By Mary Shelley


Welcome to the mysterious and thought-provoking world of “Frankenstein” 🌩️, penned by the brilliant Mary Shelley. Published in 1818, this novel has captured the imaginations of readers for over two centuries. Mary Shelley, an English novelist, dramatist, and essayist, crafted “Frankenstein” when she was just 18 years old, during a unique contest among friends to write the best horror story. Little did she know, her creation would become one of the most iconic figures in literature and a foundational pillar of the science fiction genre.

“Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus,” to give it its full title, transcends mere horror to explore deep themes of ambition, responsibility, and humanity. It’s a tale of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who creates a grotesque but sapient creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley’s novel is often considered the first true science fiction story because of its depiction of scientific exploration for personal glory and the moral consequences that ensue.

In the context of its time, “Frankenstein” was groundbreaking. The early 19th century was a period of rapid scientific advancement and industrialization, and Shelley’s novel reflects contemporary anxieties about the potential for humanity’s overreach. The story raises questions that are still relevant today: What are the limits of scientific discovery? What is our responsibility to the things we create?

Let’s embark on a journey through the chilling narrative, profound themes, and complex characters that make “Frankenstein” a masterpiece of literature. Ready? Let’s dive in!

Plot Summary

“Frankenstein” unfolds through a series of letters from Robert Walton to his sister, in which he recounts the tragic tale of Victor Frankenstein. Here’s a closer look at the main events of this timeless novel:

Exposition β€” In the icy waters of the Arctic, explorer Robert Walton rescues a nearly frozen Victor Frankenstein. As Victor recovers, he tells Walton the story of his life, marking the beginning of a narrative filled with ambition, creation, and regret.

Rising Action β€” Victor, obsessed with discovering the secret of life, studies chemistry and alchemy at the university. His experiments lead him to create a living being from the parts of deceased humans. However, upon animating the creature, he is horrified by its appearance and abandons it.

Climax β€” The creature, rejected by society and its creator, seeks revenge on Victor by taking the lives of his loved ones, including his younger brother William and his bride, Elizabeth. The creature’s demand for a companion like itself, and Victor’s initial agreement followed by his refusal, escalates the conflict to its peak.

Falling Action β€” Victor vows to destroy the creature and pursues it to the Arctic. The chase consumes him, leading to his eventual downfall and the tragic loss of more lives, including his own.

Resolution β€” In the novel’s final scenes, Victor dies aboard Walton’s ship, entrusting him with the end of his story. The creature, mourning the loss of its creator, vows to end its own life and disappears into the icy darkness, leaving the tale open-ended yet profoundly moving.

Throughout the story, Shelley masterfully weaves a narrative that explores themes of ambition, the quest for knowledge, and the ethical implications of playing God. The plot of “Frankenstein” not only entertains but also invites readers to ponder the limits of human innovation and the responsibilities that come with creation.

Character Analysis

“Frankenstein” is rich with complex characters whose motivations and developments are crucial to the story’s themes and messages. Here’s an in-depth look at the main characters:

  • Victor Frankenstein β€” A brilliant and ambitious scientist driven by the desire to unlock the secrets of life and death. His obsession leads him to create the Creature, an act that haunts him throughout the novel. Victor’s journey is one of tragic downfall, marked by guilt, isolation, and the relentless pursuit of his creation to rectify his mistake.
  • The Creature β€” Victor Frankenstein’s creation, often referred to as the monster. Born innocent and with a childlike curiosity, the Creature becomes bitter and vengeful after being rejected by society and his creator. His intelligence and eloquence contrast sharply with his monstrous appearance, raising profound questions about nature versus nurture and the essence of humanity.
  • Robert Walton β€” The captain of a ship exploring the Arctic, Walton becomes a confidant to Victor Frankenstein. Walton’s own ambitions and thirst for glory mirror Victor’s, serving as a parallel to the main narrative and a warning of the dangers of unchecked ambition.
  • Elizabeth Lavenza β€” Victor’s cousin, adopted into the Frankenstein family, and later his wife. Elizabeth is a symbol of innocence and domesticity. Her violent death at the hands of the Creature is one of the novel’s most tragic moments, highlighting the far-reaching consequences of Victor’s actions.
  • Henry Clerval β€” Victor’s best friend, embodying the themes of friendship, loyalty, and the human need for connection. Henry’s support contrasts with Victor’s isolation, and his death signifies the loss of all that is good and innocent in Victor’s life.
  • Alphonse Frankenstein β€” Victor’s father, a symbol of the old generation’s values and the importance of family. His death underscores the novel’s theme of the destructive power of grief and loss.
  • Justine Moritz β€” A servant of the Frankenstein family, unjustly executed for the murder of William Frankenstein. Her fate illustrates the novel’s exploration of justice, innocence, and the fallout of Victor’s actions on innocent bystanders.

