literary analysis essay frankenstein


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Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein . Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Frankenstein: Introduction

Frankenstein: plot summary, frankenstein: detailed summary & analysis, frankenstein: themes, frankenstein: quotes, frankenstein: characters, frankenstein: symbols, frankenstein: literary devices, frankenstein: quizzes, frankenstein: theme wheel, brief biography of mary shelley.

Frankenstein PDF

Historical Context of Frankenstein

Other books related to frankenstein.

  • Full Title: Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus
  • When Published: 1818
  • Literary Period: Switzerland and London, England: 1816–1817
  • Genre: Gothic novel
  • Setting: Switzerland, France, England, Scotland, and the North Pole in the 18th century
  • Climax: The Monster's murder of Elizabeth Lavenza on her wedding night to Victor
  • Antagonist: The Monster
  • Point of View: Frankenstein is told through a few layers of first person narratives. Walton is the primary narrator, who then recounts Victor's first-person narrative. In addition, Victor's narrative contains the monster's first person story as well as letters from other characters.

Extra Credit for Frankenstein

A ghost story. On a stormy night in June of 1816, Mary Shelley, her husband, and a few other companions, including the Romantic poet Lord Byron, decided to try to write their own ghost stories, but Shelley couldn't come up with any ideas. A few nights later, she had a dream in which she envisioned "the pale student of unhallowed arts" kneeling beside his creation—the monster. She began writing the story that became Frankenstein the next morning.

The Tale of Two Frankensteins. Shelley published the first edition of Frankenstein anonymously, perhaps due to her concern that such a grim and violent tale would not be well received by her audience if they knew her gender. She revised the novel and published it under her real name in 1831. Some key differences exist between the editions, namely that in the first edition, Elizabeth is Alphonse's niece and, therefore, Victor's cousin. (In the 1831 edition, the more popular version and the one used in this Outline, the Frankensteins adopt Elizabeth from another family).

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The Definitive Guide to Analysing Frankenstein for Your English Essay

Frankenstein Books - Essay Analysis

Are you studying ‘Frankenstein’ for English but have no idea how to come up with an analysis for your essay? Look no further as we’ve got you covered with a summary of Frankenstein, and we’ll walk you through the key characters, context, themes and a  step-by-step guide on how to perfect your analysis.

PLUS, we’ll provide you with a sample analysis table (also called a TEE table ) and a sample paragraph for Frankenstein!

So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to ace your analysis of Frankenstein — let’s jump into it!

Frankenstein Summary Key Characters in Frankenstein Context Themes Explored in Frankenstein Essay Analysis of Frankenstein Studying this Text for the HSC

Summary of Frankenstein

The text is told in an epistolary narrative form using three narrators: Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the monster. The novel begins with a series of letters by Walton, an arctic explorer, to his sister. He writes of his encounter with a weakened Victor on the ice, who he nurses back to health aboard ship.

Ice - Frankenstein Summary

Victor’s Perspective

The narration shifts to Victor as he begins his tale, beginning with his nurturing and idyllic childhood with Elizabeth Lavenza, his adopted sister, and Henry Clerval, his best friend. Victor attends the university of Ingolstadt where he becomes engrossed in natural philosophy and chemistry and isolate himself from his family.

He becomes consumed with the pursuit of scientific knowledge and decides to create human life by fashioning the body from corpses. After bringing the monster to life, Victor is horrified by the sight of him and runs away, falling into a hysterical fever after the monster’s disappearance.

After his recovery, Victor prepares to return home to Geneva when he receives a letter from his father telling him that his youngest brother, William, has been murdered. On his way to his family house, Victor sees the gigantic figure of the monster lurking in the woods and is certain that he is William’s murderer.

He soon discovers that Justine Moritz, the family’s trusted servant, has been accused of William’s murder and is executed after her trial. Victor becomes tortured by grief and escapes to the Alpine valley of Chamonix. The monster approaches him and eloquently proclaims that he is intrinsically benevolent but turned cruel due to his suffering.

The Monster’s Perspective

The narration turns to the monster’s perspective as he recounts the beginning of his life and his refuge at the cottage of the De Lacey’s. Seeking love and companionship, the monster yearns to learn their language and gains knowledge by reading books, learning of his creation by reading Victor’s laboratory journal.

After summoning the courage to speak to the cottagers, he is rejected and violently beaten, forcing him to flee. The monster becomes possessed by revenge and travels to Geneva to find Victor, strangling William after he screamed in terror.

The monster ends his tale by b egging Victor to create a female monster for him to have as a companion.

