Frankenstein: Summary & Analysis (by Chapters)

Summary & Analysis

Welcome to Frankenstein Summary & Analysis page prepared by our editorial team! Here you’ll find detailed chapter summaries of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, as well as analysis of every novel’s part.

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✍️ Preface & Letters 1-4

Preface Summary

The preface to Frankenstein outlines the circumstances under which the novel was written. The reader learns that Frankenstein owes its birth to a simple children’s game in which Shelley and her friends challenged each other to write a ghost story. What once started as an amusement, later became one of the most remarkable works of English literature.

Active Themes

Theme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
ScienceNature

Preface Analysis

The atmosphere of the rainy Swiss Alps where Shelley has begun her work on Frankenstein set the dark and ghostly tone to the novel. During cold evenings of summer 1816, Shelley and her friends sat around the fire and amused themselves with German ghost stories. These folk tales, along with the majestic Switzerland scenery, inspired the author and defined the genre of Frankenstein.

Although all the events of the novel are figments of Shelly’s imagination, the author did not aim to write an entertaining horror story. Creating something “impossible as a physical fact,” she aimed to uncover the essence of the very human nature with all its passions and desires. In an attempt to reveal “excellence of universal virtue” through fiction, Shelly wished to be aligned with geniuses like Homer, Shakespeare, and Milton.

Letter 1 Summary

The novel begins with a series of letters written by Robert Walton to his sister, Margarette Saville. From the first letter, the reader learns that Robert is about to embark on a voyage to the North Pole. He writes about his dream to discover a northern passage to the Pacific and shares his excitement about the trip.

Active Characters

Robert Walton.

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Active Themes

Theme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
ScienceNature

Letter 1 Analysis

Robert Walton is presented as a brave and ambitious character, driven by a thirst for fame and discovery. He desires to set his foot on land previously unknown. The Northern Pole appears in his imagination “as the region of beauty and delight.” He hopes to embrace something inconceivable and believes that the territory of eternal ice will be a perfect place for it. Motivated mainly by the desire to make his mark on the world’s history, Walton also reveals himself as a romantic person. He recalls his childhood spent among adventure books and dreams of becoming an explorer. These memories excite and encourage him.

Although Robert Walton is not the main character of the novel, his presence is essential, as he resembles Victor Frankenstein. Ambitions, wanderlust, and hunger for knowledge are among those qualities that they both possess. These exact qualities eventually brought Frankenstein to his end.

Letter 2 Summary

In the second letter written to Margaret, Walton informs her that he has hired a vessel and is ready for departure. Still considering his journey “fixed as fate,” he expresses doubts about its successful outcome. He is concerned about the lack of his own experience as a sailor and, most importantly, the absence of a true friend.

Active Characters

Robert Walton.

Active Themes

Theme of love in FrankensteinTheme of fate in Frankenstein
LoveFate

Letter 2 Analysis

The most prominent theme of the second letter is the theme of loneliness. Walton regrets having no one to share his accomplishments and failures with. He talks about not having a friend as “a most severe evil.” The motive of loneliness and isolation, introduced here for the first time, becomes the keynote of the novel. It draws parallels between Walton, Frankenstein and the Monster, as they all at some point sought companionship.

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Despite Walton’s determination and commitment to the idea, he again appears to the reader as a romantic soul. He admits that growing up among books and under his sister’s soft care made him quite unsuitable for the rough sailor’s life. He writes, “I cannot overcome an intense distaste to the usual brutality exercised on board ship.” The vocabulary Walton uses in his letter – (“belief in the marvelous”, “integrity and dauntless courage,” “dangerous mysteries of the ocean”) – is typical for the Romantic hero.

Robert Walton is presented as a brave and ambitious character, driven by a thirst for fame and discovery. He desires to set his foot on land previously unknown. The Northern Pole appears in his imagination “as the region of beauty and delight.” He hopes to embrace something inconceivable and believes that the territory of eternal ice will be a perfect place for it. Motivated mainly by the desire to make his mark on the world’s history, Walton also reveals himself as a romantic person. He recalls his childhood spent among adventure books and dreams of becoming an explorer. These memories excite and encourage him.

Although Robert Walton is not the main character of the novel, his presence is essential, as he resembles Victor Frankenstein. Ambitions, wanderlust, and hunger for knowledge are among those qualities that they both possess. These exact qualities eventually brought Frankenstein to his end.

Letter 3 Summary

The third letter, sent on July 7th, is the shortest of all. Walton informs his sister that his vessel has finally begun its journey. He is proud and enthusiastic. Nothing seems to ruin his faith in the man’s will, and he is confident of the victorious resolution of his voyage.

Active Characters

Robert Walton.

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Active Themes

Theme of nature in Frankenstein
Nature

Letter 3 Analysis

Walton openly states that nothing can stop a determined man from achieving his goals. He admits that he is in a “good spirit” and even “the floating sheets of ice…indicating the danger of the region” cannot scare him off. He refers to his men as “bold” and “firm of purpose.”

Walton’s confidence is so overwhelming that he even attributes his success to divine assistance, “the very stars themselves being witnesses and testimonies of my triumph.” With this in mind, he has no doubts that his journey will result in glory.

Letter 4 Summary

From the fourth letter, the reader learns that Walton’s ship was trapped in ice. At night the crew noticed a huge creature riding a dogsled towards the north. The next morning they spotted another carriage floating among ice floes. A man of European appearance, barely alive, sat in it. This man was Victor Frankenstein.

Active Characters

Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of family in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
FamilyNatureFate

Letter 4 Analysis

The stranger agreed to come on board only after he made sure that the vessel headed north. This immediately captured Walton’s attention. His curiosity grew even bigger when the new passenger told him that he was chasing the creature his men saw earlier. From first sight, Walton felt attracted to Frankenstein. He wrote about him, “I never saw a more interesting creature.” He also mentioned that even in his “wretched” condition with his eyes having “an expression of wildness and even madness,” Victor remained very “attractive and amiable.”