Here’s a summary of the character analysis in table format:

Character NamePersonalityMotivationsDevelopment
Victor FrankensteinAmbitious, obsessiveUnlock the secrets of life, achieve greatnessBecomes guilt-ridden, isolated, obsessed with revenge
The CreatureIntelligent, eloquent, vengefulSeeks acceptance, companionship; later seeks revengeTransforms from innocent to malevolent due to rejection
Robert WaltonAmbitious, reflectiveAchieve glory through explorationRecognizes the danger of his ambition through Victor’s story
Elizabeth LavenzaKind, nurturingRepresents domestic bliss, seeks family harmonyVictim of the Creature’s revenge against Victor
Henry ClervalLoyal, compassionateSupports Victor, seeks knowledgeHis death marks the loss of Victor’s last connection to innocence
Alphonse FrankensteinWise, caringSupports his familyHis death symbolizes the complete destruction of Victor’s family
Justine MoritzInnocent, kindServes the Frankenstein familyHer unjust death highlights the collateral damage of Victor’s actions

This analysis reveals how each character’s journey contributes to the novel’s exploration of themes such as creation, responsibility, isolation, and the consequences of ambition.

Themes and Symbols

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley is a rich tapestry of themes and symbols that delve into the human condition, the ethics of creation, and the consequences of ambition. Here’s an exploration of the major themes and symbols present in the novel:

  • Ambition and the Quest for Knowledge β€” Victor Frankenstein’s ambition to surpass previous scientific discoveries and unlock the secret of life itself drives the narrative. This theme cautions against the dangers of unchecked ambition and the pursuit of knowledge without consideration of the ethical implications and responsibilities that accompany such power.
  • Creation and Responsibility β€” The act of creation turns into a central theme the moment Victor brings the Creature to life. The novel probes deeply into the responsibilities of a creator towards their creation, highlighting Victor’s failure to care for or take responsibility for the being he brought into existence. This neglect leads to devastating consequences for both Victor and those around him.
  • Isolation β€” Both Victor and the Creature suffer profound isolation β€” Victor by his secret toils and the Creature through societal rejection. Their loneliness underscores the human need for companionship and the destructive effects of its absence.
  • Monstrosity β€” The novel questions the nature of monstrosity, suggesting that true monstrosity arises from actions and attitudes rather than appearance. While the Creature is initially benevolent, society’s rejection transforms him into the monster Victor feared he would be.
  • Nature versus Nurture β€” The Creature’s transformation from an innocent being seeking love and companionship to a vengeful monster highlights the debate between nature and nurture. His inherent goodness is corrupted by the cruelty and rejection he faces, suggesting that environment and treatment play a significant role in shaping one’s character.


  • The Creature β€” Symbolizes the consequences of unchecked ambition and the ethical dilemmas surrounding creation and scientific advancement. He also represents societal outcasts and the inherent need for acceptance and love.
  • Light and Fire β€” Often symbolizing knowledge, enlightenment, and discovery, light and fire in “Frankenstein” also have destructive connotations. Fire provides warmth and comfort to the Creature but also causes pain, paralleling the dual nature of scientific discovery.
  • Letters and Communication β€” The epistolary format of “Frankenstein” underscores the themes of isolation and connection. Letters in the novel serve as a bridge between characters, emphasizing the importance of communication and the tragic consequences of its absence.

Through these themes and symbols, “Frankenstein” invites readers to reflect on the moral and ethical implications of creation and ambition, the deep human need for companionship, and the societal constructs that define monstrosity and humanity.

