Mary Shelley wrote this book way back in 1818 and it became a bestseller. This is a warning tale of creation gone wrong. Remember, Frankenstein is the guy, not the monster that you see in cartoons. Shelley addressed some ideas of what happens when people try to control science and nature and push too hard. In Frankenstein’s creation, we also see how society can corrupt an innocent being.
R. Walton: The guy who Victor tells his story to.
Dr. Victor Frankenstein: The main guy who narrates most of the story. He liked science but then turns against it after creating a monster.
Elizabeth Lavenza: Frankenstein’s sister, she was an orphan until his parent’s adopted her.
Henry Clerval: Childhood friend of Victor’s.
The Creature: This is the monster Dr Frankenstein creates. Everyone always calls the monster Frankenstein in the cartoons, although the creature is not called Frankenstein in this book.
Robert goes on a journey to the North Pole. When his boat is stuck in the ice, he and his crew pick up Victor. Victor and Robert become friendly and Victor tells his story. Victor made a creature. The creature wants to make friends but people are grossed out by him. The creature gets pissed at Victor because Victor made him and his life sucks. The creature kills a bunch of people close to Victor to get revenge when Victor won’t build a female monster for the creature. Victor starts to hunt the creature down and winds up on Robert’s boat. Victor dies and the creature is sort-of bummed, meets Robert, and says he will never be seen again and goes into the ocean.
CHAPTER BY CHAPTER
LETTERS 1 – 4
- The book starts with some letters Robert writes.
- R. Walton writes to his sister, Mrs. Saville, to say he got to Russia and is heading for the North Pole.
- Robert has been sailing all around, writing poetry, whale-hunting, etc.
- Robert gets a boat and a crew and heads north.
- Time passes really slowly.
- Robert wants a friend to hang out with, someone who understands him.
- He thinks about human nature and the direction in his life. He thinks about what you can control and what you can’t.
- When the ship is surrounded by ice, they see some guy with a dog sled. The crew is surprised since they thought they weren’t near land.
- The next morning, the crew rescues another guy from the water. He talks to Robert in English but with an accent. He wants to know where the ship is going. This is odd to Robert since, hello, the guy’s in the middle of nowhere.
- The guy is in rough shape, frozen and thin.
- The guy says he was looking for someone who ran away from him. Robert says they saw that guy with a sled the day before.
- The guy gets better in a couple of days. He Robert begin to be friends. Robert is fascinated with him but the guy is really preoccupied.
- The guy says that he has had a lot of bad stuff in his past and that he knows Robert’s looking for wisdom. He hopes Robert doesn’t learn the hard way about how painful knowledge can be. He begins to tell his story.
- The guy comes from a really wealthy family in Geneva, Switzerland.
- His mom and dad were a bunch of years apart age-wise. His mom was the daughter of his dad’s friend, Beaufort.
- His parents loved each other and loved him.
- When his dad was away, he and his mom went to visit poor people and his mom ended up adopting a little girl whose dad had been a nobleman.
- They present Elizabeth, the little girl, to the guy (whose name turns out to be Victor) as a gift.
- Victor and Elizabeth are raised together and they are very close – he is more serious and into learning and she is very calm and into looking around at nature.
- Victor wants to learn the secrets of nature.
- Victor’s mom and dad have another baby, a boy.
- Basically, Victor is a loner, but he makes a friend, Henry Clerval, who is really into adventure and being a hero.
- Victor’s childhood is happy.
- Henry is into morals, what is right and what is wrong.
- As an adult looking back, Victor feels really glad about his childhood. However, he remembers the stuff that led up to the bad crap in his life.
- He says that "natural philosophy" (an old term for physical science) is what has controlled him his whole life.
- On a family trip he finds out about a guy named Cornelius Agrippa (a secretive magician who lived from 1486 – 1535). His dad blows off Victor’s interest in the guy instead explaining that the guy had little to do with science. So Victor gets all into looking up the old books and stuff the guy had written and gets into magic and creating and controlling nature.
