Frankenstein was written in 1816 by female novelist, Mary Shelley. She was only 18 at the time she had the idea for it. Her, her boyfriend Percy Shelley (whom she later married) and some of her friends were on holiday at the shore of lake Geneva in Switzerland, and at the time it was pouring down outside, so one of them decided that they should have a competition to see who could create the scariest horror story. Each person tried desperately to think of one, so much that they tried eating things that would give them nightmares.
Mary had the idea of a creature being brought to life, which then lead to the birth of Frankenstein. This book is often referred to as ‘the modern Prometheus’, named after a greek god who stole power from heaven to create life from lifeless materials.
When this book was first published, it was done so under an anonymous name because in those days women were not supposed to do things like Write horror stories and therefore would have been outcast.
Summary This story is based upon an English man called Robert Walton who is writing to his sister back in England. He is seeking to find the North Pole. In doing this, he finds a man called Victor Frankenstein floating on a piece of ice. Walton drags the man aboard and revives him. When Frankenstein is recovered he starts to tell his story. He begins to tell Walton about his father and how he came to life, and goes on to talk about his childhood. At this time everything seems fine as Frankenstein appears to have had a very happy time as a child with his family, but it is after this that things start to go wrong.
Frankenstein tells of how he goes to university to study natural philosophy, otherwise known as chemistry. It is from this that he goes on to make the discovery he so dearly goes to regret – the discovery of giving new life to dead material. He goes on to say that with this discovery he begins to build a new being. He not only begins to build it, he becomes obsessed with creating new life and even though he becomes ill he continues with it until it is done. He explains how excited he is with what he is doing and how he can’t wait to get it finished. However, when it does spring to life the last emotion Frankenstein feels is joy.
He is horrified by his creation, and runs out of his room. He returns later to find, to his extreme delight, the monster to be gone. Frankenstein soon forgets about it and decides to return to Geneva to visit his family who he has not seen for 5 years. He returns to discover some grave news. His younger brother, William, has been murdered and his adopted sister, Justine, has been accused of the crime. Frankenstein instantly knows who had really performed the act. He knew that it was the monster he created which had done this heinous deed. He knew, however, if he told the court that they would not believe him, so Justine was convicted and executed.
This filled Frankenstein with great bitterness and hatred towards the monster. He decides to go for a walk in the Alps to take his mind off things. It is here where he confronts the monster for the second time. When Frankenstein sees the monster his first instinct is to kill it, but the monster is a lot bigger than stronger than him. The monster then tells Frankenstein to listen to what he says and then judge him. This is where the monster tells his story. He says that he came into the world with no understanding of anything around him, like a fully-grown baby. After his confrontation with Frankenstein, he walked out into a park, where he found berries to eat and a stream to drink from. He then moved out into the countryside where he had numerous encounters with humans he’d rather forget about.
Whenever humans saw him, they either ran away or attacked the monster. This upset him, because he did not wish to harm them. Eventually, he found a small ‘hovel’ (small hut) on a farm. It was here he stayed for a long time. He learnt the names of the people who lived on the farm, and also their history, that they were sent out of France by the government because they were planning to free someone from prison. The monster slowly picked up their language of these people and also how to read from old books they threw out. He helped the family by cutting wood for them at night in the winter at night, and generally became quite attracted to the family. After a year and a bit, the monster decided he would confront the family.
This went well at first because firstly he met the old man. This was an advantage to the monster because the old man was blind and couldn’t judge him by his looks. However, when the rest of the family came home they were horrified by the monsters appearance and attacked him. The monster was very upset by this and ran out of the house. He ran out into the forest, and returned the following morning to discover the family rushing to leave the place from the monster. He was so angered by this that he trashed the farm, destroying everything and burning it all.
The monster then set his sights on returning to Geneva. He spent about half a year travelling but eventually got there. When he got there he discovered Frankenstein’s younger brother, William. The monster grabbed the boy, and he started shouting so he tried to silence him by choking him and ended up killing him. The monster found a pendant round the boy’s neck, and out it round a girl who was sleeping nearby, and then ran. It is here the monster concludes his story.