sense of how wrong his project was. In a passion, Victor ripped up the second creature he had been making. The monster witnessed this in agony, howled in anger and pain, and fled.

Victor left his laboratory and returned to his room. He watched the moonlit ocean for several hours. Suddenly he heard oars paddling near his window, and soon his door opened. The monster entered and addressed him in a choked voice. He asked whether Victor dared to go back on his promise, and he explained to Victor how much hardship he had endured already. Victor yelled at the monster to leave him. Calling him "slave," the monster ordered Victor to obey his commands, as the monster was now more powerful than his creator. Victor told the monster he was resolute in his decision to stop his creation. The monster expressed his terrible agony at being refused a mate, and then threatened Victor and promised him he would be with Victor on his wedding night.

The words echoed in Victor's mind and he thought painfully of Elizabeth grieving his death. Victor spent the night awake, and his anger turned to sorrow. He wandered around in a stupor, feeling isolated from the world. A boat arrived with letters from Clerval, who asked Victor to visit with him before Clerval went on a trip to India. The idea of seeing Clerval cheered Victor somewhat.

The following day Victor cleaned out his laboratory of any instruments and packed the remains of his creature into a basket. At night, he sailed out onto the sea and dumped out the remains. Then Victor fell asleep in his boat and awoke far away from shore. Victor spent several terrifying hours in confusion on the expansive sea, until finally he spotted land. Overjoyed, he sailed towards the town.

Reaching shore, crowds of people gathered near Victor and stood in clumps, whispering. When Victor asked a man questions about the land he had reached, the man called Victor a villain and informed Victor that he had landed in Ireland. Victor was alarmed. Someone else told Victor he would have to speak with the magistrate regarding the recent murder of a man in town. Victor was frightened at first, but knew that he was innocent. This knowledge calmed him.

Analysis

Working on the female companion, Victor realizes he had been in the same situation three years before. He realized that the outcome of that project had been a barbarous monster that had inflicted great pain on the world. Victor is again burdened by guilt. He asks great questions of himself and this second project of his. The creation of this mate could, possibly, mean the end of the human race.

After considering these doubts, and upon seeing the monster's hate-filled face in the moonlight, Victor rips apart his project, aborting the beginnings of a female companion for the monster. The female monster was never created fully yet her character is significant. For Victor she would have been a second mistake that would have had dramatically horrible consequences for the human race. For the monster, however, she would have been his only chance at friendship or an emotional connection.

Many of the female characters in the novel fit into a mold of feminine ideals. They are gentle and giving, selfless and passive. Victor destroys the monster's female companion because he feels threatened by the potential power that such a being might have. He is afraid of her ability to reproduce, and dreads the onset of a new generation of monsters. He wonders what would happen if, having a mind of her own, she denies the monster or refuses to satisfy him. Essentially Victor fears creating another force that he cannot control, and that could easily wreak incredible havoc on the world. Victor makes sure that this female character continues to fill the gentle and passive role when he decides that she should not exist.

You'll need to sign up to view the entire study guide.

Sign Up Now, It's FREE