Writing Style and Tone

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is notable for its sophisticated writing style and the varied tones that she employs throughout the narrative. These elements contribute significantly to the mood and atmosphere of the novel, enhancing its themes and the reader’s experience. Let’s explore how:

  • Gothic and Romantic Elements β€” Shelley’s writing style is deeply rooted in the Gothic tradition, characterized by dark, mysterious settings and a sense of foreboding. At the same time, it embraces Romantic ideals, emphasizing nature, emotion, and individualism. This combination creates a rich, evocative atmosphere that reflects the novel’s exploration of deep, often dark themes.
  • Epistolary Structure β€” “Frankenstein” is structured as a series of letters from Robert Walton to his sister, which then encompass Victor Frankenstein’s first-person narrative, and within that, the Creature’s own story. This layered narration adds depth to the story, allowing readers to see events from multiple perspectives and creating a more intimate connection with the characters’ experiences.
  • Tone Shifts β€” The tone of the novel shifts dramatically between the narratives of Walton, Frankenstein, and the Creature. Walton’s tone is filled with ambition and excitement about his voyage, reflecting the Romantic fascination with exploration. Victor’s tone is increasingly guilt-ridden and despairing, highlighting the horror and tragedy of his actions. The Creature’s narrative is poignant and evokes sympathy, contrasting sharply with the horror associated with his actions and appearance.
  • Language and Imagery β€” Shelley’s use of language is rich and descriptive, employing vivid imagery to bring her characters and settings to life. Her descriptions of the natural world, in particular, serve to mirror the emotional landscapes of her characters, reinforcing the Romantic emphasis on the connection between nature and human experience.
  • Themes and Motifs β€” The writing style is instrumental in weaving the novel’s themes and motifs into the narrative. Shelley uses recurring images and symbols, such as light and fire, to explore ideas of knowledge, creation, and destruction. The nuanced and layered use of language invites readers to consider the ethical implications of science and the nature of humanity and monstrosity.

Overall, Mary Shelley’s writing style and tone in “Frankenstein” are crucial to its enduring power and relevance. Through her skillful use of Gothic and Romantic elements, an epistolary structure, shifting tones, and rich language and imagery, Shelley creates a complex and compelling narrative that continues to captivate and provoke thought among readers.

Literary Devices used in Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a masterpiece that utilizes a wide range of literary devices to enhance its themes, characters, and narrative. Here are the top 10 literary devices Shelley employs in the novel:

  1. Foreshadowing β€” Shelley uses foreshadowing to hint at future events, creating a sense of suspense and foreboding. This device is evident from the novel’s beginning, as Walton’s letters hint at the tragic tale to come.
  2. Metaphor β€” The novel is rich in metaphors, with one of the most prominent being the Creature as a metaphor for humanity’s capacity for both good and evil, depending on society’s influence and acceptance.
  3. Allusion β€” Shelley alludes to works of literature, mythology, and biblical stories, notably the Greek myth of Prometheus, who defied the gods to bring fire (knowledge) to humanity, paralleling Victor’s quest to create life.
  4. Imagery β€” Vivid imagery is used to evoke the novel’s Gothic atmosphere, from the eerie laboratory where the Creature is brought to life to the sublime landscapes of the Swiss Alps, which mirror the tumultuous emotions of the characters.
  5. Symbolism β€” Symbols such as light and fire represent knowledge and discovery but also danger and destruction, illustrating the dual nature of scientific advancement.
  6. Irony β€” There is a poignant irony in Victor’s quest to defeat death leading only to the death of those he loves, underscoring the unintended consequences of hubris and unchecked ambition.
  7. Personification β€” Shelley personifies nature and the elements, imbuing them with emotional states that reflect the internal worlds of her characters, particularly in the portrayal of storms and the natural environment.
  8. Epistolary Narrative β€” The use of letters to tell the story creates a layered narrative that allows for multiple perspectives, adding depth and complexity to the narrative structure.
  9. Parallelism β€” The parallel journeys of Victor and the Creature highlight their similarities and differences, particularly in their experiences of isolation and desire for connection.
  10. Frame Narrative β€” The story is framed by Walton’s letters, creating a story within a story that connects the fates of Walton, Victor, and the Creature, and emphasizing the theme of the destructive pursuit of knowledge.

These literary devices are integral to the depth and richness of “Frankenstein,” allowing Shelley to explore complex themes and characters in a nuanced and impactful way.

Literary Devices Examples

Let’s break down examples and explanations for each of the top 10 literary devices used in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley, providing clarity on how these elements contribute to the novel’s narrative and thematic depth.


Walton’s encounter with the Creature in the ArcticThis early meeting hints at the tragic story of Victor Frankenstein that Walton will soon learn, setting the tone for the entire narrative.
Victor’s ominous dreams about ElizabethHis dreams foreshadow Elizabeth’s tragic death, emphasizing the link between Victor’s actions and the consequences that follow.
The Creature’s warning to Victor about his wedding nightThis direct threat foreshadows the death of Elizabeth, directly linking the Creature’s promise of vengeance to a specific, tragic event.


