This article by Custom-Writing.org experts contains all you need to know about the summary of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein: a plot infographic, a short summary, and a detailed description of the novel’s chapters.
❗ Frankenstein: Plot Summary
Mary Shelley’s most famous novel is Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. It tells the tragic story of a scientist. Young and gifted Victor Frankenstein achieved the impossible – he created a being and brought it life. But this creature was never meant to become perfect. It turns out to be of a horrific appearance, and Victor, as well as the whole world, rejects it.
📈 Frankenstein: Timeline
Below you’ll find an infographic that contains the timeline of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.
📗 Frankenstein: Book Summary (Detailed)
Let’s divide this detailed Frankenstein book summary into sections for better understanding.
Frankenstein, Letters 1-4: Walton, the Captain
The plot of Frankenstein begins with Robert Walton. He is a ship captain who leads the North Pole‘s dangerous mission. Walton writes multiple letters addressed to his sitter. The expedition’s purpose is to discover the new path to the Pacific or, at least, to see the undiscovered lands.
In the following letters, Walton tells a story of how he meets Victor Frankenstein.
One day the ship is trapped in the walls of ice. The captain finds Frankenstein, who is traveling by sled with dogs. He takes the man on board and helps him get better.
The stranger has gradually improved in health but is very silent and appears uneasy when anyone except myself enters his cabin… For my own part, I begin to love him as a brother, and his constant and deep grief fills me with sympathy and compassion. He must have been a noble creature in his better days, being even now in wreck so attractive and amiable.Frankenstein,
It takes a couple of days for Victor to start speaking. He becomes friends with the captain and one day decides to open a secret. That is when Victor begins his incredible tale of his monster.
Frankenstein, Chapters 1-2: The Youth of Victor
Here, the plot goes away from Walton’s letters for a while, and Victor takes the narrator’s place. He starts with his background and family.
Little Victor lives in Geneva, Switzerland. His parents, Alphonse and Caroline, are charming people who create the safest environment for their children to flourish. Two younger brothers and Victor spend blissful time there.
Their mother also takes home an orphan girl, Elizabeth Lavenza. Young Frankenstein gets to bond with her.
The saintly soul of Elizabeth shone like a shrine-dedicated lamp in our peaceful home. Her sympathy was ours; her smile, her soft voice, the sweet glance of her celestial eyes, were ever there to bless and animate us. She was the living spirit of love to soften and attract…Frankenstein,
In the original version of the novel, Elizabeth is Victor’s cousin. However, in the later version, she appears to be a girl Caroline found during her trip to Italy. Elizabeth was a little beautiful blond girl who was standing out among Italian kids. Caroline adopted her and brought her back to Switzerland.
The boy is also curious and shows a particular interest in everything related to science. He is keen on the works of alchemists and fascinated by the power of nature. A natural philosopher, a family friend, feeds Victor’s curiosity with explanations of the electricity.
Already then, the reader can get a sense of a tragedy approaching. After being ill, his mother dies one day. Her last wish is for Elizabeth and Victor to get married in the future.
Despite all the pure and sweet memories of his blissful childhood, Victor says that misery and tragedy follow every event in his life.
Frankenstein, Chapters 3-5: Discovering the Secret of Life
Victor enters the University of Ingolstadt. Here, his fascination with the secrets of life grows even stronger. He is convinced that he can create a living human being and spends two years trying to achieve it. All his friends and family are worried about him, but he turns his back on them.
In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation; my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment.Frankenstein,
In this part of the story, Frankenstein finally produces a living creature. But it is no perfect man he hoped it would be. Created from the pieces of bodies taken from the graveyards, it is monstrous. Victor is horrified by its looks, and he decides to abandon it, hoping it would die.
Frankenstein, Chapters 6-9: The Death is Near
Victor is torn apart by the sorrow about his awful act against nature. He can’t sleep. All that comes to him in the night are nightmares. As he wakes up, the creature stands near his bed. Victor is terrified and runs out to the streets.
There he finds Henry Clerval. Together, they go back to Victor’s place, but the monster is gone. Frankenstein gets very sick, but Henry, as his best friend, takes care of him.
