A young scientist, Victor Frankenstein, driven by vanity and thirst for knowledge, manages to give life to a creature whom he assembled from dead material. The creature turns out very ugly, and Victor abandons him in horror. Rejected by his creator and hated by mankind in general, the Monster devotes himself to destruction and revenge.
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Below is a plot summary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley prepared by our editorial team.
❄️ The North Pole Expedition
The book opens up with the series of letters written by Robert Walton to his sister, Margaret. Letters serve as a preamble to the Frankenstein story. Walton describes his preparation for the journey towards the North Pole. Within a timeline of his voyage, he plans to discover the northern passage to the Pacific and set foot on land, not even marked on a map. Getting ready for the departure, he worries that he has no friend to share the joy of discovery with or to cry together should the expedition prove unfortunate.
Successful at first, the journey is soon interrupted by impassable sea ice. Trapped, Walton’s crew encounters a colossal figure riding a dog-sled across the ice. Soon after, they see another sleigh, this time with a normal human in it. The man is barely alive, and Walton takes him on board the ship. Once aboard, the man tells the captain his unbelievable story.
🎬 Frankenstein’s Story: the Beginning
The man Walton took aboard was Victor Frankenstein. A short summary of his narrative suggests that he grew up in a prosperous family. Considering that his parents gave him everything one could wish for, the question arises – why did Frankenstein create a monster?
Victor’s parents met when his father, Alphonse, set off to look for an old friend, Beaufort, who, due to unhappy circumstances, had lost his fortune. Beaufort’s daughter, Caroline, later became his wife and Victor’s mother. When Frankenstein was five years old, the family adopted an orphan girl, Elizabeth Lavenza.
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Since childhood, Frankenstein preferred natural science to all entertainments. As a student, he became obsessed with the idea of creating a living being from an inanimate substance. He believed that by giving life to a dead matter, he would comprehend the mystery of life and death, and penetrate the very essence of the incomprehensible. Victor wanted to rise above the whole human race, having done something hitherto impossible.
☠️ William Frankenstein Murdered
After many sleepless nights in the laboratory, Victor finally manages to animate the body which he has assembled from dead pieces. As soon as the creature opens its eyes, Victor flees in horror from the laboratory and renounces his creation.
Why did Frankenstein abandon the Monster? Firstly, because the latter turned out to be so ugly that without a shudder, one could not even look at him. Secondly, Victor became afraid of the responsibility to humanity that he had taken upon himself by creating a beast.
The Monster miraculously disappears from the laboratory, and Frankenstein naively believes that he can forget about him. Later, Victor receives a letter from his father, from which he learns that his younger brother, William, has been killed. Crushed by grief, Vitor returns to Geneva. Not far from the place where his brother died, he again meets the Monster. Victor, as well as the reader, understands who is the real murderer of William.
🙇 The Monster Asks for a Companion
The maid of the Frankenstein family, Justine Moritz, is unfairly accused of William’s murder and executed. The Monster, and, respectively, Victor himself, are responsible for two deaths already. Full of remorse and unable to cope with the pangs of conscience, Frankenstein hikes to the top of the mountain, where he meets his enemy again.
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The Monster tells Victor his story and explains why he killed William. He demands that Victor create a companion for him. The Monster wants to have at least one living soul to love. Victor hates the creature, but yet he agrees to fulfill his demands. Why? Did Frankenstein create the Monster to help humanity, or because he longed for his own glory? The same selfish motives prompted Victor to agree with the beast’s request. Frankenstein still cherishes the hope of personal happiness, although he realizes that if he creates the second Monster, this might bring the entire human race to destruction.
👰 The Wedding Night
Frankenstein starts working on creating a woman for the Monster, but a sense of guilt does not allow him to complete the project. Victor recognizes the danger which he is about to expose humanity by creating a second beast. He is not willing to jeopardize the safety of humankind to satisfy his personal needs.
In the depths of despair, he destroys his work, which casts the Monster into a rage. The beast swears revenge and threatens to appear on Victor’s wedding night. Further, Frankenstein‘s storyline seems somewhat predictable. Monster’s revenge falls upon Victor. First, the creature murders Frankenstein’s best friend, Henry Clerval, and frames Victor to be accused of this murder. Then he, as promised, shows up on Victor’s wedding night.
Frankenstein prepares to either die or destroy the daemon in a fight, but the Monster’s plan is much more insidious. Instead of killing Victor, he strangles his wife, Elizabeth.
⚰️ Victor’s Death
Everyone who was once dear to Frankenstein is dead. Victor swears on his relatives’ grave that he will destroy the Monster, who brought so much grief to everyone. He leaves Switzerland and sets off to chase the enemy. The pursuit of the beast eventually brings him to the Arctic Ocean, where captain Walton finds him.
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At this point, Victor’s story ends, and Walton’s narrative begins. How does Frankenstein die? He dies in the cabin of the ship, exhausted by the endless race and yet feeling unsatisfied that the Monster remains alive. Although, with his last words, he admits that he no longer feels “burning hatred and ardent desire of revenge [he] once expressed.”
After Victor’s death, Walton finds the Monster grieving at his creator’s remains. With Frankenstein deceased, the beast lost his only connection with the human world. He regrets his evil deeds and swears to take his own life. At this point, Shelley’s novel ends.