Mary Shelley's Novel "Frankenstein" (2023)


Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein is a novel that has been a classic for two centuries and is still one of the most popular books for movie adaptations, theater plays, and other artistic manifestations correlating with the original plot. Multiple films have captured the original idea of scientific exploration of human limitation and the creation of life, including the 1931 Frankenstein directed by James Whale and the 1935 sequel Bride of Frankenstein. Frankenstein touches upon multiple fascinating topics, including the human desire to overcome the limitations of being mortal, science as something incompatible with nature, and humanity in its aim to control life itself.

(Video) Frankenstein [Full Audiobook] by Mary Shelley


The first thing that is to mention about the setting of Frankenstein is the era in which the events take place. It was set in the 18th century, an era in which a certain class of people started moving away from religious teachings into a more scientific approach to life (Shelley 2). Thus, the era implies that the sanctity of life that was thought to be given by a higher power would impose a level of skepticism of scientists trying to deny any explanations involving a supernatural power. Moreover, trying to recreate life from something dead, which is how Frankenstein was brought to life, would mean that humans are able to do the impossible, hence becoming Gods. The 18th century fits the paradigm of the book and movies in terms of the human desire to break the rules established by the church and prove that God is not the answer to everything. In case a mortal is able to produce life from something dead, the whole religious paradigm that was prevalent at the time would become redundant.


As mentioned prior, Frankenstein as a character has remained relevant to this day despite the fact that the novel was published more than 200 years ago. There are multiple reasons that can explain why individuals are still interested in movies, plays, music, and other artistic expressions correlating with the book. First, humanity is still trying to combat the limitations of mortality, and Frankenstein illustrated this desire perfectly. Thus, the symbolism remains relevant as people have not gotten closer to solving the mystery of creating life from something that is lifeless, an aim that the scientist from Frankenstein managed to fulfill.

Moreover, the creature that has been created through human flesh turned out to be a monster, which exemplifies the flawed human nature. The symbol is one of the key illustrations of humanity in most classic and current literature and films, which also exemplifies the reason why it remains influential. The two centuries that have passed since the publishing of the novel have not been particularly revolutionary in terms of basic scientific aims and human desires to avoid limitations imposed by nature. This means that such topics are still relevant and will remain until the answers to these questions are found.

(Video) Video SparkNotes: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein summary

Artificial Man. Science Conquers Nature

The idea of an artificial human being constructed from the body parts of other people is the driving point exemplified in Frankenstein. However, there are several factors to be considered regarding this topic. First, the artificial man is a caricature of human nature as he has a brain yet no life experience and only operates based on instincts or surroundings. Thus, as humans intimidate him by threatening to light Frankenstein on fire, he is aggressive, while a girl playfully engaging in a game with him drowns by accident, implying the monster’s actions are not merely evil (Whale, Frankenstein). It is also critical to refer to the fact that Frankenstein is artificial due to the science and nature confrontation. As mentioned prior, science is the symbol of the conquering of the phenomenon that people used to attribute to supernatural powers.

In this case, the scientist is God who creates life, yet the scientific approach did not value the morality of the action of creating the creature. Thus, the aim to contribute to Frankenstein’s presence did not imply the consideration of being the only creature of this nature in the world, not being able to integrate, and not having any experience while enduring a life of an outcast. This is exemplified in the film Bride of Frankenstein when a blind man who could not see the creature was able to teach him about friendship (Whale). This illustrates that while science may have been effective in creating life, the lack of consciousness and ethics made the monster a loner who does not have the coping mechanisms to survive. Nature, however, implies that the child is born and goes through multiple stages in which they learn how to interact, love, respect, and behave, while an adult who just began existing does not have such an overview of the complexity of the world.

Science vs. Natural Ecology

Science and natural ecology are also two opposing factors based on the novel and the subsequent movies. Thus, science is portrayed as something logical, heartless, and prone to a disregard for human emotions. The scientists’ experiments were purely reliant on the aim to minimize human limitations, and an ethical approach would imply certain limitations when it comes to the objectives and the measures taken to fulfill them. Natural ecology, on the other hand, is a system in which all organisms have a place and interact with each other and with the environment where they belong. Based on this principle, people go through certain life experiences, are able to appreciate other individuals surrounding them, and have a place in the world. Frankenstein, an outcome of a scientific experiment, was the odd one out due to the fact that by definition, he is not a part of this world, which already suggests a critical limitation of interactions. Something that was not supposed to exist cannot become a part of a world in which its presence is a result of human manipulation and not a given.

(Video) Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Complete Audiobook

Alien Life Forms

Frankenstein can be considered an alien life form despite the fact that he consists of the body parts of other humans. Thus, the topic of dealing with life forms foreign to humans is a major topic. In this case, Frankenstein is an alien life form because the monster was brought into the world through an experiment, which already implies that the scientist is responsible for creating him. However, the interactions between Frankenstein and humans have been mainly negative, which ultimately gave him the idea that he does not belong and is to behave aggressively since aggression is always directed towards him. On the other hand, when being treated with dignity, as exemplified prior, he is not necessarily a threat. This implies that treating someone differently with a level of respect and kindness creates mutuality in which even a monster can show themselves from a better side.


Frankenstein as a character is a portrayal of the human desire to overcome the limitations correlating with the natural way of life. Thus, the creation of a monster is the exemplification of a person becoming God and having control over life. Not only that the creature is a caricature of humanity, but also the fact that he was not accepted and has experienced violence before showing negative intentions illustrate that science and ethics do not always have the same goals.

Works Cited

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Planet eBook, 1818. Planet eBook. Web.

(Video) Great Books: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

Whale, James, director. Bride of Frankenstein. Universal Pictures, 1935.