He decides to go back home to Geneva after traveling to Italy with Henry. Then, there is a horrifying turn of events in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein summary. The news about the tragic murder of William, the youngest brother of Victor, reaches them.
At first, the servant of the Frankenstein family is suspected. However, when Victor arrives home, he notices the monster near the scene of the murder. It makes him convinced that his creature is guilty of his brother’s death.
I clasped my hands, and exclaimed aloud, “William, dear angel! this is thy funeral, this thy dirge!” As I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a clump of trees near me… its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon, to whom I had given life… the murderer of my brother.Frankenstein,
Justine Moritz, a servant, is an obviously innocent kind girl. However, he is found guilty and executed. In despair, Victor realizes that those two innocent souls are on his hands as the result of his ambitions.
Frankenstein, Chapters 10-16: The Story of the Creature
Then, the timeline of this Frankenstein’s synopsis proceeds to the events happening in the Alps. Victor, taking some days off in the mountains, meets the Monster. Surprisingly enough, it can talk now.
Believe me, Frankenstein, I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity; but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me… The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge.Frankenstein,
The Monster then tells Frankenstein his story. It appears that he was hiding near the family of De Lacey. As they were giving lessons to a foreign visitor, the Monster was learning from them as well. He got to know the language, history, culture, and religion.
To pay the family back, he was taking care of some of the chores in secret. Finally, when he decided to come out, they were horrified by him. The Monster had to run away again. It happened over and over again with everyone he met.
One time he noticed a little girl who accidentally got into the stream and was about to drown. The Monster rushed to save her. As soon as he rescued her, the guy who was with the girl thought that the Monster hurt her and shot him.
As he swore to revenge all the people in the world and especially his creator, the creature met Victor’s brother. The creature then admits that as he was blinded by rage, he murdered William.
He explains that it was the act of despair. He was lonely and tried to hurt Victor with the murder. Frankenstein is responsible for his miserable life. The Monster then begs for the creation of a partner for him.
You must create a female for me with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do, and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse to concede.Frankenstein,
At first, Victor feels disgusted by the idea of creating another creature, and he refuses. However, the Monster appears to be quite persuasive. At last, Victor gives up and agrees just to protect his family from the other possible tragedies.
Frankenstein, Chapters 17-20: The Lady Monster
By this time, all the main characters are restless and hesitant due to the tragic death. However, this short summary of Frankenstein is not done with the horrors and heartbreaking losses.
Victor’s father is worried about his state. He asks about the reasons for his troubled spirits. What if it is about his marriage with Elizabeth? However, Victor quickly reassures Alphonse that it is the only piece of happiness in his life. But he rejects the offer to celebrate their union right away. He still has unfinished business with the Monster.
For myself, there was one reward I promised myself from my detested toils–one consolation for my unparalleled sufferings; it was the prospect of that day when, enfranchised from my miserable slavery, I might claim Elizabeth and forget the past in my union with her.Frankenstein,
Frankenstein decides to keep everything secret and doesn’t tell Henry the purpose of their travel to Britain. The real aim of it is to gather more information, which can let him create the second monster.
Upon arrival, Victor leaves his friend in Scotland and goes to the Orkney Islands. There he isolates himself on a remote island where no one can disturb him. He starts working, but this act bothers him deeply.
One night, he realizes how immoral his actions are. Frankenstein looks out of the window and sees the Monster, who stares back at him with a horrifying smile on his face. Victor can’t take another burden like this and decides to get rid of the second project.
The Monster, who followed the poor guy, is enraged. He promises revenge and swears to Victor:
I shall be with you on your wedding-night.Frankenstein,
The same night, Frankenstein takes a boat and goes to the lake. There, in the depths of the water, the parts of the second creature find peace. Victor’s boat, however, is picked up by the wind. Now, he can’t go back to the island where he started everything.
The next morning, the boat appears near the shore of an unknown city. The very same moment when Victor gets out of the boat and steps on the land, the police arrest him. He is to be tried for a murder that happened the previous night.
