Victor Frankenstein

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Dr. Victor Henry Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus character
Created byMary Shelley
Portrayed byColin Clive
Peter Cushing
Ralph Bates
Kenneth Branagh
Benedict Cumberbatch
Jonny Lee Miller
Information
Nickname(s)Dr. Frankenstein, Henry Frankenstein, Mad Scientist, Crazy Scientist
GenderMale
OccupationScientist
Family

Parents:

Siblings:

Desendents:

Spouse(s)Elizabeth Lavenza (cousin/adopted sister/wife)
NationalitySwiss
 
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Dr. Victor Henry Frankenstein
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus character
Created byMary Shelley
Portrayed byColin Clive
Peter Cushing
Ralph Bates
Kenneth Branagh
Benedict Cumberbatch
Jonny Lee Miller
Information
Nickname(s)Dr. Frankenstein, Henry Frankenstein, Mad Scientist, Crazy Scientist
GenderMale
OccupationScientist
Family

Parents:

Siblings:

Desendents:

Spouse(s)Elizabeth Lavenza (cousin/adopted sister/wife)
NationalitySwiss

Victor Frankenstein is a fictional character and the protagonist of Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. He is an eccentric scientist who, after studying chemical processes and the decay of living beings, gains an insight into the creation of life and gives life to his own creature (often referred to as Frankenstein's monster, or incorrectly referred to as simply Frankenstein).

History[edit]

Victor was born in Naples (according to the 1831 edition of the novel) and raised in Geneva. He was the son of Alphonse Frankenstein and Caroline Beaufort, who died of scarlet fever when Victor was seventeen. He describes his ancestry thus: "I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation."[1] Victor has two younger brothers—William, the youngest, and Ernest, the middle child. Victor falls in love with Elizabeth Lavenza, who became his adoptive sister (his blood cousin in the 1818 edition) and, eventually, his fiancée.

As a boy, Frankenstein is interested in the works in alchemists such as Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus, and he longs to discover the fabled elixir of life. He loses interest in both these pursuits and in science as a whole after seeing the remains of a tree struck by lightning; however, at the University of Ingolstadt, Frankenstein develops a fondness for chemistry, and becomes obsessed with the idea of creating life in inanimate matter through artificial means, pursuing this goal for two years.

Assembling a humanoid creature perhaps by the use of a chemical, apparatus or a combination of both (he avoids the question three times when asked), Frankenstein successfully brings it to life, but he is suddenly horrified by his actions as it awakens. He abandons and flees his creation, who disappears and soon embarks upon a journey of vengeance that results in the death of Frankenstein's younger brother, William. The Frankensteins' family friend and housekeeper, Justine, is blamed for the boy's death and executed; Victor is wracked with guilt, but does not come forward with the truth because he thinks no one will believe his story, and he is afraid of the reactions he'll get.

The creature approaches Frankenstein and begs him to create a female companion for him; Frankenstein agrees, but ultimately destroys this creation, aghast at the idea of a race of monsters. Enraged, the creature swears revenge and kills Henry Clerval, Victor's best friend. Later, on Frankenstein's wedding night, the monster kills Elizabeth, keeping the promise he made the night Victor demolished the incomplete female creation.

Frankenstein pursues the "fiend" or "Demon" (as he calls his creation) to the Arctic with the intent of destroying it; he ultimately fails in his mission, as he falls through an ice floe and contracts severe pneumonia. He is rescued by a ship undergoing an expedition to the North Pole, but dies after relating his tale to the ship's captain, Robert Walton. His creature, upon discovering the death of its creator, is overcome by sorrow and vows to commit suicide by burning himself alive in "the Northernmost extremity of the globe"; he then disappears, never to be seen or heard from again.

Characterization[edit]

While many subsequent film adaptations (notably the 1931 movie Frankenstein and the Hammer Films series starring Peter Cushing) have portrayed Frankenstein as the prototypical "mad scientist", the novel portrayed him as a tragic figure.

A majority of adaptations portray Victor Frankenstein's age anywhere between his twenties or thirties to late middle age or elderly. In the book, Victor is only in his early twenties when he creates his monster.

Percy Shelley, Mary's husband, served as a major influence for the character. Victor was a pen name of Percy Shelley's, as in the collection of poetry he wrote with his sister Elizabeth, Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire.[2] There is speculation that one of Mary Shelley's models for Victor Frankenstein was Percy, who at Eton College had "experimented with electricity and magnetism as well as with gunpowder and numerous chemical reactions", and whose rooms at Oxford University were filled with scientific equipment.[3] Percy Shelley was the first-born son of a wealthy country squire with strong political connections and a descendant of Sir Bysshe Shelley, 1st Baronet of Castle Goring, and Richard Fitzalan, 10th Earl of Arundel.[4] Victor's family is one of the most distinguished of that republic and his ancestors were counsellors and syndics. Percy had a sister named Elizabeth. Victor had an adopted sister, named Elizabeth. On 22 February 1815, Mary Shelley delivered a baby two months premature; the child died two weeks later. Soon after, Percy left with Claire, Mary's stepsister, with whom he was having an affair.[5] The question of Victor's responsibility to the creature – in some ways like that of a parent to a child – is one of the main themes of the book.

Obsession plays a major role in the development of Victor's character. First, as a child, he is obsessed with reading books on alchemy, astrology, and many pseudo-sciences. Later, as an adolescent/young adult, he becomes enthralled with the study of life sciences - mainly dealing with death and the reanimation of corpses. Finally, after the monster is created, Victor is consumed with guilt, despair, and regret, leading him to obsess over the nature of his creation. Obsessive behaviors can be seen from the beginning of the book until Victor dies.

In other media[edit]

Books[edit]

Beside the original novel, the character also appears or is mentioned in other books from pastiches to parodies.

Film[edit]

Television[edit]

Theatre[edit]

Computer and video games[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus Chapter 1 (first sentence)
  2. ^ Sandy, Mark (2002-09-20). "Original Poetry by Victor and Cazire". The Literary Encyclopedia. The Literary Dictionary Company. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 
  3. ^ "Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792–1822)". Romantic Natural History. Department of English, Dickinson College. Retrieved 2007-01-02. 
  4. ^ Percy Shelley#Ancestry
  5. ^ "Journal 6 December – Very Unwell. Shelley & Clary walk out, as usual, to heaps of places...A letter from Hookham to say that Harriet has been brought to bed of a son and heir. Shelley writes a number of circular letters on this event, which ought to be ushered in with ringing of bells, etc., for it is the son of his wife." Quoted in Spark, 39.
  6. ^ "National Theatre Live programme / Broadcasts -- FRANKENSTEIN - with Benedict Cumberbatch & Jonny Lee Miller - (directed by Danny Boyle)". National Theatre Live org. 2013. Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  7. ^ Summary of the story of Frankenstein in Lords of shadow and his creature in action