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Frankenstein

Mary Shelley
Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title Frankenstein: or, The Modern Prometheus

author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

type of work Novel

genre Gothic science fiction

language English

time and place written Switzerland, 1816, and London, 1816–1817

date of first publication January 1, 1818

publisher Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones

narrator The primary narrator is Robert Walton, who, in his letters, quotes Victor Frankenstein’s first-person narrative at length; Victor, in turn, quotes the monster’s first-person narrative; in addition, the lesser characters Elizabeth Lavenza and Alphonse Frankenstein narrate parts of the story through their letters to Victor.

climax The murder of Elizabeth Lavenza on the night of her wedding to Victor Frankenstein in Chapter 23

protagonist Victor Frankenstein

antagonist Frankenstein’s monster

setting (time) Eighteenth century

setting (place) Geneva; the Swiss Alps; Ingolstadt; England and Scotland; the northern ice

point of view The point of view shifts with the narration, from Robert Walton to Victor Frankenstein to Frankenstein’s monster, then back to Walton, with a few digressions in the form of letters from Elizabeth Lavenza and Alphonse Frankenstein.

falling action After the murder of Elizabeth Lavenza, when Victor Frankenstein chases the monster to the northern ice, is rescued by Robert Walton, narrates his story, and dies

tense Past

foreshadowing Ubiquitous—throughout his narrative, Victor uses words such as “fate” and “omen” to hint at the tragedy that has befallen him; additionally, he occasionally pauses in his recounting to collect himself in the face of frightening memories.

tone Gothic, Romantic, emotional, tragic, fatalistic

themes Dangerous knowledge; sublime nature; texts; secrecy; monstrosity

motifs Passive women; abortion

symbols Fire and light