- Victor becomes fascinated by the idea of getting rid of all disease and making it so men can live forever.
- When he is fifteen, Victor sees a huge thunderstorm. He sees a tree get destroyed by a bolt of lightening. Some family friend is there and explains electricity to Victor. This makes Victor question all the stuff he was into before and focus more on math and things that are real.
- Victor feels he is destined for destruction.
- At 17, Victor is about to go to college at Ingolstadt , but Elizabeth gets sick and their mom gets sick taking care of her. Elizabeth survives, but her mom doesn’t. She says she hopes that they meet in another world.
- Victor gets ready to leave and Elizabeth copes.
- Clerval, Victor’s friend comes to say goodbye. His dad wouldn’t let him go to college.
- At school, Victor’s bad fate leads him to M. Krempe, a science teacher, who tells him all the stuff he learned in the past is crap. He gives him the names of some books he should read.
- When he hears M. Waldman, another teacher, give a lecture about power and control over nature, Victor is convinced that’s his fate.
- He goes to see M. Waldman who thinks the magician old science guys are cool, too.
- M. Waldman takes Victor on as a follower.
- Victor says this day was what decided his future.
- Victor reads. He thinks M. Krempe has good sense. M. Waldman becomes a friend.
- Two years go by.
- He wonders about human life and what makes it happen.
- To study life he has to study death.
- Victor learns some secret to life.
- He wants to create a new species. He would be like their father and they would owe him thanks. He also thinks he might be able to bring beings back from the dead.
- He gets very into his studies and collects bones and eyeballs (Gross!).
- He doesn’t have contact with his family and friends because he’s so obsessed with his creation.
- Victor realizes, looking back, that studies or anything that makes you totally obsessed to the point of not being able to do anything else or have friends can’t be good.
- Victor’s dad writes to him and doesn’t make him feel bad for being out of touch.
- Victor becomes all nervous and worried and weird with his project.
- One night in November, at 1am, Victor sees his creation come to life. The being he created opens his yellow eyes and freaks the hell out of Victor.
- At first, Victor is psyched that his idea worked. Then, he’s grossed out and thinks he created this monster, so he runs away.
- That night, he can’t sleep. He has bad dreams. Then his creation comes in and holds his hand out to him. Victor runs outside.
- In the morning, Victor walks outside and sees his old friend, Henry Clerval.
- Clerval stays and takes care of Victor, who is so freaked out that he gets sick and has a fever for months.
- When Victor gets better, Henry tells him that he needs to write to his sister and dad. Henry’s been writing to them but now they want proof Victor is better.
- Victor reads a letter from Elizabeth. She says that things are fine at home but that they want him back home. She writes that his brothers are fine and that Justine Moritz, the daughter of an old family friend who used to live with them, has just come back to live at their house. Justine is smart and nice and pretty.
- William, Victor’s younger brother, has turned into a really cute little kid.
- Elizabeth tells Victor to get his ass in gear and write a letter.
- Victor introduces Clerval to his professors. M. Krempe is obnoxious about Victor’s dislike of science.
- Clerval, who has never once asked Victor what his big secret is, decides to study Oriental languages at the university, and Victor is convinced to do the same. At the end of the summer Victor is supposed to go home for a visit, but it is May by the time the weather is good enough to go.
- Clerval asks Victor to go on a vacation. During the two-week vacation in the countryside, Victor gets back into nature again, and is glad he has such a good friend to show him how happy he can be.
- Clerval is all excited that Victor is so happy.
- When he gets back from vacation Victor reads a letter from his father.
- His dad has horrible news, Victor’s brother William has been murdered.
- Victor’s dad tells him to come home.
- Victor says goodbye to Clerval and heads back home. On his way, he stops, looks at nature, and feels crappy.
- When he gets home, it’s night and he sees some huge person hiding behind some trees. He thinks it’s the creature and decides the creature is the murderer. Victor feels awful thinking he created such a monster. In the house his family tells him that Justine has been charged with the murder.