As time passed and Frankenstein improved in health, Walton grew to love him as his brother. He pitied him and admired him at the same time. The reason for such attraction was that Walton saw Victor as “his own kind.” Looking at Frankenstein, he saw himself. He was captivated by Frankenstein’s “intuitive discernment, a quick but never-failing power of judgment,” and thirst for knowledge. What he did not know was that these very virtues destroyed his new friend’s life.

Victor reciprocated Walton’s feelings. He recognized in Walton the same passion for the unknown that ruined his life. After Walton confessed that he was willing to give his life “for the acquirement of the knowledge,” Frankenstein replied, “Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught?” Victor did not want Walton to suffer the same fate he did, which is why he decided to share his story.

👶 Chapters 1-4

Chapter 1 Summary

In the first chapter, Frankenstein tells Walton about his family and childhood. Victor’s father, Alphonse, met his future wife, Caroline, through his friend and Caroline’s father, Beaufort. After Beaufort’s death, Alphonse took care of Caroline and later married her. When Victor was five years old, his parents adopted an orphan girl, who later became his dearest friend and wife.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Alphonse Frankenstein, Caroline Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza.

Active Themes

Theme of family in FrankensteinTheme of love in Frankenstein
FamilyLove

Chapter 1 Analysis

Frankenstein’s Analysis would make no sense without mentioning the motive of family connections and care. Victor’s parents loved and respected each other. For the first five years, Victor was their only child, and they gave him all the attention and care that parents can be capable of. One of the quotes supporting this statement is, “They seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me.”

Frankenstein describes his early years in great detail. This description is vital in light of what happened to him later. His childhood memories are innocent. They are full of love and compassion, which makes a vivid contrast with his dark and macabre recollections of the following years.

With great tenderness, Victor talks about his adopted sister, Elizabeth Lavenza. He describes her as “the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and … pleasures”. Through Frankenstein’s attitude towards Elizabeth, the author underlines the importance of traditional family structure. In this family, the woman plays the role of a caring mother and a passive companion to her husband. A man in such a family is a protector and a decision-maker. His woman belongs to him. As Victor recalls, from the moment Elizabeth appeared in his life, he knew, “till death, she was to be mine only.”

Chapter 2 Summary

Soon after Victor’s younger brother is born, the family settles in Geneva. There Frankenstein meets his best friend, Clerval. As a teenager, Victor discovers books written by alchemists and becomes fascinated with their ideas of turning dead material into life. A sudden incident, lightning ruining a tree, makes Victor abandon his interest in science for some time.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, Henry Clerval.

Active Themes

Theme of family in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
FamilyLoveScienceNature

Chapter 2 Analysis

The relationships between Victor, Clerval, and Elizabeth, as one can find in any Frankenstein analysis, seem ideal, but the three differ in their dispositions. Clerval and Elizabeth are interested in human interactions, theater, and books, while Victor is obsessed with science and natural philosophy. He prefers solitude and, already as a teenager, dreams to understand the secrets of life.

At the age of 13, he stumbles upon a book written by Cornelius Agrippa and becomes an enthusiastic follower of his ideas. Victor spends all his time studying, searching for the philosopher’s stone, and inventing the elixir of life. What he fails to admit is that works of Agrippa and other alchemists have long been proven false.

Telling his story to Walton, Victor calls his fascination with natural philosophy a “genius that has regulated [his] fate.” He speaks of it with great regret because, at the moment of his narrative, he has already experienced the terrible consequences of his obsession.

At the age of 15, Victor witnesses the oak being crushed into pieces by lightning. This incident, proving the power of electricity over magic, makes him lose his interest in alchemy. The ruined tree has a symbolic meaning in Frankenstein’s narrative because he interprets it as a sign sent by his “guardian angel” to quit natural philosophy and avoid the tragic consequences.

Chapter 3 Summary

Victor turns seventeen and prepares to become a student at the University in Ingolstadt. The sudden death of his mother delays his departure. Despite the loss, he leaves for Germany, where he meets his new mentors. Professor M. Krempe makes an unpleasant impression on Victor, but professor Waldman becomes his friend and encourages him to return to science.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, M. Kempe.

Active Themes

Theme of family in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of science in Frankenstein
FamilyLonelinessScience

Chapter 3 Analysis

From the first lines, the narrative acquires a dark and gloomy tone. If, in the first two chapters, the reader senses only a hint of the looming threat, the third one begins with death.

Caroline’s passing foreshadows future tragedies and marks the beginning of Frankenstein’s downfall. Foreshadowing is one of the literary devices used by Shelley to accentuate the atmosphere of upcoming decay. For example, Victor refers to his loss as to “omen …of … future misery.”

Before dying, Caroline wishes for Victor to marry Elizabeth. (It is worth mentioning that in the 1818 edition of Frankenstein Elizabeth is Victor’s cuisine, not an adopted sister).

When Victor arrives in Ingolstadt, his obsessive pursuit of knowledge replaces his friends and family in his heart. Having cut himself from human interactions, he spends days and nights studying chemistry and mathematics.

Frankenstein is astounded by Wadman’s speech, in which the professor pictures modern scientists as Gods. He says, “they penetrate … the recesses of nature … command the thunders…and … have acquired … unlimited powers.” “Power” is probably the most descriptive word for the summary and analysis of this chapter. Power is what seduces Victor. He not only wishes to make discoveries but to take his knowledge to the level from which he can control nature itself.

Chapter 4 Summary

Continuing hard work, Victor achieved great success. His achievements impressed both his professors and his student fellows. Most of all, he was interested in understanding the transition from life to death and vice versa. He set a goal to create a living matter from an insentient substance and achieved it after all.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in Frankenstein
ScienceNatureLoneliness

Chapter 4 Analysis

The task Viktor set for himself – to create the living from the dead – was very bold. To make such a discovery would mean to comprehend all the secrets of nature, to become God. With great impatience, Frankenstein anticipated how “…new species would bless [him] as its creator and source.”

