A Summary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


A Summary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

 Frankenstein is a horror novel written by English author Mary Shelley. The book was published in 1818 and is one of the earliest works of science fiction. Frankenstein contains elements of both Gothic and romantic genres. First abstracted as a short story, the book grew to a developed novel. Some of the creations that influenced this story include the Promethean myth from Ovid and John Milton's Paradise lost. The book mainly tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, who is a young scientist.

The story commences with Captain Robert Walton at St Petersburg, Russia, at the end of the 18th Century. During this period, he is waiting for a drive to the Port of Archangel. His main aim of visiting the port is to hire some Russians to help him sail to the North Pole. However, his boat gets stuck in ice far away from land. He meets Victor Frankenstein, a cold-weakened traveler on a dog sled. The captain takes the traveler aboard to nurse and take care of him. Victor narrates a thrilling tale on how he created a monster. He begins by recounting his childhood in Geneva, where he spent most of his time with Elizabeth Lavenza and his friend Henry Clerval. The 1818 edition terms Elizabeth as his cousin while the 1931 version refers to her as his adopted sister.

 Victor grows up and enrolls in the University of Ingolstadt, where he studies chemistry and natural philosophy. He feels a strong desire to discover the secret of life, and after two years, he decides to put his acquired knowledge into practice. For several months, Victor anxiously creates a creature from old body parts. One night, he secretly succeeds at bringing the beast to life, but the results horrify him. The creature turns out deformed and extremely hideous, making Victor feel remorseful and run to the streets. He meets with Henry, who helps him get back to the apartment. Upon arrival, the two realize that the creature fled the room. Victor suffers a severe illness and feels horrified by his deed. He decides to go back to Geneva to be with his family, but before departing, he receives a traumatizing letter from his father. The message informs him that William, his youngest brother, was killed.

 Overwhelmed by grief, Victor goes back home and passes through the woods in which William died. He magically senses and feels convinced that the beast killed his sibling. When Victor gets to Geneva, he realizes that a kind and gentle girl named Justine Morizts received the blame for Williams death. As a result, she was condemned and executed despite pleading innocent. This causes him to feel guilty because his creation is answerable for the demise of his brother and an innocent girl. He becomes hopeless and disappointed, then takes a trip to the mountains hoping that things will get better. As he crosses a vast glacier, he meets the monster who confesses to William's murder. 

The creature explains to Victor that his appearance made every person he met to either run away or hurt him. Due to loneliness and desperation, he went to live near the cottage of an impoverished peasant family. The creature tried to make friends with the household, but they felt scared by his appearance and fled. He begs Victor for compassion stating that he felt lonely and shunned by people. Therefore, he harmed William due to rage from desertion and disappointment. He also admits he did the act to get back at his cruel creator. He pleads Victor to create a female companion for him.

After much persuasion, the monster manages to convince him to fulfill the wish. Victor returns to Geneva then proceeds to England in the company of Henry Clerval. He then leaves his friend in Scotland and goes to an island in Orkneys, where he reluctantly replicates his work. Before finishing, he doubts the morality of his actions and destroys the female creature. Unfortunately, the first monster sees him, becomes enraged and swears to revenge. Victor dumps the second creature in the lake but is unable to leave the island on that day due to strong wind.

 The following morning, Victor finds himself on the shore of an unknown town. The town authorities arrest and inform him that he will be on trial for a murder that occurred the previous night. Victor refutes any information on the killing but shocked by the discovery that the dead body belongs to Henry. He also identifies a mark on Henry's neck, which he believes is from the monsters' fingers. Victor falls sick during imprisonment and stays in jail until he recovers.

After his release, he travels to Geneva and prepares to wed Elizabeth. However, he feels worries that the monster might kill him on the wedding night. So, he sends the bride away and waits for the beast to return. Instead, he hears Elizabeth screaming as the monster strangles her to death. Victor goes back home, but his father dies while grieving his daughter and daughter in law. He vows to trace the beast and revenge the demise of his loved ones. Alone and enraged, he tracks the creature in the North pole and almost catches him in a dogsled chase. Unfortunately, the sea swells breaking the ice above it and leaves a massive gap between him and the creature.

 At this point in the narrative, Captain Walton meets with Victor as he writes the fourth letter. Victor narrates the entire story to the captain as his health continues to worsen. He dies within a short period, and Walton tells the rest of the narrative through the letters to his sister. Several days after Victor's demise, Walton goes back to the room in which he put the body. Shockingly, the captain finds the creature near Victor's body weeping. The monster reveals his feelings of suffering, loneliness, hatred, and remorse. He also says that he can also end his misery because his creator is now dead. The story ends as the creature goes off to the Arctic to end his life.

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Published on: 21 May 2020

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