- Victor tells them that it’s not Justine, but that he knows who the killer is. The family says if this is true then at Justine’s trial they’ll have to make sure she’s not convicted.
- The trial starts and Justine is all calm and dressed in black.
- Justine tells her story about the events of that night. Elizabeth speaks on her behalf and Victor feels terrible about it all.
- Justine is found guilty.
- It turns out that she confessed to the murder.
- All along, Victor thought for sure the creature was responsible.
- When Victor and Elizabeth go to see Justine, she says her confession was a lie.
- Elizabeth is so upset that she says she’d die with Justine and tells her how bad Victor feels.
- Justine dies.
- Victor feels bad that he’s alive and Justine isn’t.
- Victor’s dad is upset that his son is doing so poorly. He tells Victor that he is in pain, too.
- Victor thinks about the creature and beings to hate him more.
- Victor’s dad gets sick because he’s so bummed.
- Elizabeth talks about how everyone thought Justine was guilty and how, if it were true, that Justine would be the lowest of all creatures, to kill the son of the family that had taken her in. She worries about the murderer still being out there.
- Victor feels that he is the real murderer since he made the creature.
- Sometimes Victor can deal with his suffering and sometimes it takes over.
- He goes on a trip to the Alpine valleys. He climbs the mountains towards Chamounix. With all the mountains and nature stuff around him, he feels more at peace.
- The next day, he feels decent as he is surrounded by ice and mountains.
- The day after that, he feels like crap again.
- It’s raining and grey, but he decides to go climb some mountain on an his mule to see some glacier he remembers as giving him an awesome feeling. The climb is dangerous, but Victor makes it up.
- He sees the sea and the views and talks to himself about it.
- Then he sees the creature and is mad and yells at him, calling him the devil and to get lost.
- The creature talks back and says how everyone hates him but that Victor created him. The creature says that he will kill all of Victor’s friends if he doesn’t do what the creature says.
- Victor tries to run at the creature but that doesn’t work.
- The creature says Victor made him really strong but that he won’t harm Victor since he still belongs to Victor and will be gentle with his master. He says that Victor owes him some affection. He sees happiness everywhere but has none. He asks to be made happy and to have a friend.
- Victor says no.
- The creature asks how he can win Victor over. He says the Victor accuses him of murder and that he won’t even hear his story.
- The creature says his story will explain stuff so Victor follows him across the ice to hear it.
CHAPTERS 3 – 4
- The creature tells his story about feeling stuff like thirst and hunger and light.
- He experiences pain from being burned by the embers of some fire.
- He spends all his time alone in the forest but runs short of food.
- He sees a hut in the distance. When he goes in, the man who is in there runs out and screams. This is surprising to the creature.
- He eats the shepherd’s food and hangs out.
- He travels around but everyone screams when they see him and run away. People throw things at him and he is bruised.
- The creature finds some cottage and hides out there.
- He sees a young girl who looks sad. He hears her play music and is taken by how sweet it is and later listens as the girl’s dad reads out loud.
- He longs to join the people and be welcomed into society.
- The next day he sees how the people in that family keep crying. Since he doesn’t know what tears are, he doesn’t understand pain or anything like that, so he wonders what is up.
- Soon he realizes that the family is really poor.
- The creature had been taking some food from them in the night but he stops and eats berries and stuff when he realizes that the people have nothing.
- He collects wood for their fire and this makes the people happy.
- He realizes that the people talk to communicate how they feel and wants to learn how to do this. He spends the winter learning to talk by listening to what the people say and then figures out that reading is also about words and does that, too.
- In the spring, it’s more of the same. The creature wishes he could make the people happy.
- He tries to learn the language.
- One day, the creature notices how bummed out Felix, the son of the family, looks, and then how excited he is when some random lady rides up to the cottage. The creature figures out that the lady doesn’t speak English.
- Agatha, the young girl, is happy to see the lady, too.
- The lady, Safie, who is Arabian, tries to learn English.