In Frankenstein chapter 4, Victor finally solves the puzzle. The light that illuminates him at the moment when he reveals the mystery has a symbolic meaning. In its essence, light represents virtue, desire for enlightenment, and deliverance from darkness. However, a candle that can lighten the path can also turn into a fire that absorbs all living things. The line between the light that gives hope and the light that kills is a very thin one.

Frankenstein locked himself in his laboratory and fenced himself off the outside world. In his hands, he held the key to the secret of all times, and he did not intend to share it. His obsession became the meaning of his existence. Something inside him suggested that in his pursuits and aspirations, there was something unnatural and terrifying. He recalled that he “shunned [his] fellow creatures as if [he] had been guilty of a crime.”

👹 Chapters 5-8

Chapter 5 Summary

On a rainy November night, Victor Frankenstein manages to infuse life into a dead body of his creation. The moment the creature opens his eyes, Victor’s dreams turn into a nightmare. He realizes that he has created a monster. The beast tries to speak to him, but Victor abandons him in horror.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Henry Clerval.

Active Themes

Theme of family in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of fate in Frankenstein
FamilyLoveFate

Chapter 5 Analysis

The Frankenstein chapter 5 summary suggests that Victor becomes horrified by the menacing appearance of his creation. Still, in reality, Frankenstein is more disgusted by the realization of his own monstrous intentions. He wanted to become God! He dared to believe that he deserved to give or take life.

Significantly, the Monster was born in November, the last month of the fall, when nature dies, and all living things go into oblivion. The language Shelley uses to describe the weather (“dismal and wet morning,” “rain pattered dismally,” “dim light of the moon”) helps to accentuate the misery of Frankenstein’s condition.

Wherever Victor goes, the Monster follows him in his thoughts. In his dream, Victor sees Elizabeth transforming into his dead mother when he tries to kiss her. The dream represents Victor’s subconscious attempt to supplant women. Only women are capable of giving birth, and Victor challenged the natural mode of human reproduction. He became a mother to the Monster, but he disgustedly abandoned his child, as no mother would do.

Unable to cope with his mind, Victor falls ill. Only the vigilant care of his friend, Henry Clerval, helps to bring him back to life. Clerval’s selfless devotion to Victor goes in vivid contrast with Frankenstein’s unfair treatment of the Monster.

Chapter 6 Summary

Victor’s recovery marks Frankenstein‘s chapter 6. He receives a letter from Elizabeth, in which she describes life at home and expresses concerns about Victor’s health. When Frankenstein feels well enough to leave his chamber, he takes Henry Clerval to the university and introduces him to professors.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, Elizabeth Lavenza, Justine Moritz.

Active Themes

Theme of family in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
FamilyLoveScienceNature

Chapter 6 Analysis

Elizabeth’s letter, full of sincere worry about Victor’s well-being, shows how much he cut himself off from his family. It also brings the reader’s attention to Frankenstein’s selfishness. Telling Walton about his years in Germany, Victor never mentioned his relatives. He was so self-involved and absorbed with the project that he did not even think about them. Only when Victor quotes Elizabeth’s letter, the reader learns about his two brothers and the girl, named Justine Moritz, who lived with Frankensteins most of her life.

Frankenstein tries to forget everything related to the Monster, thereby refusing to hold himself accountable for the soul he created. He avoids questions about science and tries to captivate himself with philosophy and poetry. However, a conversation with the once adored professor Waldman creates almost physical rejection as it invokes torturous memories about the Monster.

Gradually, with Clerval’s help, Victor regained health. He again was able to see the beauty of the world. He writes, “I became capable of observing outward objects with…pleasure, I perceived that…the young buds were shooting forth from the trees.” Victor’s recovery coincided with the onset of spring. Earlier, the Monster’s birth coincided with the end of autumn. Autumn symbolizes decay, while spring represents rebirth.

Chapter 7 Summary

Victor receives a letter from his father, Alphonse, from which he learns that his little brother, William Frankenstein, was murdered. Devastated and heartbroken, Victor arranges the trip back home. Near the place where the boy died, Victor notices the figure of the Monster and concludes that the creature has killed his brother.

Active Characters

Alphonse Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, William Frankenstein, Justine Moritz.

Active Themes

Theme of revenge in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
RevengeFamilyNature

Chapter 7 Analysis

On his way to Geneva, Victor wallows in melancholy. At first, he hurries because he longs to soothe the pain of his loved ones, but the closer Victor approaches home grounds, the more he wishes to postpone the visit. He is overwhelmed with frightening presentiments of future tragedies.

Seized with grief and irrational fear, Victor prolongs his journey and stops in Lausanne. He notices that the lake, the mountains, and the sky of his homeland remain just as beautiful and calm as he remembers them. This time, though, he perceives nature’s beauty as a mockery of his misfortunes. He notes, “Is this to prognosticate peace, or to mock at my unhappiness?”

The night he approached the gates of Geneva, severe thunderstorm, the foreboding of future horrors, broke out. Thunderstorms and lightning are the unalienable symbols of all Gothic narratives. They represent doom and evil fate. Interestingly, it is the second time that lightning plays a crucial role in the narrative. The first time it averted Victor from studying natural philosophy (when he, as a boy, witnessed it ruining the tree). This time, in a bright flash of lightning, Victor recognizes the features of the Monster he created.

When at home, even greater horror and despair overcame Victor. His loved ones are prostrate with grief. Frankenstein says, “Before, I had only imagined the wretchedness of my desolated home; the reality came on me as a new…disaster.” To all the horror of the situation, Justina Moritz is accused of William’s murder.

Torments of conscience tear Victor apart. He knows Justina is innocents as he saw the Monster with his very eyes. However, he hesitates to reveal the truth out of fear to be taken for a mad man. Victor’s intention to keep his secret for the sake of saving his reputation accentuates his selfishness and half-heartedness.

