Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Frankenstein is a novel written by Mary Shelley. The book is sometimes referred to as the Modern Prometheus. The story covers the experiences of a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who discovered that he could create life. Following his discovery, the scientist decided to create human like being; a creature larger than average man and very powerful. It’s actually the first successful science fiction novel that it became popular in horror stories and films. The novel finds its title from the scientist’s name ‘Frankenstein’. Walton is a seafarer who picked up Frankenstein in the cold ice and nursed him of his injuries and treated his suffering in the cold temperatures; as Victor Frankenstein Narrated the story, Walton recorded it down in a tale and sent the letters to his sister Margaret Saville back in England. The story develops about the life of Frankenstein who sought Knowledge and later on to wed Elizabeth, but unluckily his dreams of creating a perfect human being were not successful. The creature he created was a monster that was very evil and caused the death to almost all the people

The Plot

The story starts with the letters from Captain Robert Walton to his sister about the story of Victor Frankenstein and the monster. The letters written by Captain Walton tell the story as narrated by the Scientist who is victor Frankenstein himself. The narrator of the story is Captain Walton who uses the letters and quotes to give the story. Frankenstein fell in love with his adopted cousin Elizabeth and due to his pursuit of knowledge; he left his fiancée (Elizabeth) to attend college (Back 1995)A couple of years later, Frankenstein discovered that he could revive or create life from scavenging remains of human body parts; the secret of life. He becomes very happy about his discovery and writes to her again about his dreams of creating a perfect human being and going back to marry her.


Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Captain sees the world as a dark place full of secret, hidden passageways and undiscovered mechanism and that it is the role of science to solve the mystery. Victor Frankenstein became obsessed with the stories about how human life could be revived from the tales and other outdated theories and even went ahead to make one human like creature (Freedman 2002)

Victor visualizes the science and secret to life as a mystery to be probed and discovery of the secrets have to be jealously safeguarded. His teacher at the college, Mr. Krempe who was also a philosopher and a scientist helps to infuse the life myth and theories. Victor considers him as a model scientist, though uncouth he was deeply rooted in the secrecy of science and life. Being able to safeguard the secret of life and conscientiously protecting it is seen as a very critical characteristic of scientists (Back 1995). The reason why Philosopher Krempe does not give out the secrets of science claiming that nature itself did not expose how life was created also Victor does not tell any one about his vengeance for the monster who murdered the people dear to him until when he is about to die, he tells the story to captain Walton (Bloom 2006)

As Frankenstein wears down in secrecy, guilt and shame, the monster ran into hiding because of its grotesque looks. Walton is the final confessor of the events that masked the pursuit of knowledge in the life of the scientist as perilous as victor confessed to him just before he died. Victor relieves himself of the oppressive secrecy that ruined his life as he makes the confessions to captain Walton and in the same way, the monster desperately tries to get someone to understand and sympathize with his miserable existence by making a human connection (Back 1995).

Existence of Sprits: Traditionally, the sublime nature of creature was used in myths to explain the possible existence of spirits. It also covered the romance and the emotional experience of people. In this story, Victor, The scientist also believes in existence of spirits and this is revealed when he heads to the mountains to seek vengeance on the monster after the deaths of his brother William and the adopted cousin Justine. This explains the perceived relationship between the spirit world and real life, equally, the monster is described to feel its heart lightened after the hellish winter of freezing and desertion. The influence of nature on people is quite apparent in the book but for Victor this power of nature wanes away when he realizes that the

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

monster was set to haunt him regardless of where he runs (Bloom 2006). At the end of the story, Frankenstein goes after the monster obsessively; natural world in the appearance of the arctic deserts symbolically describes the background for his vengeance against the monster.

Knowledge is Dangerous: Frankenstein collected some human body parts and went to his laboratory where he placed the scavenged body parts and some mysterious compounds into a huge cauldron. Keeping the metal doors closed and watching in conquest behind the class window, Frankenstein discovers that the something was shaping up in the cauldron. To his humiliation the creature that comes out is not a perfect human being as he had anticipated in his dream but rather a monster! This shows the price of pursuing dangerous knowledge was very big and dangerous (Bloom 2006).

As a scientist, Victor Frankenstein was very obsessed with pursuing the secrecy of life that he ended up surging beyond the accepted confines as he accessed the secret of life. While in college, Ingolstadt, Frankenstein became very exhausted with his pursuit of the secret of life that he suffered and had to be nursed by his childhood friend and a friend to the Victor family as well, Henry Clerval. Henry also started to follow the works of Frankenstein as a scientist; yet he previously studied languages (Freedman 2002).

The pursuit of knowledge by scientist sees them go beyond the previous human explorations and the results of the pursuit become very dangerous to the lives and peace of the scientists. Captain Robert Walton goes beyond the preceding human explorations by venturing to reach the North Pole where he finds Frankenstein (Shelley & Butler 1998). The captain seems to believe in science and the pursuit of knowledge as he wonders what could not be discovered in the world of eternal light! Light refers to knowledge as used in this book. the faith and optimism displayed by Walton about science makes him think that the world was a dark place (lack of knowledge) full of secrets, hidden passages and unknown mechanisms and it was up to the scientists to discover the secrets and reveal the truths behind these mysteries (Bloom 2006).

Literally fire and light are closely related and the fact that one could see light then fire is close.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The monster discovers that fire shed some light in the dark when it first experienced it; however when he tried to touch it the fire harmed him. The pursuit of knowledge became very dangerous as Frankenstein’s own creation, the monster ended up killing almost everybody that Victor held dear and was close to. Led with rage and vengeance, victor comes to die as he seeks to hit back at the monster. Captain Walton on the other hand is caught up in ice sheets and having leant from the story, he pulls back his mission as the quest of knowledge was proving to be hazardous (Freedman 2002)

Frankenstein also referred to as the modern Prometheus is likened to the legendary story of the Greek god who gave out the knowledge of fire to the mankind generation and when his superiors found out he was harshly punished for it. Victor is like the modern Prometheus who attempt to give out the secret of life and is ruthlessly punished for it but unlike in the Greek myth, the knowledge of life remains a secret in Frankenstein (Shelley & Butler 1998).


Scientists as portrayed by the author are meant to help to reveal the theme of the story and expose the design of the story. The three main themes are the secrecy, dangerous knowledge and the monstrosity. The pursuit of knowledge has a limit and the secrecy and sanctity of life is very critical issues and very complex that it needs not to be surpassed or overstepped by anyone. The story is told by a doomed scientist who gives his ruined life due to the pursuit of knowledge, science about the secret of life after studying in Ingolstadt. He finally gets to create a human like creature which is very intelligent but due to the looks, people recoils with horror upon sight of the monster. Victor keeps the creation as a secret even to his fiancée as he felt guilty and ashamed but to more disgrace, the monster comes to fight its creator after realizing that he was not like other human beings


Bloom H. (2006). Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations. Chelsea

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley


Shelley M.W, Tavner G. Lubach (2009). Frankenstein – Real Reads. Windmill Books

Back K.W (1995). Frankenstein and Brave New World – – Two Cautionary Myths on the Boundaries of Science. History of European Ideas. Vol. 20 Issue 3 pp 326 – 334

Freedman C. (2002) Hail Mary: On the Author of Frankenstein and the Origins of Science Fiction. Science Fiction Studies 29.2 pp 252 – 265

Shelley M.W & Butler M. (1998). Frankenstein or, the modern Prometheus: the 1818 text. Oxford world’s classics