- Safie is always happy.
- The creature never lets himself be seen because he doesn’t want to have people react the way they did before.
- The creature learns history from listening to Felix read from a history book.
- He doesn’t understand the part of history when men kill each other.
- He thinks about knowing stuff and how that can be painful.
- He wonders who he is.
- The creature learns that the man’s name is De Lacey. He and his kids, Felix and Agatha, had been well-off. They had lived in Paris.
- Safie’s father ruined them – he had been sentenced to death in some Turkish prison for being rude to the government and Felix had accidentally been at the trial and vowed to help get him out.
- Safie’s dad was all psyched and offered Felix money but Felix said he didn’t want anything…. Until he saw Safie. Safie’s dad said he’d get Safie to marry Felix if Felix helped him but Felix was too shy to say yes.
- While he’s trying to plan her dad’s escape, Felix gets some letter from Safie saying thanks and telling Felix about her background. She wrote that she didn’t want to go back to Asia but wanted to marry a Christian boy so she could have a place in society.
- The night before he was supposed to be executed, Sufie’s dad escaped.
- Felix had arranged for passports for everyone and got them to France.
- Safie’s dad encouraged her to spend time with Felix even though he has other plans.
- The Paris government was pissed that Safie’s dad escaped and Agatha and De lacey in jail in the hopes that that would bring Felix forward.
- The whole thing doesn’t work, the trial went on for months, and the family wound up at the cottage in Germany with no money.
- Safie left and took some money and went to find her lover, Felix.
- The creature tells Victor how much this history had an effect on him and continues on with his story.
- One night, the creature found some books and clothes.
- He read the books and they made him think about a lot of stuff. He wondered about where he was going and who he was.
- He also found Victor’s journal from when he created him in the pocket of a piece of clothing he took from the lab.
- He read it and felt really bad when he found that even Victor, the guy who made him, was all grossed out by him.
- The creature saw the family in the cottage relax a little and that made him feel better but then when he’d see his reflection in a pond or something, he’d be down again.
- One day, the creature went to talk to De Lacey while the others are out for a walk.
- He visited with the old guy, who wasn’t freaked out by the creature because De Lacey was blind.
- The creature told him how he had no friends and the old guy said that the creature should count on hope. The creature finally cried and said the friends he wanted were the old dude ad his family. Just then, the door opened and the others came back. They freak out.
- The creature asks why he was even created and why he didn’t kill himself after that family freaked out.
- He tells Victor how, a few days later, he took a walk and over heard Felix trying to sell the cottage because he feared for his dad’s life and for the women, who would never get over being so weirded out.
- The creature left at that point and wandered around at night so no one would see him.
- When the creature saw a girl fall into a stream, he saved her, only to be shot by some guy who took the girl.
- When the creature got over being shot, he moved again. He was near Geneva (yes, Switzerland, go look at a map).
- When he saw a young boy he thought that the boy was so pure he wouldn’t have any bad thoughts but the boy was freaked out when he sees the creature. The creature found out that the boy’s dad was Frankenstein, Victor’s dad. The boy yelled at the creature saying he was ugly and to get him to be quiet, the creature held the boy’s throat. The boy was killed.
- The creature was glad because now he was not alone in feeling bad. He created badness, too, just like his maker.
- The creature left the boy and went to some cottage and saw Justine. He placed on her the gold pin he had taken from the boy and knew he would cause trouble.
- The creature finished telling his story to Victor and says that he won’t leave him alone until Victor creates a friend for him and that they have to be the same species.
- The creature demands that Victor create a female monster thing so he can have a friend.
- This pisses Victor off – he says that no matter how crappy the creature makes Victor’s life, that he won’t make another bad monster.
- The creature explains that he’s only mean because he’s lonely and no one likes him. He begs Victor to make someone who could like him so he would know what it’s like to have someone who understand him.
- This makes sense to Victor and the creature sees this change so he goes further to say that he will go far away with this new lady monster and never bother anyone.