Access the Frankenstein Downloadable Sample Paragraph and Examples of Analysis here!

Analysed Textual Examples Preview

Back to Victor’s Perspective

Victor resumes his narration and initially refuses but eventually agrees. Victor and Henry travel to Scotland, where Victor isolates himself to work on creating his second monster.

One night, Victor is horrified to see the monster grinning at him through the window and destroys the half-finished creation. Furious, the monster vows that he will be with Victor on his wedding night.

Later that night, Victor disposes of the remains out at sea and is drifted into dangerous waters, but he manages to land safely near an unknown town. Upon arrival, he is arrested for the murder of Henry, who has been strangled to death by the monster. Victor suffers a feverish illness in prison before being cleared of all criminal charges.

Victor returns home to Geneva with his father and marries Elizabeth. Fearing the monster’s threat, Victor sends Elizabeth away to her bedroom, yet he hears her scream and realises his fatal mistake. Soon after Victor’s father dies of grief, he resolves to devote his life to the creature’s destruction.

Snow - Frankenstein Summary

Victor tracks the monster on the ice and chases after him with his dogsled , but the ice breaks and Victor is set adrift. He is near death before Walton’s ship appears and saves him.

Walton’s Letters

The end of the story is told through Walton’s letters, where it’s learned that Victor has died. Soon after, Walton discovers the monster weeping over Victor’s body, who asks him for forgiveness.

He tells Walton of his suffering and vows to kill himself, disappearing out into the ice.

Key Characters in Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein The main narrator of the text, Victor, is responsible for creating and abandoning the monster. In contrast with his happy childhood, Victor’s obsession with scientific pursuit leads him to overstep natural boundaries and results in his family and friends’ tragic loss of lives.
The monster A gigantic hideous creature formed from dead body parts; the monster is Victor’s abandoned creation who was thrust into the unknown world. The monster is inherently good and seeks acceptance from society, but his constant rejection and hostility from humans drives him to take revenge on Victor.
Robert Walton Opening and closing ‘Frankenstein’, Walton is an arctic explorer who records the tales of Victor and the monster in a series of letters to his sister.
Elizabeth Lavenza Elizabeth is Victor’s adopted sister and wife, described as a caring young woman who is wholly devoted to Victor. She is murdered by the monster on their honeymoon.
Henry Clerval Victor’s best friend and intellectual foil, Henry supports Victor in his times of need and nurses him back to health. The monster kills him after Victor destroys the second monster.

Context of Frankenstein

Frankenstein is set during the 18th century and engages with many of the important ideas and thinkers of the Romantic period . This literary and philosophical period was marked by political, economic, scientific, and social enlightenment that emphasised reason and individualism.

How Frankenstein Came to Be

Considered one of the first science-fiction novels, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein began as a simple ghost story.

In 1816, the revolutionary lyrical poet Percy Bysshe Shelley travelled with his wife Mary to visit his friend Lord Byron in Switzerland. Due to the constant rain that kept them indoors, Byron suggested a ghost story contest to entertain themselves.

Based on a nightmare, Mary’s story won the contest, and she was encouraged to turn it into a full-length novel , which she did.

The daughter of the radical feminist Mary Wollstonecraft and radical philosopher William Godwin, Mary’s writing was heavily influenced by her parent’s writing and exposure to revolutionary thinkers . Frankenstein draws upon various philosophical ideas about childhood development, identity, and education, notably through the works of Jean-Jacques Rosseau and John Locke.

Other Influences

The prominence of scientific rationalism in Frankenstein was influenced by Luigi Galvani’s reanimation of dead tissue by applying electricity to a dead frog . Shaped by contemporary developments in scientific progress and discovery, Frankenstein serves as a cautionary tale for relying on scientific education divorced from moral values.

Frankenstein also draws upon the ideals of the Romantic Movement and the French Revolution during the 18th and 19th centuries. Victor’s creation of the monster implies defiance towards religion and a push towards enlightenment and rationality.

The novel is linked to two creation texts: the Greek myth of Prometheus and the Biblical creation story recounted in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’.

Dr Frankenstein Film

Image sourced from BBC Science Focus Magazine

Themes Explored in Frankenstein

As a novel, several structural, contextual, and literary elements aid in deconstructing the major themes of the text.

In Frankenstein, the use of multiple narrators, foreshadowing, symbolism, intertextuality, and allusions create parallels and connections to fundamental ideas of significant social and political upheaval.