The Creature as a mirror to humanityThe Creature’s experiences and actions serve as a reflection of human nature, suggesting that monstrosity lies not in appearance but in behavior.
Creation of the Creature as a birthVictor’s act of giving life to the Creature is often described in terms reminiscent of childbirth, highlighting the Creator’s role as a parent.
Prometheus’s fireThe allusion to Prometheus and his fire serves as a metaphor for knowledge and its dangerous potential, paralleling Victor’s quest with Prometheus’s defiance.


The Modern PrometheusReferring to the Greek myth of Prometheus, this allusion underscores the themes of forbidden knowledge and the consequences of defying natural limits.
References to “Paradise Lost”These allusions enrich the Creature’s narrative, drawing parallels between his story and the themes of exile, knowledge, and rebellion found in Milton’s work.
Biblical references, such as Adam and SatanThese allusions serve to contrast the Creature’s innocence with his eventual fall from grace, reflecting on the complex nature of sin and redemption.


The desolate Arctic landscapeThis imagery sets a bleak and foreboding backdrop for the novel’s conclusion, symbolizing isolation and despair.
The Creature’s vivid description at his awakeningThe graphic details of the Creature’s appearance evoke horror and repulsion, highlighting the unnaturalness of his existence.
Storm scenesStorms provide dramatic imagery that reflects the turmoil within Victor and the Creature, symbolizing their inner conflicts and the chaos their actions unleash.


Light and fireThese symbols represent knowledge, discovery, and life but also danger and destruction, reflecting the dual nature of scientific ambition.
The Creature’s appearanceHis grotesque form symbolizes societal rejection and the subjective nature of beauty and monstrosity.
The ArcticThe Arctic’s vast, empty landscape symbolizes ultimate isolation and the end result of Victor’s and the Creature’s quests.


Victor’s quest to conquer death brings about deathThe irony of Victor’s ambition to create life only to cause death among his loved ones highlights the unintended consequences of his actions.
The Creature’s desire for companionship leads to isolationHis attempts to connect with humans only result in further rejection and isolation, illustrating the tragic irony of his existence.
Walton’s admiration for Victor’s genius, despite the warning his story servesWalton’s failure to heed the moral of Victor’s story until the very end represents the irony of admiring the very traits that led to Victor’s downfall.


Nature responding to characters’ emotionsThe frequent personification of nature, such as storms reflecting inner turmoil, emphasizes the connection between the characters and the natural world.
The Creature’s lifelike qualitiesDespite not being human, the Creature is endowed with human emotions and intellect, challenging the definitions of life and humanity.
The laboratory equipment during the Creature’s creationThe animation of inanimate objects during this pivotal scene underscores the unnatural act of creation Victor undertakes.

Epistolary Format

Walton’s lettersThese letters frame the narrative, providing a personal and reflective lens through which the story is told.
Victor’s narrative within Walton’s lettersThis layering of narratives allows for a deep exploration of Victor’s character and his actions from his own perspective.
The Creature’s story told to VictorThis narrative within a narrative offers insight into the Creature’s experiences and emotions, adding depth to his character.


Victor and the Creature’s shared isolationTheir parallel experiences of isolation highlight the novel’s exploration of loneliness and the need for connection.
Their pursuit of revengeThe mirrored desires for vengeance reveal the destructive cycle initiated by Victor’s actions and perpetuated by the Creature.
Both characters’ tragic endsThe parallelism in their fates underscores the novel’s themes of ambition, responsibility, and the consequences of hubris.

Frame Narrative

The story’s structure as a tale within a taleThis framing technique emphasizes the themes of storytelling and the transmission of knowledge, as well as the subjective nature of truth.
Walton’s perspective enclosing Victor’s storyWalton’s narrative serves as a cautionary frame around Victor’s tragic tale, offering a reflective viewpoint on the events.
The interconnected fates of Walton, Victor, and the CreatureThe frame narrative links their stories, highlighting the novel’s themes of ambition, isolation, and the search for understanding through the lens of multiple perspectives.

These examples showcase how Mary Shelley expertly uses literary devices to deepen the narrative complexity of “Frankenstein,” allowing for a rich exploration of its themes and characters.

Frankenstein – FAQs

Q: Who is the real monster in “Frankenstein”?
A: The question of who the real monster is in “Frankenstein” is a central theme of the novel. While the Creature commits violent acts, Victor Frankenstein’s ambition, neglect, and refusal to take responsibility for his creation can also be seen as monstrous. The novel challenges readers to consider the societal and moral factors that contribute to monstrosity.