- Victor talks again about how the creature has already been so evil, and asks how will he not be that bad again.
- Finally, Victor agrees to the creature’s request but says that the two creatures will have to take off forever.
- The creature says he’ll watch over Victor and appear when the project is done and leaves.
- Left alone in nature, Victor feels weighed down and worried about what he’s agreed to and how he will deal with his family.
- Back in Geneva, Victor slacks off on his monster-making project. He just can’t bring himself to do it.
- His dad talks to him about how he always wanted him to marry Elizabeth (remember, she’s not his sister by blood). Victor says that marrying Elizabeth will make everyone happy.
- But Victor has the creature thing getting him down, so he says he has to go to London before he can get married. Elizabeth is okay with this, but his dad is old so he wants them to get married soon.
- Victor does need to go to London to get all the bones and stuff to make the lady monster, but he is a big-time procrastinator with the whole thing.
- In September, Victor leaves. In Strasbourg (come on, get the map out), Clerval joins him. As they travel, Victor feels better than he has in a long time.
- Victor feels close to Clerval and remembers this fondly.
- They decide to stay in London for a while.
- Clerval wants to hang with the locals but Victor just wants to get his info and do what he promised to the creature.
- Victor sees Clerval as the way he used to be before the whole monster thing.
- Clerval has an interest in going to India to get into the whole English taking over India deal.
- The get a letter from some guy who they knew in Geneva who is now in Scotland. Clerval wants to go for the social aspects of it and Victor just wants to look at nature.
- On the way to Scotland, they stop off at some towns to look around.
- Victor starts to feel bad that he’s been so slow in keeping his promise.
- Victor tells Clerval that they should travel around Scotland on their own. Clerval doesn’t want to, but they separate.
- Victor is sure that the monster has followed them and will show up when Victor is done.
- Victor sets himself up in the middle-of-nowhere and starts working. He has a lot of trouble stacking to his work plan. Sometimes, he just can’t motivate because of the crappiness he feels about what he’s doing.
- Victor looks forward to finishing even though it makes hi sick to think that he’s making another creature.
- One night, in his lab, Victor thinks about his life and what he’s doing.
- He wonders what would happen if the new creature and the old creature don’t like each other and if they would still go away.
- He wonders what right he has to make creatures that could then make a whole race of bad things.
- And the creature appears in the moonlight – creepy!
- Victor thinks the creature looks scary and evil and crazy.
- Victor locks the door and says to himself that he won’t work anymore and ruins what he had started.
- The creature comes in to Victor’s apartment and asks why Victor tore up his work and if he is going to go through with his promise.
- Victor says he can’t go through with it.
- The creature is pissed. He says that even though Victor created him, that the creature is the one who calls the shots and that Victor has to listen to him.
- The creature yells about being alone and not having a wife and getting revenge.
- Victor tells him to leave.
- The creature says that he will be with Victor on his wedding night.
- Victor says that the creature better make sure he is safe himself.
- Victor worries about who the monster will get next.
- Victor gets a letter from Clerval asking him to join him.
- Before he leaves, Victor has to gather the gross stuff from his lab – he puts all the stuff in a basket with some rocks to sink them into the ocean.
- Victor almost gets lost when he’s sinking the stuff, but he finds land.
- In the harbor, the people stare at Victor – they are Irish and tell him that the Irish hate criminals. Victor doesn’t know what they are talking about.
- They tell him he has to go to Mr. Kirwin’s house and see what the lawyer has to say.
- The lawyer looks at Victor in a harsh way and asks the people who witnessed the crime. Some guys say they did – they were out fishing the night before and went on land where they found some dead guy who had only recently been strangled. They said the guy was young and handsome and only had black marks on his neck.
- This makes Victor scared.
- Then someone says they saw a guy alone in a boat right afterward, which was Victor.
- They ask Victor go into a room for questioning and show him the corpse, which is Clerval. Victor is really upset.
- Victor gets sick and almost dies. He feels like he killed William, Justine, and Clerval.
