Study Guide

Frankenstein Themes

By Mary Shelley

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Life, Consciousness, and Existence






Language and Communication

Compassion and Forgiveness


Lies and Deceit


Fate and Free Will


Frankenstein was created by Mary Shelley in 1818 and tells the tale of a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who seeks to create life from death. After becoming successful in his pursuits, he is faced with the difficult choice of whether the monstrous creature he constructed is worthy of love and companionship, as well as life itself.

Ultimately, Victor abandons his creation, whom he deems a failure. This scenario introduces the first few Frankenstein themes and arguably the most prevalent: familial responsibility, connection to others, and individuals’ appearances.

Understanding Themes for Frankenstein

In addition to family, connection, and appearances, Frankenstein’s themes also cover language and communication, sacrifice, revenge, and life and science. Shelley also purveys the incredibly important notion that monsters and criminals are conditioned based on the reactions and treatment they receive from society.

What are your thoughts on Shelley’s interpretation of character and physical appearance? To learn more about these themes in Frankenstein, visit the individual chapters and tabs on the left.

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