Q: What inspired Mary Shelley to write “Frankenstein”?
A: Mary Shelley was inspired to write “Frankenstein” during the summer of 1816, which she spent with Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and others at Lake Geneva. They agreed to a ghost story competition due to the gloomy, stormy weather, inspired by their discussions on science, nature, and the supernatural. Shelley’s dream about a scientist who created life but was horrified by what he had made sparked the story.

Q: What is the significance of the novel’s subtitle, “The Modern Prometheus”?
A: The subtitle “The Modern Prometheus” refers to the Greek myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to give to humanity, symbolizing the acquisition of forbidden knowledge or power. Victor Frankenstein embodies this theme, as he seeks god-like power by creating life, facing severe consequences for overstepping human boundaries.

Q: How does “Frankenstein” address the theme of isolation?
A: Isolation is a prominent theme in “Frankenstein,” experienced by Victor, the Creature, and Robert Walton. Victor isolates himself during his studies and creation of the Creature; the Creature is isolated due to his appearance and rejection by humans; Walton experiences physical and emotional isolation on his voyage. The novel suggests that isolation leads to despair and destruction.

Q: What role does nature play in “Frankenstein”?
A: Nature plays a significant role in “Frankenstein,” reflecting the Romantic era’s emphasis on the beauty and power of the natural world. Nature is a source of solace and inspiration for the characters, particularly Victor. However, nature also reflects the novel’s themes of creation and destruction, serving as both a sanctuary and a mirror to the characters’ turmoil.

Q: Can “Frankenstein” be considered the first science fiction novel?
A: Many scholars consider “Frankenstein” to be the first science fiction novel because of its use of science to explore themes of creation, ethics, and the consequences of technological advancement. While the novel incorporates elements of Gothic horror, its speculative use of science as a core plot element marks it as a precursor to the science fiction genre.

Q: What does “Frankenstein” suggest about the pursuit of knowledge?
A: “Frankenstein” presents a complex view of the pursuit of knowledge, warning against the dangers of seeking knowledge without considering the moral and ethical consequences. Victor’s quest for divine power through science leads to tragedy, suggesting that there are limits to human understanding and control that should be respected.


Who is the author of “Frankenstein”?Mary ShelleyPercy ShelleyLord ByronJohn Keats
What motivates Victor Frankenstein to create the Creature?WealthRevengeScientific curiosityTo resurrect a loved one
How does the Creature learn about the world and human nature?Attending universitySpying on a familyReading Victor’s notesThrough a tutor
What does the Creature demand from Victor?MoneyAn apologyA mateTo be made human
Where does the final confrontation between Victor and the Creature take place?The Swiss AlpsIngolstadtThe ArcticGeneva
What is the novel’s subtitle?The Modern PrometheusThe Lost CreatureThe Dark SecretThe Tale of Woe
Who is Robert Walton?The Creature’s second victimVictor’s university professorA sea captain who rescues VictorElizabeth’s brother
What theme is central to “Frankenstein”?The importance of familyThe dangers of ambitionThe power of loveThe inevitability of fate
How does Victor first react upon bringing the Creature to life?He is overjoyedHe immediately destroys itHe faints from exhaustionHe is horrified and flees
What ultimately happens to Victor Frankenstein?He becomes a famous scientistHe is executed for his crimesHe dies chasing the CreatureHe reconciles with the Creature

This quiz is designed to test comprehension of key plot points, characters, and themes in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley.


Spot the Literary Devices in the Paragraph:

Read the following paragraph from “Frankenstein” and identify the literary devices used. List them below the paragraph.

“The moon gazed on my midnight labours, while, with unrelaxed and breathless eagerness, I pursued nature to her hiding-places. Who could believe that so great a work would be the work of an enthusiast or an ambitious man? The lovely moon is my witness; I sought not for theory but for a secret that would enable me to tread a path no one yet had trod in science.”

Literary Devices:



  1. Personification: The moon is described as gazing on Victor’s labors, attributing human characteristics to it.
  2. Metaphor: Pursuing nature to her hiding-places metaphorically represents Victor’s deep and invasive search into the secrets of life.
  3. Rhetorical Question: “Who could believe that so great a work would be the work of an enthusiast or an ambitious man?” is used to emphasize the grandeur and significance of Victor’s pursuit.

This exercise helps students recognize and understand the use of literary devices in “Frankenstein,” enhancing their appreciation of Mary Shelley’s writing style and thematic depth.