- Victor wakes up from two months of being sick and is in a jail.
- The nurse near him asks if he is better and Victor says yes but that he feels bad. The nurse says he should since he’s a murderer.
- Mr. Kirwin has been nice to Victor – he gave him the best room in the prison and brought in the nurse.
- He says that Victor’s dad has come for a visit.
- The trial is held across town – it turns out that Victor is on the Orkney Islands (time for that map, again).
- Victor is freed.
- He thinks he should go to Geneva.
- They get on a boat to start the trip home. Victor is tormented by thoughts of the creature.
- They and in Paris.
- While he’s resting, Victor’s dad understands Victor’s need to be away from people.
- Victor says how he killed everyone. His dad, having heard him say that a lot, asks why.
- Elizabeth writes a letter that says she is looking forward to seeing Victor but that she wonders why he’s so distant and thinks maybe he likes another girl. She says she just wants him to be happy and that he doesn’t have to marry her.
- This makes Victor think about the monster saying that he’d be with them on their wedding night.
- Victor writes to her that they will get married but that he has some bad stuff to tell her afterwards.
- The wedding plans are made. Victor pretends to be calm and happy but he’s a wreck.
- He starts carrying around knives and guns and stuff to protect himself from the monster.
- After the ceremony, they travel by boat.
- In nature, Victor feels scared and knows he’s stuck with all the crap forever.
- They get to land and walk around and suddenly there’s a storm.
- Victor gets freaked out.
- Elizabeth asks what’s wrong.
- He says that after tonight, everything will be okay but that this night will suck.
- An hour later, Victor hears a scream and finds Elizabeth dead with the marks on her neck.
- The creature appears in the doorway looking scary and points to the body and grins and Victor tries to shoot him but the monster gets away and goes into the water.
- Victor tries to get back home as fast as he can. His dad and Ernest are alive but really upset by what happened to Elizabeth and Victor’s dad ends up dying in his arms.
- Finally, victor goes to a judge in town and tells him about the monster and the judge listens but says that the creature has too much power.
- Victor is mad that the guy won’t help him get the creature.
- Victor leaves Geneva and travels around.
- He feels like crap.
- He says how the monster should suffer.
- The monster hears this and laughs and gets away from Victor, who tries to get him.
- He follows the monster but the thing is really fast and can swim and run and stuff.
- Victor heads towards Russia still following the creature.
- He sees the giant tracks on the snow and follows him.
- Victor finds notes from the monster on trees and in the snow saying stuff like Victor can follow him but that the monster can deal with cold and ice and that Victor will suffer.
- The monster leaves a note saying how much he hates Victor and that he will really have to face to bad crap up in the north.
- Victor doesn’t care.
- He follows him with a sled and dogs and is close to getting him.
- Victor tells Robert Walton, you know, the guy on the ship, that he has to catch the creature and if Victor’s dead, then Walton should stab him.
- That the end of Victor’s story.
- Walton writes to his sister and says how he doesn’t want to loose the friendship he has with Victor and how Victor says his only goal in life is to kill what he created.
- Walton writes to Elizabeth and says that he is in danger and doesn’t know if he’ll make it home again. They are stuck in ice.
- The next letter says they are still stuck in ice. Victor is sick. The crew tells Robert that if they ever get free of the ice, he has to let them go back south.
- Robert doesn’t want to agree. Victor tells the crew to stick by their captain.
- Victor says that they are the people who can save humans
- Robert says they can go back south if they get out.
- Robert writes that they are going back to England.
- Victor says he needs to keep going but ends up dying.
- As Robert writes, he hears a voice in Victor’s room. The creature stands near the coffin and is fells bad that Victor’s dead.
- Robert tells the creature that if he hadn’t been so bad, Victor would still be alive.
- The creature says that Victor didn’t suffer like he did.
- No matter what, the creature couldn’t find any sympathy.
- The creature tells Robert that he’s the last person who will see him. The creature goes into the sea.
THINGS TO MAKE YOU LOOK SMART