Frankenstein is narrated by Robert Walton who is the captain of a ship headed as far North as possible in search of scientific glory. Walton writes letters to his sister detailing his trip. The letters soon become the story as Walton’s ship becomes stuck in the arctic ice. While stuck in the ice Walton’s men see a gigantic human figure traveling North by dogsled. The next day they find the unconscious body of Dr. Victor Frankenstein floating on a large piece of ice. Victor Frankenstein regains consciousness and tells his story to Walton.
Dr. Frankenstein was from prominent family in Geneva, Switzerland. He had always been interested in natural philosophy and the supernatural. His family adopted his orphaned cousin Elizabeth Lavenza, of whom Victor is very fond. Victor spends his childhood on adventures with Elizabeth and his best friend Henry Clerval. Victor also has a younger brother named William and another adopted sister by the name of Justine Moritz. Victor’s parents are Alphonse Frankenstein and Caroline Beaufort.
At age seventeen, Victor leaves for the University of Ingolstadt to pursue his passions in natural philosophy. When he leaves, his mother, Caroline, dies from scarlet fever. Victor’s adopted sister Elizabeth had infected Caroline with the disease. At Ingolstadt professors dissuade Victor from natural philosophy and urge him to pursue chemistry, physiology and anatomy instead. Soon Victor’s dreams of the supernatural merge with science and he isolates himself for nearly a year in pursuit of creating life.
Victor successfully creates a creature that resembles a magnificent human. It is much bigger than humans with perfect muscles and long black hair. Immediately, Victor is repulsed by his creation and flees his lab. Henry, Victor’s childhood friend arrives just in time to take care of Victor who had become incredibly sickly and unhealthy while he created the monster. Victor returns home with Henry and puts the Monster out of his mind. In the meantime the Monster lives outside an isolated cottage where the De Lacey family lives, unbeknownst to the De Laceys.
In his time outside their cottage, the Monster learns to speak, read, and write. The Monster reads Plutarch’s Lives and Milton’s Paradise Lost. He builds up the courage and goes into the cottage to introduce himself to the blind old man who is the De Lacey family patriarch. The man’s children Felix and Agatha come home to find the Monster and like everyone else are repulsed. The Monster decides to curse his creator and wants to know why he has to be alone in a world he did not ask to be in. He sets out to find Victor to understand why he was created. The Monster goes on to kill Victor’s brother William, his childhood friend Henry and Elizabeth Lavenza on the eve of her wedding to Victor. The Monster kills Elizabeth because Victor will not create a wife for the Monster.
After his family has been killed by his own creation, Victor abandons his life and chases the Monster North. This is why the two run into Captain Robert Walton in the Arctic. Dr. Frankenstein dies on the ship and the next night the Monster appears to see his creator dead. He bemoans the fact Victor ever created him and then disappears into the night.