Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus

An Overview

Here follows an educational tutorial to present 'Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus' efficiently, through the explanation of the title, the sources of inspiration, the circumstances of its composition, its structure and plot, its characters.

Genre, settings, point of view and narrative techniques and themes in 'Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus'


"Frankenstein" is not merely a novel but a multi-layered story. It is

- a novel of purpose,

- a Gothic novel and

- a philosophical tale.

The theme of ethics in Science brings us immediately into a novel of purpose. Mary Shelley's novel is about facing the responsibilities and the consequences of scientific discoveries.

To explore the Gothic aspects of the novel we must unveil the presence of a secret lab, eerie settings, a monster, and a young lady persecuted by an evil human being —a plethora of elements characteristic of the genre.

However, "Frankenstein" goes beyond the expected; it also emerges as a philosophical tale as it raises concerns about the ethics of science, the duties of a creator/scientist and the place of the human being in the universe.

In addition to the layers explored earlier, the novel take us into the mythological dimension of the novel, as the subtitle indicates:

'Frankenstein' stretch beyond the original context of the Prometheus myth. The novel also resonates with the stylistic conventions of the Romantic era.

We can even go deeper: the monster, Prometheus (from Percy Bysshe Shelley's lyrical drama) and the moody characters created by Lord Byron might be compared. Here, two viewpoints emerge:

On the one hand the author develops a modern Prometheus, Dr. Frankenstein who is essentially a more advanced version of Faust with Byronic qualities, motivated by a desire to rule matter like a god and transcend human limitations.

On the other hand the monster is presented as the scientific equivalent of Shelley's Prometheus and, like Byron's gloomy heroes, reflects Romantic fears about social isolation.

We believe that this complex network of connections transforms "Frankenstein" from a fiction into a myth, offering a captivating examination of universal themes.


The story unfolds in various locations that significantly shape the characters' experiences:

1. Geneva, Switzerland: This is where Victor's early life takes place, providing a crucial backdrop to his development.

2. Ingolstadt, Germany: This becomes the focal point for Victor's scientific pursuits, leading to the creation of the mysterious, unnamed creature.

3. The Swiss Alps: These mountains symbolize the emotional challenges faced by the characters.

4. Scotland: The creature's quest for companionship and the ensuing conflict with Victor occur against the landscapes of Switzerland and Scotland . This setting underscores themes of isolation and the profound consequences of social rejection.

The narrative spans late 18th to early 19th-century Europe, capturing a period marked by significant scientific and cultural transformations.

Point of View and Narrative Techniques:

The novel is told from Victor Frankenstein's perspective, offering readers deep insights into his motivations and inner turmoil. However, Mary Shelley employs multiple narrators enriching the exploration of characters' motivations and perspectives.

One of the most distintive narrative techniques in "Frankenstein," is the frame structure that the narrative to unfold within a well-defined framework. Picture it as a series of narrative Russian dolls, with the outermost layer being the exchange of letters between Captain Walton and his sister. Through this epistolary correspondence, Captain Walton recounts Victor Frankenstein's narrative, who, in turn, unveils the creature's story.

This approach offers a multi-faceted exploration, bringing forth various perspectives and voices that emphasize main themes like isolation and the dangers of unchecked ambition.


Unchecked Ambition and Learning: In "Frankenstein," the story warns about the dangers of going too far in scientific pursuits, as shown when Victor Frankenstein creates the monster.

Nature and Romanticism:The book portrays nature as a strong force and warns against interfering with it.

Isolation and Alienation: Both Victor Frankenstein and the monster feel very lonely and left out, showing how being disconnected from others can be harmful.

Revenge and Monstrosity: A prominent theme, revenge drives the narrative as the monster seeks retribution against Victor for the suffering and rejection he endures.

Family and Society: "Frankenstein"is about how having a family and connections in society is crucial, and how not having them can be harmful.

Lost Innocence: The novel portrays how Victor Frankenstein loses his innocence in a tragic way.

The Double: The central duality in "Frankenstein" revolves around Victor Frankenstein and his creation, the Monster. At first, Victor views himself as a well-intentioned creator, but the Monster becomes a dark reflection of his unrestrained ambitions. This duality underscores the ethical consequences of playing the role of a creator, where the Monster embodies the darker repercussions of Victor's scientific endeavours. The dichotomy creator/creation underscores Victor's internal struggle as he confronts the monstrous consequences of his choices.

We hope this comprehensive overview provides you with a solid foundation to delve deeper into the novel.

LnT suggests

LnT Official Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch as the creature | Free National Theatre Full Play:

LnTConducting thorough research on the sources of inspiration is a crucial step before presenting a literary work. In this context, here is a concise video that not only sheds light on the materials utilized in the creation of Frankenstein but also showcases maps crafted by one of my students. This video provides valuable insights into the creative process behind the literary piece. It also includes a brief biography of the author

LnT There is an interesting list of must-read classic books rated by Penguin Books UK.

Frankenstein is ranked twentieth.