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

Victor and Elizabeth arrived at the inn in the evening. Victor was in an extremely anxious and nervous state, and though Elizabeth inquired, Victor would not tell her his reasons. He told Elizabeth to wait in the room and he paced around the cottage. Soon, he heard a shrill scream and bursting into their room, Victor found Elizabeth strangled on the bed. He glanced up through the window and noticed the monster's gruesome face. Victor tried to shoot the monster but missed, and the monster fled.

After several hours Victor decided to go back to Geneva. He arrived in Geneva and found his father overcome with grief. The misery was too much for the aging man, and he soon died in Victor's arms.

Victor began to plan his revenge on the monster. He found a town magistrate and told him he knew who the murderer of his family was. The magistrate assured Victor he would do whatever he could to find him, yet when Victor told him his long, unbelievable story, the magistrate said he didn't think it would be possible to locate such a villain. Victor left angrily.

Detailed Summary

Victor and Elizabeth arrived at the inn in the evening, and a storm soon began. Victor was in an extremely anxious and nervous state, and though Elizabeth inquired, Victor would not tell her his reasons. He tried to put her mind at ease without revealing too much. Finally he told her to go up to their room, where he would soon join her.

Victor paced around the cottage and started to think that perhaps he was lucky and the monster had decided not to come after all. In that instant he heard a shrill scream coming from his and Elizabeth's room. Bursting in, Victor found Elizabeth strangled on the bed. He fainted.

When he came to, he rushed to embrace Elizabeth's body, and found it cold and lifeless. With panic, he glanced up through the window and noticed the monster's gruesome face, watching the scene with a jeering grin and pointing at Elizabeth. Victor grabbed a nearby pistol and fired. He missed the monster who dashed away and jumped into the lake.

The pistol shot drew a crowd of people, who then went on a search for the monster with Victor. After several hours, however, Victor collapsed with exhaustion and was carried back to the inn and put to bed. After a while he got up and went to the room where Elizabeth was lying, dead. Victor was bewildered, thinking about so much tragic death: William, Justine, Clerval and now his wife, Elizabeth. Fearing the monster's actions against his father and his brother Ernest, Victor decided to go back to Geneva.

Victor took a boat onto the lake, but was physically unable to use the oars. The rain fell torrentially and Victor cried grievously over losing Elizabeth. He arrived in Geneva and found his father overcome with grief and horror. The misery was too much for the aging man, and he soon died, lying in Victor's arms.

Victor felt overwhelmed with so much loss and sorrow. He began to think about the monster, his creation that had gone out and brought about Victor's downfall. He started to plan his revenge. Victor found a town magistrate and told him he knew who the murderer of his family was. The magistrate assured Victor he would do whatever was possible to find him. Victor told him his whole story, and the magistrate, half-believing him, expressed doubt that any human could find such a powerful creature.

Victor said he knew the magistrate wasn't going to help him, and expressed to him his tremendous fury and desire for revenge. He vowed to destroy the monster. The magistrate, believing Victor insane, tried to calm him, but that only angered Victor even more. Calling the magistrate ignorant, Victor furiously left the courthouse.

Analysis

Chapter XXIII brings the climax of the novel, Elizabeth's death. In murdering Elizabeth (and then with Alphonse's ensuing death) the monster has now demolished Victor's circle of loved ones and his biggest links to society. One by one, the monster has brought Victor more pain and loneliness, and has made him further removed from normal society that Victor is fast approaching the monster's position as a dejected loner, separate from the human race. The death of Elizabeth also marks the moment when Victor shifts from being a victim to someone crazed with grief, seeking revenge at all costs. He has nothing left to lose, and in his vengeful fury, he becomes less and less human. He has no more human links to society, and his thirst for revenge becomes his only life force. He has very nearly become a monster himself.

Gothic elements pop up in this chapter at times. The storm that thrashes outside during Elizabeth's murder gives a frightening soundtrack to a frightening situation. Also, Victor claims that the monster is always near, and he insists as much to the magistrate, who worries that Victor is crazy. Victor's sensing the monster's presence and feeling like he is always connected psychically to the monster is another element of Gothic literature.

At this point, Victor is so far removed from normal human life, so deeply wounded, and feels so wronged that there is no going back to being a simple, average man. He derives no joy or consolation from the one thing that used to be able to draw him out of his cloud of sorrow before: nature. Victor is so far gone, nature is unable to help him. His sublime natural surroundings provide him with no solace or inspiration. In this way, too, Victor is moving away from the natural world, closer to the sadly unnatural one of the monster.

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