Notes on Characters from Frankenstein

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Frankenstein Major Characters

Robert Walton: Indirect narrator of the story, he tells Victor Frankenstein's story through letters to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton is a self-educated man who set out to reach and explore the North Pole and find an Arctic passage to connect the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. While his ship is locked in ice, his crew sees Frankenstein's monster pass by on a dog sled and Frankenstein himself, exhausted and weakened, not far behind. They take Frankenstein aboard and Walton nurses him and talks with him because he has been longing for a friend. In seeing Walton's raw ambition to explore the North Pole at all costs, Frankenstein is prompted to tell the story of his destruction that a similar ambition brought upon him. After Frankenstein's death and just before the ship heads back to England, Walton is also the last to see the monster before he goes north to kill himself.

Victor Frankenstein: Frankenstein is the eldest son of a wealthy, Genevese man, Alphonse, and his young wife, Caroline. Victor grows up in the perfect family with a happy childhood and a constant and devoted companion in his adopted cousin, Elizabeth. He is sensitive, intelligent, and passionate about his interests and becomes absorbed in the quest to find out what creates life. While away at college in Ingolstadt, Victor creates a being from scavenged corpse parts and gives it life, but is repulsed by its hideousness once it lives. The monster, in retaliation for Victor's negligence, destroys his life by killing off those Victor loves. Victor chases him to the far reaches of the Arctic planning to destroy him and then die to escape his misery and remorse at his creation, but he dies aboard Walton's ship before he can catch the monster.

The Monster: Created by Victor Frankenstein in Ingolstadt, the monster is a conglomeration of human parts with inhuman strength. He is so hideous that Victor, his own creator, cannot stand to look upon him. He is loving and gentle at the beginning of his life, childlike in his curiosity and experiences, but after several harsh encounters with humans, he becomes bitter. He seeks revenge on his creator for making him so hideous and rendering him permanently lonely because of his ugliness. He offers Frankenstein peace in exchange for a companion of like origin, but when Frankenstein does not comply, he vows to destroy him and begins killing off Frankenstein's friends and family -- those figures he most envies because he does not have them. After finding Frankenstein dead aboard Walton's ship, the monster goes further north with plans to destroy himself and end the suffering that Frankenstein began when he created him.

Elizabeth Lavenza: Adopted cousin of Victor Frankenstein. Elizabeth was a beautiful orphan being raised by an Italian peasant family when Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein adopted her. She became Victor's constant companion and he watched over her as if she were his own possession from their meeting when he was 5 years old. Her beauty and kindness made her adored almost reverently by all who knew her, and it was taken for granted that she and Victor would marry. She is the gentling influence and the comforter for the males of the Frankenstein family when Caroline dies, and her beauty and goodness are constant throughout her life. She and Victor are married, but on their wedding night, the monster strangles Elizabeth to punish Victor for not creating for him a companion creature.

Henry Clerval: Life-long friend of Victor Frankenstein, Henry was poetic, sensitive and caring, and their friendship was a strong one. When Victor was in Ingolstadt so long without sending word to his family, Henry relocated there to study and to look after Victor. Henry nursed him through a long period of illness before Victor returned to Geneva. Later they traveled together to England and Scotland, but while they were there, the monster strangled Henry to punish Victor. Victor was accused of the murder, but was acquitted.

Justine Moritz: Servant in the Frankenstein household, Justine was another beautiful, gentle, and kind addition to the Frankenstein family whom Caroline took in to care for and educate. When Caroline got scarlet fever, Justine nursed her, and after Caroline died, Justine returned to her own mother. Her mother too became ill and died, so Justine returned to the Frankenstein home to help raise the two sons Caroline had left when she died. Justine was a grateful and faithful part of their household, but she was accused of 5-year-old William Frankenstein's murder when a locket he had been wearing was found in her dress. Although she had been framed by the monster and was innocent, she was executed and Victor considered her death his fault because he created the monster who framed her.

Alphonse Frankenstein: Victor Frankenstein's father, Alphonse was a wealthy and benevolent man who loved his wife and his children very dearly. He rescued Caroline Beaufort, daughter of his close friend, from poverty after her father's death. He was a doting husband and father bent by the grief of loss after loss until he dies from accumulated sorrow and shock.

Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein: Wife of Alphonse and mother of Victor, Ernest, and William, Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein was the daughter of a once-wealthy friend of Alphonse. Planning to aid his friend, Alphonse found his home and went there only to find Caroline weeping over his coffin. Alphonse took her into his home and married her two years later. They had a loving relationship and cared for their children very much. She was a good, beautiful, and gentle woman adored by all her family until she died from the scarlet fever she contracted nursing Elizabeth back to health.

Minor Characters

Mrs. Margaret Saville: Sister of Robert Walton, ship captain, Mrs. Saville is significant only because she is the recipient of the letters describing Frankenstein's story. Walton writes to her of the progress of his journey and his acquaintance with Frankenstein.

Beaufort: Friend of Alphonse Frankenstein and Caroline's father, Beaufort lost his wealth and relocated to escape the humiliation of his poverty. Caroline nursed him as his health declined and was weeping over his coffin when Alphonse found her and took her back to Geneva.

M. Waldman: Chemistry professor at Ingolstadt. His lectures revive Victor's interest in discovering the spark of life and creation.

Ernest Frankenstein: Victor's brother. Ernest is 7 years younger than Victor and is only mentioned a few times, the longest reference in a letter to Victor from Elizabeth. She mentions that Ernest wants to join the Swiss military.

William Frankenstein: Victor's youngest brother, William is sweet, happy, greatly adored by his family. William is strangled in the woods while the family was out for a walk. His is the first of the monster's victims, and Justine is framed for the murder.

De Lacey Family: Felix, Agatha, and their blind father. This is the family of cottagers near where the monster lives. They are French exiles living in Germany because Felix helped an unjustly imprisoned Turk escape. He watches them and over time learns to speak and read from observing them. The monster becomes attached to them and chops wood for them as well as other small services without revealing himself to them. He craves their acceptance and affection and educates himself further to win them over. When he seeks their affection, however, they are afraid of him and their scorn sends him away. This rejection sends him on a quest to find Victor, his creator, and seek vengeance.

Muhammadan: Turk Felix aided and for whom the De Lacey family was exiled to Germany. Muhammadan was unjustly condemned for reasons of religion and wealth, and Felix helped him escape, falling in love with Muhammadan's daughter, Safie, along the way. Muhammadan promises to allow them to marry, but plans secretly to take Safie back to Turkey with him.

Safie: Daughter of Muhammadan and Arabian Christian woman. Safie falls in love with Felix and doesn't want to return to the oppressive country of her birth. When her father leaves for Turkey with the expectation that she will follow soon after with all of his possessions, she seeks out Felix and lives with him and his family in Germany.

M. Kirwin: Irish magistrate who cares for Victor when he falls ill after being accused of Henry's murder. Kirwin is sympathetic and believes Victor is innocent, so he has a doctor care for Victor while he is imprisoned and also sends for Alphonse.

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