Below are some of the key themes from Frankenstein that make for a strong starting point to structure your essay analysis:

  • Pursuit of knowledge
  • Sublime nature
  • Responsibility

How to Analyse Frankenstein in 3 Steps for Your Essay

Students often try to start with their thesis while attempting to answer an essay question. Instead, you should use your analysis as the starting point!

Analysing your text is a great way to gain an in-depth understanding of its meaning before you begin to answer anything about it.

After you’ve analysed your text, you will be able to build on its themes and construct a strong thesis!

We’re going to walk you through creating an essay analysis for Frankenstein in three simple steps!

Step 1: Choose your example

When choosing your example, a pro tip is to search for an excerpt that contains a technique. Techniques are the key to helping you dig deeper into what meaning the composer is trying to convey.

We have chosen to look at two quotes that compare Victor to God:

“Wretched devil! You reproach me with your creation, come on, then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed.”
“Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed.”

Step 2: Identify your technique(s)

When trying to locate a technique within your example, the best method is to identify a technique that enables you to uncover a deeper subtext of your work and elevate your argument and analysis.

Rather than referencing simple language techniques like alliteration and rhyme, try searching for techniques that unveil symbolic meanings like metaphors, motifs, allusions, and intertextuality.

We have identified three techniques in the two quotes above for our Frankenstein essay analysis: allusion, symbolism and metaphor.

It’s always better to try and find multiple techniques in your quotes rather than just one, so you can really show off your analysis skills!

Check out our list of literary techniques here!

Step 3: Write the analysis

When you write your analysis, the key focus should be on what effect the technique has. Simply labelling what technique you’re using is not analysing and will award you minimal marks.

Technique labelling would look like this:

The allusion of Victor to Prometheus and God is shown through Victor’s threat to “extinguish the spark” as symbolic of Prometheus’s forbidden power and the metaphor of the monster as “the fallen angel” as a reference to Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’.

Instead of labelling, we need to flesh out how each technique allows a closer reading of the text.

Firstly, the allusions are important as they provide a familiar narrative in which we can view the characterisation of Victor as God and the monster as his creation.

The symbolism of Victor’s threat to ‘extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed’ is important because it parallels Prometheus as a representation of a figure that disrupts the natural order.

The metaphor of the monster as “the fallen angel” is significant because it alludes to Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’ and suggests that Victor has failed in his moral duty and responsibility as the creator.

So if we included all that in our analysis, it looks like:

Victor’s characterisation as God serves as an allusion to the creation texts of the Prometheus myth and the Biblical creation story referenced in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. Victor’s threat to “extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed” parallels Prometheus and symbolises Victor’s challenging of the natural order and transgression of forbidden territory by playing God. The monster’s plea to Victor that “I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel” is a metaphor that alludes to Adam’s lament to God referenced in Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’. The monster’s likening to Adam prompts Victor to evaluate his moral duty and responsibility as the creator.  

Studying this text for HSC Extension English

If you’re studying this text for the HSC Extension English , when writing an essay on Frankenstein, you’ll need to connect your ideas to the rubric. We’ve included the rubric below to refresh your memory!

HSC Extension English 1 - Elective 2 Rubric

Link #1: Seeking unity, certainty, solace, justice or restoration

The monster’s experience in Frankenstein is wholly based on his journey to seek unity, certainty, solace, justice and restoration. The monster begins his life seeking unity and companionship, with his pursuit for knowledge and humanity displaying his genuine desire to participate in society .

However, the hostile responses of individuals exemplify his rejection and isolation from society.

The monster’s inability to find acceptance fuels his desire for destructive justice against his creator to restore his world of upheaval.

Link #2: Represent shifting values, contexts and attitudes

Containing elements of Romanticism, Gothicism and Science Fiction, Frankenstein is a revolutionary novel that heavily draws upon the shifting values, contexts, and attitudes of society during the Age of Enlightenment. The novel reflects the growth of ideas centred on reason, progress, and liberty during a period of significant scientific and technological advancement.

Rather than simply celebrating these values, Shelley critically represents attitudes of concern towards rapid scientific development by warning of the danger of overstepping human potential.

Need some help analysing other texts?

Check out other texts we’ve created guides for below:

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Ashley Sullivan is a Content Writer for Art of Smart Education and is currently undertaking a double degree in Communications (Journalism) and a Bachelor of Laws at UTS. Ashley’s articles have been published in The Comma and Central News. She is a film, fashion and fiction enthusiast who enjoys learning about philosophy, psychology and unsolved mysteries in her spare time.

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Introduction of frankenstein, summary of frankenstein, major themes in frankenstein, major characters in frankenstein, writing style of frankenstein, analysis of literary devices in frankenstein, related posts:, post navigation.