Chapter 8 Summary

Frankenstein’s Chapter 8 describes Justine Moritz’s trial and following condemnation. Although Justine is innocent, the court sentences her to death. During the trial, Justine provides her recollection of the events, but she can not explain how William’s necklace, the main piece of evidence against her, ended up in her pocket.

Active Characters

Justine Moritz, Elizabeth Lavenza, Victor Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of love in Frankenstein
FateFamilyLove

Chapter 8 Analysis

During the trial, Justine demonstrates extraordinary stamina and courage. She knows her conscience is clear and hopes for a fair jury. The author pays special attention to her appearance, “She was dressed in mourning, and her countenance, always engaging, was rendered, by the solemnity of her feelings, exquisitely beautiful.” This text suggests that Justine’s beauty reflects her spiritual purity and inner nobility.

Regardless of her impeccable reputation and the passionate speech of Elizabeth, who did not believe in Justine’s crime, the jury convicted her. People who knew Justina and spoke well of her in the past refused to stand up for her. As Victor recalls, “fear and hatred of the crime of which they supposed her guilty rendered them timorous.”

Knowing that Justine’s execution is inevitable, Victor is tormented by remorse. He understands that both Justine’s and his brother’s deaths came as a retribution for his insane experiments.

Further, in the ch. 8 of Frankenstein, the reader follows Victor and Elizabeth to bid Justine’s farewell. There he learns that Justine confessed to the crime only out of fear not to obtain absolution in her last moments.

Justine is not afraid of death because she knows she meant no evil. Her soul is clean, and her intentions were always noble. The only thing she fears is to be despised by the ones she loves the most, namely by Elizabeth and the rest of the Frankenstein’s family. Even at death’s door, Justine felt the urge to comfort them.

Justine’s speech makes Victor groan with pain. He would prefer to die instead of her and abolish his guilt than to carry this “hell within [him] which nothing could extinguish.” To some degree, he even envies Justine. He says, “She indeed gained the resignation she desired. But I, the true murderer, felt the never-dying worm alive in my bosom, which allowed of no hope or consolation”.

😢 Chapters 9-12

Chapter 9 Summary

In Frankenstein‘s chapter 9, the reader finds Victor overwhelmed with grief and feelings of guilt after Justine’s execution. He is tormented by remorse, as he blames himself for the tragic events that happened in his family. He contemplates suicide, but the thoughts of Elizabeth and his father stop him from taking the step.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza.

Active Themes

Theme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of revenge in Frankenstein
LonelinessFamilyNatureLoveRevenge

Chapter 9 Analysis

Victor’s internal anguish is so painful that he is unable to cope with it. Neither the support of his father nor the love of Elizabeth can alleviate his despair. Elizabeth’s suffering only aggravates his torment. Since the execution of Justina, she has lost her peace. She says, “Misery has come home, and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other’s blood.”

Victor thinks of suicide as the only way to end the torture. But taking his own life would mean liberation from the torment that Frankenstein, in summary, does not feel he deserves. He is responsible for the loved ones, whom his mindless experiments have doomed to suffer.

In an attempt to relieve the pain, Victor turns to nature. Describing nature, the author uses imagery – one of the literary devices that helps the reader to immerse in the world surrounding the character – “immense mountains,” “river raging among the rocks,” “waterfalls speaking of power”).

The nature that Victor once tried to overmaster, once again demonstrates its all-embracing might. It makes Victor face God, whom he had recently imagined himself to be. Victor admits, “I ceased to … bend before any being less almighty than that which had created and ruled the elements.”

Chapter 10 Summary

Frankenstein, in chapter 10, in summary, spends a day walking up the top of Montanvert mountain. He seeks consolation in nature. As he reaches the summit, his worst enemy appears before him. Overwhelmed with hatred, Victor intends to attack the Monster, but the latter convinces him to listen to his story.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, the Monster.

Active Themes

Theme of love in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
LoveLonelinessFateNature

Chapter 10 Analysis

The author pays a lot of attention to the description of the weather because it affects the mood of Frankenstein. Mary Shelley, with a summary of these descriptions, illustrates that nature has a higher power over humans. Its might and tranquility can soothe, heal, and intimidate at the same time.

Victor grew up among mountains and lakes. He reaches out to nature in moments of great despair. “These sublime and magnificent scenes afforded me the greatest consolation that I was capable of receiving,” he says. Majestic view of cliffs and glaciers helps Victor to forget his misery for some time and fills his soul with “sublime ecstasy.”

Upon reaching the top, Frankenstein notices “tremendous and abhorred,” shape moving towards him. In this creature, he recognizes the cause of all his sufferings. Victor’s first impulse is to attack the Monster and tear him to pieces, “My rage was without bounds; I sprang on him, impelled by all the feelings which can arm one being against the existence of another. ”

However, as the Monster begins to speak, Frankenstein acknowledges (for the first time in the narrative) that he indeed has obligations towards the ugly creature. He realizes, “I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness.” Reasoning this way, Victor resolves to listen to the Monster’s tale.

Chapter 11 Summary

Chapter 11 focuses on the story of the Monster that the latter tells to Frankenstein. In summary, the first years of his life were a total confusion. Like a child abandoned by his mother, the Monster discovered the basics of being a human by trial and error.

Active Characters

The Monster.

Active Themes

Theme of nature in Frankenstein
Nature

Chapter 11 Analysis

The Monster’s story arouses the reader’s compassion and empathy towards him. The language he uses suggests he is well-read and educated, but at the beginning of his journey, he is innocent and helpless as any other newborn. The first experiences of sunlight, darkness, cold, and hunger – all come to him as revelations, frightening, and exciting at once.

It is not until he faces a fist human-being (a poor old man who runs away from him in horror) that he understands people’s loathing of his appearance. Being hurtfully rejected first by his creator, and later by all other humans, the Monster develops a strong fear of people. He seeks salvation in nature. He can appreciate and admire its beauty similarly to Frankenstein.

