Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.
- Full Title: Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus
- When Published: 1818
- Literary Period: Switzerland and London, England: 1816–1817
- Genre: Gothic novel
- Setting: Switzerland, France, England, Scotland, and the North Pole in the 18th century
- Climax: The Monster's murder of Elizabeth Lavenza on her wedding night to Victor
- Antagonist: The Monster
- Point of View: Frankenstein is told through a few layers of first person narratives. Walton is the primary narrator, who then recounts Victor's first-person narrative. In addition, Victor's narrative contains the monster's first person story as well as letters from other characters.
A ghost story. On a stormy night in June of 1816, Mary Shelley, her husband, and a few other companions, including the Romantic poet Lord Byron, decided to try to write their own ghost stories, but Shelley couldn't come up with any ideas. A few nights later, she had a dream in which she envisioned "the pale student of unhallowed arts" kneeling beside his creation—the monster. She began writing the story that became Frankenstein the next morning.
The Tale of Two Frankensteins. Shelley published the first edition of Frankenstein anonymously, perhaps due to her concern that such a grim and violent tale would not be well received by her audience if they knew her gender. She revised the novel and published it under her real name in 1831. Some key differences exist between the editions, namely that in the first edition, Elizabeth is Alphonse's niece and, therefore, Victor's cousin. (In the 1831 edition, the more popular version and the one used in this Outline, the Frankensteins adopt Elizabeth from another family).