Background of the novel, historical context.

This genre was originated by Horace Walpole with the publication of his novel The Castle of Otranto in 1764. The novel was subtitled as “A Gothic Novel” in the second edition. The main characteristic of the gothic literature is that it focuses on the emotions and terror (pleasurable terror).

The writers of the “Age of Reason” had sometimes started believing in the “infinite perfectibility of man.” However, gothic literature presented man as miserably imperfect and dependent on the mercy of higher and powerful forces of nature and death.

Literary Context

Frankenstein summary.

In Switzerland, Frankenstein has been living a perfect childhood. He has a loving family that adopts needy orphans. Among the orphans, there was a beautiful Elizabeth who then became the closest friend, love, and confidant of Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein also has another best friend, Henry Clerval, who was also wonderful and caring. His mother died due to scarlet fever when Victor turned seventeen years old and went to the University of Ingolstadt. 

Frankenstein Characters Analysis

Victor frankenstein.

The Monster kills his brother, best friend, and newly wedded wife. The Monster also indirectly kills two other people: Justin Moritz and Victor’s father. Victor was highly ashamed of his act of creating the Monster; however, he does not tell anyone about the horror he has created even when it is getting out of control.

The Monster

It is the mad scientific creation of Victor Frankenstein. Victor creates him from the old body and parts and chemicals. When he is born, he is eight feet tall and immensely strong; however, he has a mind of a newborn. Victor abandoned him for his horrifying looks. He is highly confused and tries to assimilate into the society of humans, but society also rejected him. When he looks into the mirror, he realizes his ugliness that prevents society from looking deep into his inner goodness.

Robert Walton

He is the main narrator of the story. He narrates the story through letters to his sister. He is the captain of the ship bound to the North Pole. The ship is entrapped between the ices. When they are waiting for the ice to melt, he and his crew members rescue Victor, entrapped in the braking ice, while chasing the Monster for revenge. When Victor recovers from his illness, he tells his account of his life to Walton and then soon dies. Walton’s meaningful and strong friendship with Victor is about to form that he dies, and he laments over his death.

Elizabeth Lavenza

She is the adopted sister of Victor Frankenstein. She turns into his best friend, confidant, lover, and, ultimately, his wife. In the novel, she is the mother figure. When the mother of Frankenstein is dying, she wishes for Elizabeth to replace her place.

Henry Clerval

Alphonse frankenstein, william frankenstein.

He is the youngest brother of Frankenstein. He is dear to everyone in the family. He is killed by the Monster in the woods outside Geneva to seek revenge from Frankenstein for creating him and then abandoning him. The death of William makes Frankenstein very guilty for creating the Monster.

Justine Moritz

Caroline beaufort  , themes in frankenstein, treacherous knowledge, sublime nature, miscreation and monstrosity.

For most of the critics, the novel itself is monstrous as it is the combination of the multiple texts, voices, and tenses.

Family, Society, Isolation

In the preface of the novel, Shelly claims the novel to be a pleasing representation of “domestic affection.” In the novel, full of tragedy, murder, and despair, this claim seems to be strange and weird. In fact, in the novel, all these murders, despair, and tragedy occur because of the lack of association with both family and society. 

In other words, the real evil in the novel is neither the Monster nor Frankenstein; it is the alienation and isolation. Victor isolates himself from his family and society in the pursuit of knowledge; therefore, he does not realize his responsibilities towards the society and the consequences of his actions.

Similarly, the evil nature of the Monster is nor by birth but by his abandonment by society. He is filled with anger and hate and wants to isolate Victor the way he is isolated. Therefore, isolation from society and family is the worst fate that a person can have and is the root cause of evilness in the world.

Determination and Failure

However, he fails to fulfill his responsibility as a creator, thus highlighting his failure. He thinks to be like a god; however, he ends up being the father of a devil. Walton soon realizes the danger of his determination and prevents himself and his crew from dying; however, he does not give up on his ambition in a positive mood but says that his glory is robbed. This suggests that all people who try to seek ambitions above anything, they are nothing but “unfashioned creatures” who have faulty and weak natures. 

When Victor creates the Monster, he has horrible looks but is innocent and has an open heart. When he receives the mistreatment from his creator Victor and from society, he becomes angry and vengeful. This behavior of the Monster is understandable as he gets hurt by the unfair treatment and rejection and wants to hurt them back. When Felix attacks the monster and escapes with the peasants, he says that his heart is now filled with the feeling of hatred and revenge, and “I bent my mind towards injury and death.” The monster wants to isolate Victor from society as he is isolated. For him, revenge is more dear to him than food and light.