His resemblance to Victor is manifested through some other aspects and symbols in Frankenstein’s chapter 11. In summary, the fire (or the light) is one of the most significant elements unifying both characters. Hiding from the cold, the Monster discovered that the bonfire provides warmth and light, but when he approached it closer, he got burned. The light that illuminated Victor at the time of his first scientific discovery also turned out to be the light that eventually destroyed him.

Chapter 12 Summary

In Frankenstein’s chapter 12, the Monster continues his narration. He tells Victor about the family he observed for a long time from a shed adjacent to their cottage. Hoping to find their sympathy in the future, the Monster begins to learn the language and tries to help the poor family by secretly collecting wood for their fire.

Active Characters

The Monster, Delacey Family.

Active Themes

Theme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of science in Frankenstein
FateFamilyScience

Chapter 12 Analysis

Observing the family member’s everyday communication, the Monster learns what true love and care are. He is amazed by Agatha’s and her brother, Felix’s devotion to their old father. Their hard work and kindness towards each other inspire him. In the eyes of the Monster, their humaneness stands in stark contrast with the cruelty of people he encountered before. They become his hope and heroes. “I looked upon them as superior beings who would be the arbiters of my future destiny,” he says.

The Monster’s affection for this family is so intense that he experiences their emotions as his own, “When they were unhappy, I felt depressed; when they rejoiced, I sympathized in their joys.” These words suggest that he is naturally kind and empathetic. He lives in hope for the day when he will “restore happiness to these deserving people.”

Motivated by these dreams, the Monster learns to speak. Word after word, he enthusiastically discovers the mystery of the human language. His thirst for knowledge is similar to the one experienced earlier by Frankenstein. Mary Shelly, in summary, brings a parallel between the two characters here. Both strove to solve the mystery of knowledge, both were driven by good intentions, and both ended up destroyed by the knowledge they obtained.

👪 Chapters 13-15

Chapter 13 Summary

Frankenstein‘s chapter 13, in summary, marks the appearance of a beautiful Arabian woman in the family. She brightens the mood of all household members. The woman does not speak their language, but as she learns, so does the Monster. When he is finally able to comprehend all conversations, the new world opens up in front of him.

Active Characters

The Monster, De Lacey family, Safie.

Active Themes

Theme of love in FrankensteinTheme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in Frankenstein
LoveScienceNatureFamilyLoneliness

Chapter 13 Analysis

With the arrival of Safie, the Monster not only learns to speak the human language but also familiarizes himself with his first book. Felix reads the full text of Volney’s Ruins of Empires to Safie out loud and gives detailed explanations of the book. From Volney’s work, the Monster learns the history of empires and the social structure of the modern world.

As he begins to understand the laws of humanity, he becomes even more perplexed. It confuses him how such “powerful, …virtuous and magnificent” creatures as humans, endowed with knowledge and blessings, can commit deeds “so vicious and base.” The more the Monster learns about humankind, the more wretched and unsatisfied he becomes. At times he wishes he would “remained in [his] native wood, nor known … beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst, and heat!” The knowledge he obtained forced him to recognize his unfit to the world in which he so desperately wanted to be accepted.

The Monster’s discovery of the society’s shortcomings serves as a turning point in chapter 13 of Frankenstein. In summary, it makes him realize his own sorrowful doom. If people value the wealth and nobility above all, then who is he without a past and a name? “Was I, then, a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?” he questions himself.

Chapter 14 Summary

The Frankenstein’s chapter 14 tells the reader the story of the De Lacey family and describes how they ended up in such poverty. Once a privileged household, they owe their present condition to the dishonesty of Safie’s father, whom Felix has helped to escape from prison.

Active Characters

The Monster, De Lacey family, Safie.

Active Themes

Theme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of science in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in Frankenstein
NatureLoveFamilyScienceLoneliness

Chapter 14 Analysis

From the household members’ conversations, the Monster learns that Safie comes from a wealthy Turkish family. Despite growing up in the Islamic world, Safie inherited her mother’s values. Her mother was a Christian Arab, enslaved by Turks. She raised her daughter in the Christian tradition and taught her to “aspire to higher powers of intellect and an independence of spirit.”

Most of these concepts were unknown to the women of Muhammad. Safie despised living in a society where a woman is a man’s property and where her only purpose is to “occupy herself with infantile amusements.” By giving annotations on Safie’s life philosophy and contrasting it to her father’s dishonesty in this chapter of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, in summary, accentuates the difference between Christianity and Islam. She pictures the Christian world as free and enlightened, while Islamic culture is represented as strict and dogmatic.

From Safie’s story, the Monster learns that Felix fell in love with her while trying to help her father to avoid execution. He risked everything to defend the honor of an innocently convicted. As payback for his good intentions, he was deprived of everything and sent away from France together with his father and sister. This story made the Monster love and respect the family event more, as he saw their unconditional devotion to serving the truth and protecting others.

Chapter 15 Summary

The Frankenstein’s chapter 15, in summary, tells the reader about the Monster’s discovery. In the dark forest, he found a bag with books. Inspired by the knowledge he obtained from them, he decided to seek protection from the De Laceys. The old man, due to his blindness, accepts him without prejudice, but others get horrified by his ugliness and reject him.

Active Characters

The Monster, Safie, De Lacey family.

Active Themes

Theme of science in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of family in Frankenstein
ScienceLonelinessFamily

Chapter 15 Analysis

The choice of books that the Monster has found in the forest is not accidental. The Sorrows of Welter made him contemplate about life and death. The main character of this book appeared to him as the best creature of all humankind, thereby even more complicated; it seemed to him why Welter wanted to commit suicide. The book pushed the Monster to question his own existence and purpose, “Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?” he asked himself ceaselessly.

