Title and Publication:

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

Published by Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones in London on January 1, 1818.


Mary Shelley was born in London, but developed the story of Frankenstein while on a summer trip to Switzerland in 1816, She was traveling with her then married lover, Percy Bysshe Shelley. Shortly after this trip, Percy Shelley's pregnant wife committed suicide.

Mary and Percy later married, but Mary's life was marked by death and tragedy.


The story begins in the icy northern waters where a captain is traveling to the North Pole. Events take place throughout Europe, in Scotland, England, and Switzerland.


Victor Frankenstein: The Swiss chemist who creates the monster.

Robert Walten: The sea captain who rescues Victor from the ice.

The Monster: The ugly creation of Frankenstein, who searches for companionship and love throughout the story.

William: Victor's brother. The monster murders William to punish Victor and sets the stage for more tragedy and torment for Victor.

Justine Moritz: Adopted and loved by the Frankenstein family, Justine was convicted and executed for killing William.


Rescued by the sea captain, Frankenstein relays events that begin as he pieces together a man using old body parts. Once he manages to create the horrible life, however, Frankenstein regrets his action immediately and flees his home.

When he returns, he finds the monster is gone. Shortly after, Frankenstein hears that his brother has been murdered. A series of tragic events follow, as the monster searches for love and Frankenstein suffers the consequences of his immoral act.

Possible Themes:

Think about these questions and points as you read the book.

They will help you determine a theme and develop a strong thesis.

Search for love: This theme reflects a strong theme in Shelley's own life. The monster knows he is horrid and will never be loved, although he attempts to find love several times. He is constantly rejected and disappointed. Frankenstein, himself, searches for happiness through love, but he meets with tragic loss of several loves.

Tragic, weak women: Frankenstein actually begins to make a second female monster, to provide companionship for his own first creation, but he then destoys it and dumps the remains in a lake. Frankenstein's wife dies tragically, as does the accused Justine.