Lost Innocence

The novel Frankenstein is the illustration of the loss of youthful innocence. The most apparent case is Victor, the protagonist of the novel. Victor is a highly ambitious man and wants to change the world with his creation. He wants to explore the mysterious powers and gain knowledge of the hidden mysteries of creation.

Frankenstein Literary Analysis

However, Victor reignites the conflict when he gives up on creating the female monster and throws away the remains of his works in the sea. Unaware of the consequences of his action, his reckless choice makes the Monster vow revenge against him. The Monster killed his friend Henry Clerval and his newly wedded wife, Elizabeth.

Abstract ideas and concepts in a literary text are represented by objects, characters, and figures. Following are the symbols in the novel Frankenstein by Merry Shelley

Fire and Light

Passive women, setting of the novel.

The story of the novel Frankenstein is set in Switzerland. The country is in central Europe. Mary Shelley was living in Switzerland when she started writing the novel.

Gothic Novel

With the employment of elements of secrecy, mystery, and disturbing psychology, the novel Frankenstein belongs to the genre of Gothic literature. The novel is an account of the doomed monster of Dr. Frankenstein. The Gothic novel initiated as a literary genre in the 1750s. The genre has the characteristics of secretive and mysterious events, supernatural elements, ancient setting, isolated locations, and mental undercurrents that are associated with the repressed sexuality or family dynamics.

The novel provides an obscure description of the procedure that Victor uses to create the Monster. His dialogue “Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil” increases the horror instigating the reader to imagine the procedure itself. The action of the novel mostly took place in the nighttime with mysterious circumstances. 

Frankenstein also falls short of the traditions of Gothic literature. In contrast to traditional Gothic elements like ghosts, etc., the birth of the Monster is not mysterious but deliberate. The questions of his birth and creation are known to the readers.

Science Fiction

Frankenstein also initiates the genre of science fiction. According to many critics, Frankenstein is the first novel of science fiction. The genre of science fiction deals with the speculations about the possible applications of scientific advancement and technology. The rules necessary to maintain order in life have lapsed in the science fiction novels.

For instance, in science fiction, the common practice is the existence of life out of the earth. Science fiction novels can be used to criticize contemporary society implicitly through scientific developments and fictional technologies.

Point of View

After listening to the story of Victor, Walton admires his experiences. When Victor reaches in the story to the episode in which he meets the Monster, the narration shifts to the Monster. The Monster narrates his miseries in the first person.

Initially, the readers and Victor both assume the monster to be inhumane and barbaric; however, listening to his perspective, both realize the kindness and innocence of the monster. The narration again changes to Victor, who continues his story. The novel ends with the narration of Walton, who ends the story from the first-person point of view.

More From Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley’s Visionary Creation of Frankenstein: a Literary Analysis

This essay about Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” explores the novel’s profound examination of human ambition, ethical boundaries, and the consequences of scientific exploration. It highlights the intricate relationship between Victor Frankenstein and his creation, the Monster, and discusses themes of isolation, societal prejudices, and the limits of Romantic ideals. The essay underscores the novel’s relevance to contemporary scientific and ethical debates.

How it works

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” stands as a monumental achievement in literary history, recognized not just for its chilling narrative but for its profound exploration of human ambition, ethical boundaries, and the consequences of scientific exploration. Published in 1818, the novel emerged from the fertile intellectual environment of the Romantic period, a time characterized by a deep engagement with the tensions between reason and emotion, nature and industrialization. Shelley’s creation transcends the confines of a Gothic horror tale, presenting multiple layers of meaning and a prophetic critique of the hubris associated with scientific advancement.

Central to “Frankenstein” is the intricate relationship between creator and creation, which Shelley examines with remarkable psychological and philosophical depth. Victor Frankenstein, the novel’s protagonist, epitomizes the archetypal mad scientist driven by an insatiable thirst for knowledge. His obsession with animating life leads him to defy natural laws, resulting in the creation of a sentient being, often referred to as the Monster. This act raises fundamental questions about humanity, identity, and the moral implications of creation.

Victor’s quest for forbidden knowledge serves as a critical examination of Enlightenment ideals, which championed reason, progress, and dominion over nature. Shelley warns of the perils inherent in unchecked scientific ambition that ignores ethical boundaries and the natural order. Victor’s tragic flaw is not simply his scientific curiosity, but his arrogance and lack of foresight. By neglecting the moral ramifications of his work and failing to take responsibility for his creation, he unleashes a chain of events that leads to his own downfall and immense suffering for those around him.