Of course, Frankenstein doesn’t have a clue about any events of last night. Nevertheless, when he sees the body, it strikes him. Henry Clerval’s body is just in front of him, and he can clearly see the marks of the huge Monster’s hand on his neck.
The man can only take so much, and Victor’s health gives up once again. He is sick and rambling through the fever. For now, he is kept in prison. However, upon recovery, all the charges are dropped, and he leaves the prison.
Frankenstein, Chapters 21-23: The Wedding Night
If one talks about the book’s main turning points, this one is possibly the most important one. Writing an analysis of this novel, try to pay close attention to this chapter.
Together with his father, Victor returns home to Geneva. He marries Elizabeth, just like his mother wished for.
I love Elizabeth and look forward to our union with delight. Let the day therefore be fixed; and on it I will consecrate myself, in life or death, to the happiness of my cousin.Frankenstein,
But some doubts and fears don’t let him enjoy the happiest day of his life.
The couple is about to leave for their honeymoon. Frankenstein remembers the threat of the Monster and suspects that he will be killed that night. Therefore, he asks his wife to go and wait for him a bit away.
Ready to meet his creation, Victor suddenly hears Elizabeth screaming. The awful realization strikes him: The Monster didn’t mean to kill him but his new bride when he promised to be there
I escaped from them to the room where lay the body of Elizabeth, my love, my wife, so lately living, so dear, so worthy. She had been moved from the posture in which I had first beheld her, and now, as she lay, her head upon her arm and a handkerchief thrown across her face and neck, I might have supposed her asleep.Frankenstein,
Elizabeth is dead, and Victor goes back to his father and tells him everything as it is. His old father’s heart can’t take it, and his grief takes his life away shortly afterward.
Frankenstein loses his mind entirely and goes through a mental breakdown. As soon as he gets better, he tells the short version of the story to a magistrate. Sadly enough, no one takes any action. Obviously, the magistrate doesn’t believe that a mysterious monster is responsible for the deaths.
Frankenstein, Chapter 24: Catching up
At this point, the themes change a little bit. Victor dedicates his life to finding his creation and destroying him.
There is nothing left of Frankenstein’s family now. He follows all the slightest hints that look more like taunts that the Monster leaves for several months. Tired and angry, Victor goes to the North.
They were dead, and I lived; their murderer also lived, and to destroy him I must drag out my weary existence.Frankenstein,
Using the help of a dogsled, he almost catches the creature. But then, nature itself stands up between them. The ice breaks, and Victor can’t get around the gap. It is the moment when he is found by the ship. The summary of his story catches up with Walton’s letters to his sister.
Frankenstein: Walton, in Continuation
At this point in Frankenstein’s summary, the structure of the novel goes back to the letter Walton writes to his sister.
The captain tells her that he believes the young man’s story. Moreover, he becomes quite fond of him and regrets that he didn’t have a chance to know Victor in better days. Meanwhile, Frankenstein is on the edge of dying.
One day, a member of the ship’s crew comes to Walton. He begs the captain to make a promise. As soon as they break out of the ice trap, they want to go back to Britain. The ship has been stuck there ever since the night they saw the Monster.
Victor, however, decides to give a motivational speech. He talks about how honorable it is to be on such a quest and that achieving the goal is more than worth it. Everybody is touched and inspired by his words.
But it only lasted for a few days. The crew tries to persuade Walton again, who finally agrees to come up with the plan of return. Then, the ship is ready to go back to England, and just before that, Victor passes away.
A couple of days later, Walton notices some strange noise that appears to be coming from the room where they left Victor’s body. As he enters, he is shocked to see the Monster, just as horrifying as described, holding his creator’s body and shedding tears over it.
The creature starts telling Walton about his sufferings. He becomes quite self-pitiful and says:
I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.Frankenstein: Walton.
However, then his weeping turns into regret. The Monster is sorry that he has done such evil things. Now, since his creator does not live anymore, he can die, too. With those words, he disembarks and disappears into the darkness.
We hope that the above summary of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is useful. If you want to be fully aware of the true meaning of the story, you should check out Themes & Symbols sections. And if you’re looking for exciting essay ideas on the story, please read this article.