Whale, James, director. Frankenstein. Universal Pictures, 1931.


What is the story Frankenstein by Mary Shelley about? ›

Shelley's novel, Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus (1818), is a combination of Gothic horror story and science fiction. The book tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss student of natural science who creates an artificial man from pieces of corpses and brings his creature to life.

What is the main message of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein? ›

The main message that Frankenstein conveys is the danger in the pursuit of knowledge and advancement in Science and Technology. In the novel we see Victor try to push forward the limits of science by creating a creature from old body parts. The creation of the creature backfired on Victor once the monster escaped.

Why is Frankenstein so important? ›

Frankenstein is not only the first creation story to use scientific experimentation as its method, but it also presents a framework for narratively examining the morality and ethics of the experiment and experimenter.

What happens at the end of Frankenstein? ›

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.

What does Frankenstein's monster symbolize? ›

The monster represents the conscience created by Victor, the ego of Victor's personality — the psyche which experiences the external world, or reality, through the senses, that organizes the thought processes rationally, and that governs action.

Why did Frankenstein create the monster? ›

Victor creates the monster in hopes of achieving glory and remembrance through his contributions to scientific advancement. However, he does not ever consider the many implications involved with the creation of life.

What are two major themes in Frankenstein? ›

Frankenstein, by English author Mary Shelley, tells the story of a monster created by a scientist and explores themes of life, death, and man versus nature.

Why is the story Frankenstein still relevant today? ›

Throughout the story, Shelley addresses injustices, tragedies of birth, class and race all through the creation of a nameless monster, said Smart — allowing the modern reader to find relevancy to today's world. “This novel applies to science, of course, but not just science,” said Smart.

Why is Frankenstein's monster green? ›

Pierce's decision to paint Karloff's skin a greyish green was a conscious choice to play on these limitations, distinguishing the monster from the rest of the cast by giving him a skin color that would be captured as a ghostly white on film.

Is Frankenstein a sad story? ›

As it turned out, this isn't a horror novel. Instead, it's a very human and very sad story about characters who for one reason or another are doomed to a miserable destiny. Mary Shelley was only 18 years old, when she began writing Frankenstein.

Who killed Victor in Frankenstein? ›

Victor Frankenstein travels to the Arctic icy waters in an attempt to escape from the monster he created. The weather conditions become dangerous when the ship goes North. Victor falls sick with pneumonia, and his health worsens. Soon after the boat reaches the land, he dies.

What does Walton do after Victor dies? ›

What does Walton do after Victor dies? He continues toward the North Pole.

Who is the villain in Frankenstein? ›

The Monster is Frankenstein's antagonist. He thwarts Frankenstein's goal both by what he does and what he is.

Why did Victor abandon the creature? ›

While Victor initially created the creature to resolve the neglect he received as a child, his over-ambitiousness ultimately prevents him from empathizing with his creation, so he subsequently abandons it. Furthermore, Victor abandons his creation because of his realization of what the creature personifies.

Why did Frankenstein's monster turn evil? ›

The Monster turns to evil after being cast out from his "family." Frankenstein has caused evil, in part, because, "In his obsession, Frankenstein has cut himself off from his family and from the human community; in his reaction to that obsession, Frankenstein cuts himself off from his creation" (Levine 92).

What did Frankenstein's monster name himself? ›

Mary Shelley's original novel never gives the monster a name, although when speaking to his creator, Victor Frankenstein, the monster does say "I ought to be thy Adam" (in reference to the first man created in the Bible).

Why did Victor destroy the female creature? ›

Why does Frankenstein destroy the Monster's female companion? Frankenstein decides that he has a moral duty to destroy the female companion he is making for the Monster. He realizes that even if the Monster is not innately evil, he can't be sure the female companion won't turn out to be evil.

Why does the monster want revenge? ›

But after it is abandoned and mistreated first by Victor and then by the De Lacey family, the monster turns to revenge. The monster's actions are understandable: it has been hurt by the unfair rejection of a humanity that cannot see past its own prejudices, and in turn wants to hurt those who hurt it.

What happens to the creature at the end of the novel? ›

The Creature tells Walton about his loneliness and unhappiness due to Victor's death. He vanishes into the Arctic wastelands with Frankenstein's body telling about the intent to kill himself. After that, no one sees them ever again.

What is the main conflict in Frankenstein? ›

The major conflict in Frankenstein revolves around Victor's inability to understand that his actions have repercussions. Victor focuses solely on his own goals and fails to see how his actions might impact other individuals.

What is the meaning of Frankenstein? ›

What does Frankenstein mean? In German, the name Frankenstein translates to “stronghold of freemen,” most likely referring to various castles and battlements around the country that also carry the name. Mary Shelley however, believed the name came to her in a vivid dream. In Shelley's novel, Dr.

Who are the 3 main characters in Frankenstein? ›

Character List
  • Victor Frankenstein Creator of the monster. ...
  • The monster The creature created by Victor Frankenstein while at the University of Ingolstadt. ...
  • Henry Clerval Victor's best friend who helps Victor in his time of need.


1. “Mothering Monsters: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein” by Anne K. Mellor
(Department of English, Arizona State University)
2. Frankenstein - full audiobook with rolling text - by Mary Shelley
(Michael Davis)
3. FRANKENSTEIN - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Unabridged Audiobook 1831 Edition - FabAudioBooks
(Fab Audio Books)
4. FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley - FULL AudioBook 🎧📖 Greatest🌟AudioBooks | Horror Suspense Thriller
(Greatest AudioBooks)
5. The Sunday Penguin: Frankenstein: The 1818 Text by Mary Shelley
(Michael K. Vaughan)
6. How to Read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (10 Tips)
(Benjamin McEvoy)


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