The Monster, often misinterpreted as a mere grotesque figure, emerges as one of the novel’s most tragic and sympathetic characters. Shelley’s portrayal imbues the creature with a profound sense of humanity, highlighting the intrinsic qualities of a being rejected and condemned by society. The Monster’s eloquent articulations of loneliness, rejection, and longing for companionship resonate deeply with readers. His transformation from a benevolent, innocent being into one driven by rage and vengeance underscores the novel’s theme of nurture versus nature. Shelley’s narrative suggests that monstrosity is not innate but a consequence of social alienation and the absence of empathy.

The Monster’s story within the novel serves as a powerful critique of societal prejudices and the dehumanizing effects of marginalization. His poignant appeals for acceptance and understanding challenge readers to reconsider their perceptions of otherness and their ethical responsibilities towards those who are different. In this sense, “Frankenstein” prefigures modern discussions about inclusivity, identity, and what it means to be human.

Shelley’s use of a framed narrative structure, with multiple layers of storytelling, enhances the novel’s complexity and richness. The story unfolds through the letters of Robert Walton, an ambitious explorer who encounters Victor in the Arctic. Victor’s narrative is interwoven with the Monster’s account of his experiences, allowing Shelley to present various perspectives and voices. This technique underscores the interconnectedness of the characters’ fates and the broader implications of their actions, adding depth to the central themes of the novel.

“Frankenstein” also engages deeply with Romantic ideals and critiques their limitations. The Romantic movement celebrated the sublime beauty of nature, individualism, and emotional depth. Victor’s initial inspiration to create life is driven by a Romantic fascination with nature’s sublime power and the potential for human creativity. However, his endeavor ultimately reveals the destructive potential of such pursuits when they are divorced from ethical considerations and respect for the natural order. Shelley’s novel thus serves as a cautionary tale about the limits of human ambition and the need for a balance between reason and emotion, science and morality.

Isolation and its impact on the human psyche is another central theme that resonates through the novel. Both Victor and the Monster experience profound loneliness and alienation, driving their actions and shaping their destinies. Victor’s self-imposed isolation, fueled by his obsession with his work, leads to his emotional and physical deterioration. Similarly, the Monster’s enforced isolation, resulting from societal rejection, propels his descent into bitterness and revenge. Shelley vividly illustrates the destructive effects of isolation and the fundamental human need for connection and empathy.

“Frankenstein” also engages with the scientific debates of its time and the ethical implications of technological advancements. Shelley’s references to galvanism—a scientific theory suggesting the reanimation of dead tissue through electrical currents—root the novel in contemporary scientific discourse. This engagement adds a layer of realism to the narrative, making the story’s ethical questions even more pertinent. Shelley’s cautionary tale about the potential consequences of scientific experimentation without moral oversight remains relevant in today’s world, where technological advancements continue to raise complex ethical and existential questions.

In conclusion, Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a visionary work that transcends its Gothic horror origins to offer a profound exploration of human nature, scientific ambition, and ethical responsibility. Through its complex characters, layered narrative structure, and engagement with contemporary scientific and philosophical debates, the novel challenges readers to reflect on the consequences of playing God and the importance of empathy and ethical consideration in the pursuit of knowledge. Shelley’s masterpiece continues to captivate and inspire, underscoring the timeless relevance of its themes and the enduring power of literature to illuminate the human condition.


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Home — Essay Samples — Literature — Frankenstein — Victor Frankenstein Analysis


Victor Frankenstein Analysis

  • Categories: Frankenstein Responsibility

About this sample


Words: 618 |

Published: Mar 19, 2024

Words: 618 | Page: 1 | 4 min read

Table of contents

Introduction, victor's ambition, the admirable and dangerous nature of victor's ambition, the devastating consequences, victor's lack of responsibility, the dangers of unchecked scientific progress, victor's character as a reflection of the human condition.

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literary analysis essay frankenstein

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley Essay

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A summary of Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein”

“Frankenstein” is a science fiction novel written by Mary Shelley. It revolves around a young boy named Victor Frankenstein who had an obsession with death and through this obsession he was able to create life from nothing. After creating life he is however terrified and disgusted of how it looks and he decides to abandon it without giving it a name as its physical appearance is scary and nothing at all as he expected.

He therefore tries to live a normal life and makes an effort to forget his own creation. Due to the abandonment the monster is left perplexed, annoyed and frightened. After his tiring work of creating human life, Victor falls ill and it takes four months for his youth friend to nurse him back to health. The monster then travels to Geneva and meets a little boy called William in the woods, where he hopes that the young boy who is not yet corrupted by the views of older people and the world will accept him as he is.

