Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein begins with a series of letters from Captain Robert Walton to his sister. Walton explains that he is an explorer who has hired a ship to explore the waters around the North Pole. He and his crew spot a gigantic figure traveling across the ice, and later rescue a nearly frozen man called Victor Frankenstein.
Frankenstein sees himself in Walton’s determination to risk everything for his expedition – and decides to tell his own story as a warning to Walton. This provides the frame narrative for Frankenstein to take over as narrator.
Frankenstein starts by describing his childhood in Switzerland, with his parents, brothers, and an adopted sister, Elizabeth – with whom Frankenstein falls in love. He gains an early love of natural history. Just before he goes to university, his mother dies.
At university, he immerses himself in science and eventually works out the...