Milton’s Paradise Lost made an even greater impression on the Monster’s immature mind. It made him wonder whether one becomes evil by a twist of fate or there is someone’s unkind will that hides behind one’s misfortunes. Through the Paradise Lost, the motive of lost innocence is once again underlined in this chapter of Frankenstein. In summary, the author draws a parallel between Adam and the Monster. They both were created with “no link to any other being in existence.”

However, the difference between the two is that Adam was composed, happy, and beautiful, while the Monster was made ugly and ill-fated. Adam lost his innocence when he disobeyed God. The Monster became a demon because from the moment he was born, his creator abandoned him.

As autumn gave way to cold and dreary winter, unbearable sorrow and loneliness swept the Monster’s mind. He could no longer tolerate to observe and adore someone’s life without being a part of it. He gathered his courage and revealed himself to the family. His worst fears were confirmed when people whom he grew to love so sincerely rejected him. In despair, the Monster also read Frankenstein’s notes on his creation, which filled his heart with hate and revenge.

👺 Chapters 16-20

Chapter 16 Summary

From the moment the De Lacy family has rejected him, the Monster lost all hope to be accepted by people. Seeking vengeance, he heads to Geneva to track down Frankenstein. Chapter 16, in summary, describes the events which turned a sensible creature into a devil and made him declare war to the entire human race, and foremost to his creator.

Active Characters

The Monster, De Lacey family, William Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of revenge in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of loneliness in Frankenstein
RevengeNatureLoneliness

Chapter 16 Analysis

Outraged and inconsolable, the Monster runs to the forest and ruins everything on his way. Stars, trees, and birds chirping that had previously served as a consolation to his mind, now seem to him a mockery of his grief. From the analysis perspective, such a change in perception is significant because it marks the beginning of the transformation of a good soul into a devil.

It is also notable that the Monster decides to set De Lacey’s house on fire. By burning their home, he burns the entire human society. The fire he started is proportionate to the fire that broke out in his soul. It gradually destroys all the good and sincere feelings that the Monster cherished while sitting in his hut and dreaming of being treated kindly by people.

Overwhelmed by misery and grief, the Monster convinces himself that the main culprit of his misfortunes is his creator. “Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed?” he exclaims in despair.

On his way to Switzerland, the Monster, not yet immune to kindness, rescues a girl who accidentally fell into the water. Her guard, frightened by his terrible appearance, shoots the Monster. This event embitters the creature even more and fills his heart with rage and thirst for revenge.

Arriving in Geneva, he accidentally meets little William Frankenstein. In the hope that by virtue of his age, the boy might be free from prejudice and will accept him for his harmless soul, the Monster reaches out to him. However, even the little boy despises him and tries to escape. Having learned that William is his creator’s brother and having realized that there is not a single person on this planet capable of sympathizing with him, the Monster kills the boy.

Chapter 17 Summary

To summarize, in chapter 17 Frankenstein finds himself confronted with the choice – either to comply with the beast’s demand and to give life to another monster or to be destroyed. At first, he disgustingly refuses to accept the creature’s proposal, but reflecting upon his arguments, Victor consents to create a mate for the Monster.

Active Characters

The Monster, Victor Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of love in Frankenstein
LonelinessFateNatureLove

Chapter 17 Analysis

While the beast spoke, Frankenstein experienced conflicting emotions. On the one hand, he loathed and feared the Monster, and on the other hand, he pitied him, realizing that he was responsible for the creature’s sufferings. When the Monster announced his demand, anger and horror overwhelmed Victor. He was terrified by the prospect of creating the second demon. Giving life to another creature of that sort would mean bringing more destruction and death into the world.

Victor agreed to fulfill the Monster’s demand only because the beast promised to leave Europe and never cause any harm to anyone. The Monster appealed to his creator’s pity and common sense. He explained that his anger was caused solely by the people’s contempt towards him. He claimed that if at least one living soul sympathized with him, he would forgive humans their hatred and forever leave their lands. These arguments won Victor’s trust, and Frankenstein, in summary, agreed to comply with the request.

On the way back from the cave, Victor turns to his never-betraying savior – nature. He begs it to have pity on him and cease his existence, “Oh! stars and clouds and winds, ye are all about to mock me; if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought.”

Chapter 18 Summary

By all means, Victor tries to postpone creating the second monster. He does not want to conduct his experiments at home, surrounded by family. Victor decides to arrange a trip to England to collect scientific information. His friend, Clerval, accompanies him on his journey.

Active Characters

Alphonse Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, Henry Clerval.

Active Themes

Theme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of love in Frankenstein
LonelinessFamilyNatureLove

Chapter 18 Analysis

Before Victor’s departure, his father decides to talk to him about marriage. Seeing his son’s unhappiness and tendency to isolate himself, Alphonse suspects that Victor treats Elizabeth as a sister and therefore does not want to tie the knot. In this chapter of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, in summary, emphasizes the importance of family connections and support.

Victor convinces his father that he loves Elizabeth and would not wish another happiness for himself than to become her husband. However, the mere thought of having to drag her into a terrible enterprise, which he has pledged to complete, frightens Frankenstein. Chapter 18, in summary, explains why he is not in a rush to get married. Victor wants to create a family only after the nightmare associated with the monster would be behind and long forgotten. That is why he decides to take a trip to London first. He gives himself a year to complete the work.

Elisabeth, worrying about Victor, arranged that his friend, Henry, would accompany him during the trip. Although Victor sought solitude and did not want to reveal his secret to his loved ones, he was still pleased to find out that Clerval agreed to go with him. During their long journey through Europe, Frankenstein noticed how different they were, “How great was the contrast between us! He was alive to every new scene… and I was occupied by gloomy thoughts, and neither saw the descent of the evening star nor the golden sunrise.”

Chapter 19 Summary

Frankenstein‘s chapter 19, in summary, describes Victor and Henry’s journey through Northern Europe. After spending several months in London, they received a letter from an old acquaintance from Scotland who invited friends to visit his beautiful country. In Scotland, in a remote mountain settlement, away from prying eyes, Victor decided to stop and finish his work on creating another monster.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Henry Clerval.