The monster is however wrong and when the Frankenstein sees it; he hurls invectives infuriating the monster. The monster however tries its best to talk to the boy but falls on deaf ears, the monster then covers the boy mouth to keep him quiet but this ends in the boy suffocating. Frankenstein receives a letter from his father stating that his younger brother is dead and that he was murdered. Despite the fact that this act was not intended, the monster took this as the first act of revenge towards his creator.

He places a necklace the boy was wearing on a sleeping girl, the nanny to the boy. Justine the boys nanny was tried and found guilty fro the murder and executed. When Frankenstein arrives he saw the creature in the woods and knew that the monster had killed his brother and placed his mother’s locket on the sleeping nanny.

Frankenstein, troubled and heavily burdened by anguish and self reproach for creating the monster that caused so much devastation, he flees to the mountains to find peace. After a while alone, the monster approaches Frankenstein, who tries to kill it. But the monster being physically bigger, stronger and more alert than his creator gets away and gives Frankenstein some time to cool off and compose himself.

The monster tells Frankenstein of its encounters with humans and how terrified it was of them. He spend a year observing a family from a cabin he was living in, this gave him more knowledge and self conscience concluding that his physical appearance was very different from the humans he was observing.

On revealing himself however, the humans rejected him and were horror struck by his appearance and reacted ferociously, a reaction that made the monster angrier and he seeks vengeance on his creator.

The monster demanded that Frankenstein create a female companion for him as it had the right to be happy. The monster promises that they will vanish into the wilderness and not bother any more about humans. Frankenstein however does not create a companion for the monster and destroys all the work he was doing.

The monster witnesses Frankenstein destroying his creation and vows to revenge on it. The monster murders Clerval and implicates Frankenstein. Frankenstein is acquitted and he returns home to marry his cousin Elizabeth, who is murdered on their wedding night by the monster as part of the monsters revenge.

Frankenstein father dies after this tragedy as he could not handle the tremendous loss of William, Justine, Clerval, and Elizabeth. Frankenstein vows to go after the monster and destroy it. They chase each other for several months and they end up in the North Pole where Frankenstein dies form illness and the monster mourns for Frankenstein justifying its revenge and expressing remorse. Afterwards, the monster travels further towards the pole to destroy itself so that nobody never finds out of it existence.

Comparing Shelley’s portrayal of the natural sciences in “Frankenstein” to her portrayal of other types of knowledge in that novel

According to Shelley, Frankenstein believed more in science than he did in humanity. His obsession with death from the time he was a young boy made him believe that he could eliminate death through science. This passion led him to pursue chemistry which became almost his sole purpose in life to use chemistry to create life and eliminate death. In the university, Frankenstein attempts to create life from nothing and he surprisingly manages to do so.

The only thing is his creation turns out not differently than he expected, the creature if gigantic and it horrifies him to look at. He sees it as an eyesore, a disgrace and the creature escape into the society leaving it at the mercy of humanity. The point at which the creature escapes brings in the humanity aspect in the novel (55-56).

However, after escaping into the society the creature is met with human hostility and feels rejected. The rejection forces the creature to vow revenge on his creator by killing all his close and loved ones (97). The creature carries out its vengeance on Frankenstein by killing his brother William, his friend Clerval and his wife Elizabeth (116).

The creature also mourns for Frankenstein after his death showing that it has a sensitive human side and then it goes of to kill itself as it terms and takes responsibility for causing the death of its creator. This shows that science and humanity came together in the creation and shaping of the creature. Science was used to bring the creature to life while humanity was used to shape how the creature interacted with people and how it handled its feelings and emotions. (173)

In Shelley’s view, science and humanities are separated by how they are carried out and how one comes into contact with them. Humanities take root when the creature observes a family from the woods learning to speak and also develop emotionally. If the creature had not observed the family then nurturing of the creature may have not taken place.

Science is preserved and maintained in the laboratory to make life from scratch while the humanities come into play as soon as the creature comes to life. Humanities take centre stage when the creature is first of all rejected by its creator and all other people follow suit.

This makes the creature feel as if he is not good enough and that it is its destiny to be alone without any companionship for eternity. This humanity in the creature forces it to go back to his creator to demand that he creates a companion but this turns out badly as Frankenstein does not go through with it (114). Humanity in this novel is also seen when Frankenstein experiences death of his loved ones that eventually pushed him to the scientific notion of creating life.

