Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

What Does the Ending Mean?

Summary What Does the Ending Mean?

At the end of Frankenstein Victor Frankenstein dies wishing that he could destroy the Monster he created. The Monster visits Frankenstein’s body. He tells Walton that he regrets the murders he has committed and that he intends to commit suicide. Frankenstein’s death suggests that he has not learned much from his own story. He causes his final collapse by trying to continue his pursuit of the Monster: “You may give up your purpose, but mine is assigned to me by Heaven, and I dare not.” Frankenstein begins the story driven and ambitious to create the Monster, and at the end of the novel he remains driven and ambitious in his quest to destroy the Monster. With his final words, Frankenstein even takes back his earlier warning about the dangers of too much ambition: “Yet why do I say this? I have myself been blasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed.” Rather than learning from his mistakes, Frankenstein compounds one mistake after another, leading to his death.

By contrast, the Monster demonstrates that he has learned a great deal over the course of the book. He has outgrown anger, envy and vengefulness. He regrets what he has done. While Frankenstein dies feeling disturbed that the Monster is still alive, the Monster is reconciled to death: so much so that he intends to commit suicide. The Monster’s decision to kill himself also confirms the importance of companionship. He recognizes that with Frankenstein dead, he is alone in the world, and he believes that without a companion there is no point in living. For some readers, the fact that the Monster grows and changes while Frankenstein continues in his destructive behavior to the end suggests that Frankenstein is the villain of the novel and bears ultimate responsibility for everything that has happened. However, other readers have pointed out that Walton doesn’t actually see the Monster kill himself. We know that the Monster is clever and persuasive: it’s possible that he announces his intention to kill himself so that Walton won’t pursue him.