Active Themes

Theme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
LonelinessFateNature

Chapter 19 Analysis

Frankenstein’s and Clerval’s journey lay through beautiful places that could not leave anyone indifferent. However, Victor did not find joy in these landscapes. The beauty of nature and carefree conversations of strangers caused terrible anxiety and horrifying memories in Frankenstein. Summary of the past traumatic events lingered in his mind. His heavy thoughts contributed even further to his isolation from society. It seemed to him that the curse hung over him and put up a massive wall between him and the rest of the world. “Busy, uninteresting, joyous faces brought back despair to my heart. I saw an insurmountable barrier placed between me and my fellow men,” he says.

The journey was also overshadowed by Victor’s anticipation of the Monster to follow him relentlessly. He knew that the beast was determined to get what he wanted at any cost. Moreover, the Monster warned him earlier that as soon as the work was finished, he would undoubtedly appear before Frankenstein’s eyes. At times, Victor was afraid to leave Henry alone, because he suspected that the beast, infuriated by Frankenstein’s delays in work, would murder Clerval.

Having reached Scotland and parting with his friend, Victor finally set to work. His activity aroused an irresistible disgust in him. His feelings are understandable since when he worked on creating his first Monster, he was unaware of the terrible consequences of such experiments. Now, when he was wise and experienced, he realized that by completing the task, he was about to give life to a new evil power which could destroy everything human. The closer he approached the completion of the work, the more tortuous his thoughts became.

Chapter 20 Summary

To summarize, in chapter 20, Frankenstein breaks his promise to the Monster. The beast confronts him with death threats, but Victor is firm in his decision. He takes a boat and leaves the village. The strong current brings the boat to the banks of Ireland, where locals meet Frankenstein very unfriendly and take him to the judge, Mr. Kirwin.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, the Monster

Active Themes

Theme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of revenge in Frankenstein
LonelinessFateFamilyRevenge

Chapter 20 Analysis

When the work on creating a wife for the Monster was almost over, a clear awareness of the responsibility before humanity that he was about to take upon himself came to Victor. He could not guarantee that the newly born woman will be as agreeable and reasonable as the first creature. What if she refuses to live in a remote desert and turns violent? Even more so, if his creatures have children, then the whole population of monsters will inhabit the planet at some point.

Guided by such reasoning, Frankenstein refuses to continue working. He understands that for breaking his promise, he will pay with his own life and lives of his loved ones. However, the death of one family is nothing compared to the fate of the entire human race.

The Monster, who has been following Viktor all this time, becomes furious when he learns that his last hope has collapsed. From that moment on, the only purpose of his existence is brutal revenge. He warns Victor, “Remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night!” With these words, the reader understands that the Monster knows about Victor’s plans to get married and intends to take away what Frankenstein values the most – his beloved Elizabeth.

Even the prospect of losing his entire family is unable to dissuade Frankenstein. Mary Shelley, in summary, illustrates here, that after having made one terrible mistake in the past and having faced its outcome, Victor refused to repeat it. He recalls, “I had resolved in my …mind that to create another … fiend… would be an act of the… most atrocious selfishness, and I banished… every thought that could lead to a different conclusion.”

👮 Chapters 21-24 + Walton, in Continuation

Chapter 21 Summary

The Monster’s revenge falls upon Frankenstein in chapter 21. Circumstantial evidence points out that he has murdered a young man. Witnesses testify that they have seen his boat departing the banks of the town after the man’s body has been found. In a dead man, Frankenstein recognizes Henry Clerval. He faints and remains delusional for two months in prison.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, Alphonse Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of family in Frankenstein
FateFamily

Chapter 21 Analysis

Identifying the body, Victor noticed familiar strangulation marks on Henry’s neck. It became clear to him that the Monster was responsible for the murder. It was also obvious that the beast tried to frame Victor. He knew that Frankenstein would leave by boat. Therefore he used the same boat to drop the dead man.

Victor found himself in a situation similar to the one Justina was in earlier. They both were unfairly accused of the murders they did not commit. However, Victor had supporters – Mr. Kirwin, who genuinely felt for him, and his father. Justina had nobody to protect her. The similarity of situations in which both characters ended up supports the theme of reprisal in the narrative.

Nothing could comfort Frankenstein. Summary of everything that he had been through completely broke his spirit. The news that he was going to be released from prison did not give him any relief. In response to Mr. Kirwin’s announcement, he says, “All that you mention is nothing to me; on the whole earth, there is no comfort which I am capable of receiving.” Although Victor was formally innocent, he considered himself a murderer. There was no freedom for a man whose mind was constantly tortured with remorse.

Frankenstein would rather die in this prison and abolish himself of the torment, but he still had people whom he was obliged to protect. “Yet one duty remained to me. …It was necessary that I should return to Geneva…to watch over the lives of those I …loved,” he tells Walton.

Chapter 22 Summary

On the way to Geneva, Victor and his father stop in France to improve Victor’s health. In Paris, Frankenstein receives a letter from Elizabeth, in which she expresses concerns that he may have fallen in love with another woman. Victor decides not to postpone the marriage, but the wedding day is overshadowed by the anticipation of the Monster’s revenge.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Alphonse Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza.

Active Themes

Theme of loneliness in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of revenge in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
LonelinessLoveRevengeNature

Chapter 22 Analysis

While in Paris, Frankenstein’s father tries to cheer his son up and engage him in society, but Victor isolates himself from human interactions. He feels as if he is guilty before the entire population. His resemblance to the Monster grows proportional to his pangs of conscience. Just like the Monster in his days, Victor feels he is not worthy of being near people, “I felt attracted …to … them, as to creatures of an angelic nature. But I felt that I had no right to share their intercourse.”