Frankenstein’s mother’s death and his father’s professor rebuking him fro reading trash which was in essence lightning that had destroyed a tree, pushed him to learn more about science becoming obsessed with it. If these events had not taken place maybe the creation of the creature would not have taken place leaving a very different story in its place.

In reference to Shelley, sciences have an effect on the people who study them. This is simply because the book shows us how one person’s irresponsibility and ambition can harm other people who are not directly involved on eh science project. Science made Victor Frankenstein create a monster and on realizing that the creature did not turn out to be how he expected, he abandoned and rejected it (73).

This rejection made the creature go on a rampage and kill innocent people related to the creator. The innocent people did not have to die but they lost their lives because of one Victor Frankenstein’s obsession and ambition to create life. Life is scared and surely to attempt to create it from dead body parts of other human beings is most likely than not expected to bring havoc and misery on unsuspecting individuals.

The main point in this book is every person should take responsibility of their actions and not expect other people to pay for their shortcomings. Science is something that every person who practices it should be aware that there is a probability of an experiment going wrong and therefore amply and adequately prepare for the outcomes of the experiment whether good or bad.

Humanities on the other hand are portrayed as how one builds his own personal character among the people around him and the people he encounters. In this novel, humanity is depicted in the loss of loved ones that makes Victor Frankenstein to be obsessed with death and try to find a cure for it.

Humanity is also seen whereby Frankenstein is anguished by the death of his brother, friend, Justine and Elizabeth that he vows to kill or be killed by the monster (Shelley 86). This shows that however much Victor was obsessed with science he also had strong feelings for the people around him and it tore him apart when the creature he created killed them.

Humanity in the creature is shown when he feels dejected by his creator and very other human who sets eyes on him and when he observes a family from a distance learns how to speak and develops emotionally.

The fact that everyone showed a hostile human side to the creature made the creature vulnerable and it went on a rampage killing innocent people (Shelley 208). In this novel the creature displays humanity when he demands for a companion to be created so as he can have someone to share his life with and also when he mourns over the death of his creator and implicates himself as the cause of the death of his creator.

In her novel Shelley portrays the knowledge of humanity more as compared to the knowledge of science. This is seen when she portrays that young Victor Frankenstein got an interest in science after experiencing the trauma of losing his mother. This loss made Frankenstein obsessed with death and he tried to find a cure for death.

Through his quest and ambition to cure death he created the Frankenstein monster from dead decomposing body parts of other human beings that were sewn together and brought to life with the help of science (Shelley 73). Humanities is shown as more valuable and ethical as it forms the basis of how one will be portrayed by the society and how one will react to different things and people in society.

Humanity is portrayed as better than science in this novel as it shows different relationships between different people and how actions of one person adversely affect other people. For example, the decision by Victor Frankenstein to create life from dead body parts that brought for the creature termed as a monster brings serious effects and consequences to his family members not to mention the monster itself.

Humanity allowed the creature to develop emotionally and learn how to speak trough observation and experience kindness from a blind man and while saving a young girl form drowning, however in both instances the creature was reprimanded and driven off as people were not welcoming enough. Science only creates that creature but it is humanity that the creature has to deal with and understand why humans are so hostile towards him.

Similarities between science and humanities in this novel are brought out in that both concepts are interdependent and both of these concepts aim to bring improvements to the society as a whole and reduce human misery. The fact that humanity pushed Frankenstein to look for scientific ways to eliminate death from the society after his other loved ones died shows that these two concepts are correlated and work hand in hand with each other to make the society a better place to live in.

The differences on the other hand are that ethics or the pillars of humanities while blind innovation and creativity is the pillar of science. This is to say that scientists do not take into consideration the effects and consequences of their experiments that at times may have a negative effect in humanity.

This is seen when Frankenstein’s ambition makes him create a monster that is much bigger than the human race that caused havoc and misery among human kind. Humanity is seen when Frankenstein is haunted by his conscience after the monster goes on a rampage killing his loved ones. This shows that humanity has consequences and that people should take intro consideration the feelings of other people before they make decisions.

In conclusion, “Frankenstein” tells of a young boy named Frankenstein who attempted to create life, though he succeeded the experiment turned out to be scary and wrecked havoc.

The novel shows as much as science is innovative and interrelated with humanity, ethical issues should also be taken into consideration for most so that innocent people do not suffer. One man’s decision caused the death of three individuals this is not justified. If Victor Frankenstein had thought of the ethical issues of his creation a lot of suffering, misery and death would have been avoided.

Works Cited

Shelley, Marry. Frankenstein . New York: Norton, 1996. Print.

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