Frankenstein was written during the Industrial Revolution, a period of scientific advancement and progress that completely transformed society. The novel reflects anxieties about the nature of scientific discovery and suggests scientific enlightenment has a chaotic side and doesn't always transform society for the better.
These anxieties are reflected in Victor Frankenstein’s journey. Driven by ambition, Victor studies at the University of Ingolstadt to discover the secret to life. He then harnesses this power in order to create a “new and noble” race. However, Victor’s manipulation of science is a total failure, and only leads to chaos. Victor, horrified by his Monster’s appearance, immediately abandons his creation. Although the monster is good-hearted, his terrible appearance causes others to continually react to him with fright and violence. Embittered, the monster becomes a vengeful criminal.
The novel begins in St. Petersburg, Russia where Robert Walton waits before setting forth on his journey to the North Pole. As Victor Frankenstein recounts his story and past, the novel spans England, Switzerland, France, Scotland, Italy, Ireland, and Germany. Geneva, Switzerland is where Victor Frankenstein is born as well as where the rest of his family and wife reside. Germany is where Victor enrolls in university and creates the Monster.