Frankenstein
Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein Plot Analysis

Most good stories start with a fundamental list of ingredients: the initial situation, conflict, complication, climax, suspense, denouement, and conclusion. Great writers sometimes shake up the recipe and add some spice.

Initial Situation

Sister Wives

Victor and his family are content, happy-go-lucky, adopting-future-wives-as-sisters kind of people. This is super boring. We sure hope something happens soon. Something like a conflict.

Conflict

The Sixth Stage of Grief

Since we've already established that Victor is a little obsessive, we're not too surprised when we find out that his way of grieving his mother's death is to get obsessed with death and to bring something deador, rather, a compilation of many dead somethingsback to life.

Surprisingly, achieving that goal is not really the conflict, since Victor manages it fairly easily. The real problem is that the monster is really, really, ridiculously ugly and Victor suddenly realizes that he probably shouldn't have played God. He runs off and leaves his creation to—well, we're not sure what he expected. He doesn't seem too good at the long-range planning, this one.

Complication

All By Myself

Victor's monster is out of control, which definitely complicates matters. But it gets even more complicated when we actually get a look-see into the monster's mind and realize that he's not exactly the murderous monster we thought he was. Well, he is—but only because everyone hates him.

Climax

Monster Overboard

After listening to the monster's sob story (and threats), Victor has agreed to make him a mate—but then he changes his mind and destroys the she-monster. Please note that this is the only place in the text where he takes decisive action instead of sitting around whining about how fate is running its course. Unfortunately, his decision just sets in motion the final stages of his self-destruction.

Suspense

Tonight, Tonight

When the monster promises to be with Victor on his wedding night, we know that he means he's going to kill Elizabeth, but Victor thinks the monster is going to kill him. This dramatic irony brings about the most suspenseful part of the book, as we wait to see whether (1) Victor figures it out in time or (2) Elizabeth dies a gruesome death. You get two guesses.

Denouement

Murder and Mayhem

Things get wrapped up, but not in a happy way. Everyone dies, which is an efficient but  depressing way to tie up loose ends. Victor's vow to kill the monster counts as denouement and NOT suspense, we think, because we didn't sit around with our hearts racing wondering if he was going to succeed or not. Maybe it's the way he said it, the sort of "I'm going to spend the rest of my life" bit. It suggests that nothing concrete is going to be happening any time soon. So don't hold your breath.

Conclusion

Mutually Assured Destruction

Victor and the monster both die. Walton—we think this is key—decides to head home with his sailors instead of continuing on his suicide mission to the North Pole, which just might mean he's learned something from Victor's story about the limits of scientific inquiry.

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