Elizabeth’s letter gave Frankenstein another reason to rush events. On the one hand, he wished to make her happy, at least for a short period of time. On the other hand, he longed to put an end to his own torments. The beast threatened to come to his wedding night, which Victor understood as that he would have to fight to the death. In this chapter of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, in summary, prepares the reader for that the night is going to decide Victor’s fate.

Several days before the wedding, Frankenstein felt almost happy. Although he still worried that the Monster could be near, he embraced the hope that the tragedy might miraculously pass by him. After the ceremony, these hopes began to vanish. Elizabeth became silent and sad as if she foresaw the onset of a disaster, and Victor, tortured by his horrible secret, could not do anything to alleviate her pain.

Chapter 23 Summary

In a house where newlyweds arrive for their wedding night, Frankenstein leaves Elizabeth alone in a room while he goes to search for the Monster. Suddenly he hears blood-curdling screams of his wife and finds her dead. Devastated, he rushes back to Geneva to save his father and brother. Alphonse dies in Victor’s hands, unable to endure suffering.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Alphonse Frankenstein, Elizabeth Lavenza, the Monster.

Active Themes

Theme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of love in FrankensteinTheme of revenge in FrankensteinTheme of family in Frankenstein
NatureLoveRevengeFamily

Chapter 23 Analysis

Victor’s biggest mistake was to assume that the Monster longed for his death, while the beast planned to eliminate all those who were dear to Frankenstein. Chapter 23, in summary, serves as a climax of the narrative because with Elizabeth’s death Victor and the Monster become very much alike.

When Frankenstein’s wife died, he returned to Geneva in the hope to save at least his father and a little brother, but the effort was useless. His father “could not live under the horrors that were accumulated around him,” and died in Victor’s hands.

The Monster achieved his goal and forced Frankenstein, in summary, to suffer the same fate as he had been suffering all along – complete loneliness and isolation. Victor continued to live with one goal – to catch the Monster and take reprisal.

It is significant that Frankenstein’s ability to hate turned out to be stronger than his ability to love. While his relatives were alive, Victor did not tell anyone about the Monster for the fear that people would despise him for his experiments. Only when he was left alone in the world and became utterly seized by devouring hatred, he dared to tell the truth.

Chapter 24 Summary

In conclusion, the Monster reaches his goal and destroys Frankenstein. Chapter 24, in summary, describes Victor’s pursuit of the beast. He leaves Geneva and chases his enemy all the way to the Arctic Ocean, where Robert Walton takes him on board the ship. At death’s door, Victor asks Robert to take up his duty and kill the Monster.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, Henry Clerval, Alphonse Frankenstein.

Active Themes

Theme of revenge in FrankensteinTheme of family in FrankensteinTheme of nature in Frankenstein
RevengeFamilyNature

Chapter 24 Analysis

Before leaving Geneva, Frankenstein goes to the cemetery to visit the graves of his loved ones. There he vows to avenge their death. He feels that the spirits of the dead are going to give him the strength to find the creature. He believes that God himself empowered him with this mission, “I pursued my path towards the destruction of the daemon more as a task enjoined by heaven.”

Chasing the enemy became the meaning of Victor’s life. He ran after the Monster through the bare steppes and hot deserts, where he, like an animal, was forced to sleep under the stars and eat food inappropriate for humans. None of these hardships stopped Frankenstein. Mary Shelly, in summary, illustrates here that, except for the appearance, there is no difference left between Victor and the beast.
Despite the effort, destiny prevented Frankenstein from murdering his creation. As Walton became his friend, Victor asked him to finish his task for him. He believed that Walton, too, would treat the Monster as pure evil and have no sympathy for him. “Swear to me, Walton, that he shall not escape, that you will seek him and satisfy my vengeance in his death,” he demands of the captain.

Walter, in Continuation Summary

At the end of Frankenstein, the summary of the narrative takes up the form of letters again. Walton writes to Margaret that his crew convinced him to return to England. After Victor’s death, Walton finds the Monster bending over Frankenstein’s remains. Robert contemplates to take reprisals, but the beast promises to take his own life and disappears in the darkness.

Active Characters

Victor Frankenstein, the Monster, Robert Walton.

Active Themes

Theme of fate in FrankensteinTheme of science in FrankensteinTheme of nature in FrankensteinTheme of love in Frankenstein
FateScienceNatureLove

Walton, in Continuation Analysis

In his dying hours, Victor admits his responsibilities to the creature he gave life to, but he still justifies his desire to destroy the Monster. He says, “I created a rational creature and was bound …to assure …his happiness and well-being. This was my duty, but there was another still paramount to that. My duties towards the beings of my own species.” With this, Frankenstein leaves it up to Walton to decide whether to chase the beast or let him be.

The Monster, in turn, regrets Victor’s death since with it, he lost the meaning of existence. The scene, where he repents for all the terrible things he had done, is very notable. Its significance lies in the fact that the reader sees the Monster to be more human than his creator. Even on his deathbed, Frankenstein wished for the beast to be destroyed, while the Monster regretted all his evil deeds. He confessed, “A frightful selfishness hurried me on, while my heart was poisoned with remorse… I pitied Frankenstein; my pity amounted to horror; I abhorred myself.”

Frankenstein’s ending leaves the reader to wonder, “How does the Monster die?” The creature assured Walton that with Victor’s death, he had lost his purpose and was going to kill himself. However, the book remains open-ended, as the Monster disappears “in darkness and distance.” The reader, along with Robert Walton, is tempted to believe that the Monster is naturally kind and going to keep his promise. However, Mary Shelley leaves no guarantees that he will not return to avenge humanity.

🎓 References

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1. IvyPanda. "Summary & Analysis." August 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/study-guide-on-frankenstein/summary-analysis-by-chapters/.


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IvyPanda. "Summary & Analysis." August 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/study-guide-on-frankenstein/summary-analysis-by-chapters/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Summary & Analysis." August 9, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/lit/study-guide-on-frankenstein/summary-analysis-by-chapters/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Summary & Analysis'. 9 August.