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Facts in Frankenstein

Facts Examples in Frankenstein:

Letter I

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"Archangel..."   (Letter I)

Walton began his expedition in London, traveled to St. Petersburg, Russia, and now has passed the northern Russian port city of Archangel (Архангельск). It was the chief sea port of medieval Russia until the completion of St. Petersburg.

"the North Pacific Ocean through the seas which surround the pole..."   (Letter I)

Walton refers to a how explorers reach the East more quickly by traveling northward through the Arctic Ocean rather than around South America or Africa. This route is also known as the Northwest Passage.

"secret of the magnet..."   (Letter I)

This refers to the trouble with using magnetic navigational instruments in polar regions. Due to the nature of magnets, magnetic instruments are prone to distortion in such places. Calling it “the secret” places the readers back in time, when magnesium was not scientifically understood yet. It was not until Michael Faraday's (1791–1867) experiments with magnetism and electricity in 1821 that these concepts became clear.

"secret of the magnet..."   (Letter I)

This refers to the trouble with navigation in polar regions as magnetic instruments of travelers are distorted in such areas. Calling it “the secret” places the readers back in time, when magnesium was not scientifically understood yet. It was not until Michael Faraday's (1791-1867) experiments with magnetism and electricity in 1821 that these concepts became clear.

"Prometheus..."   (Letter I)

In Greek mythology, Prometheus is a Titan who stole fire from the gods and gave it to humans. Fire was forbidden to humans, and because of this crime, Zeus chained Prometheus to a mountaintop for eternal torture. Shelley subtitles her novel The Modern Prometheus because of Victor's thirst for forbidden knowledge, his eventual ability to create life, and his miserable consequences; in a sense, this makes him Shelley’s Prometheus.

"ARCHANGEL,..."   (Letter II)

Also known as Arkhangelsk, Archangel is a city in northern Russia. Up until 1703, it served as the main seaport of old and early modern Russia when St. Petersburg, the second largest city in Russia, became the main port for a variety of trades.

"Lake of Como..."   (Chapter I)

Lake Como is a glacial lake located in Lombardy, Italy. It is the third-largest lake in Italy at 146 square kilometers.

"Cornelius Agrippa..."   (Chapter II)

The German scholar Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486–1535) was best known for his contributions to science and rhetoric through his work as a polymath, physician, theologian, and occult writer. Many of his works influenced later philosophers and writers such as Descartes and Goethe. Frankenstein’s father discounts Agrippa’s credibility, because many scholars, while acknowledging the impact of his works, considered his theories outdated or obsolete.

"mountains of Jura..."   (Chapter II)

The Jura mountain range is located along the France-Switzerland border north of the Western Alps.

"Albertus Magnus...."   (Chapter II)

St. Albertus Magnus (1205-1278) was a German Dominican friar and Catholic bishop whose work ranged from the life sciences to philosophy to theology. He held the belief that religion and experimental science should be studied in tandem to discover the mysteries of nature and the universe. The influence of Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Magnus on Frankenstein is most apparent at this intersection between science and mysticism.

"Natural philosophy..."   (Chapter II)

What Frankenstein calls “natural philosophy” we may today call natural science. It was the philosophical study of nature and the universe that was dominant before the proliferation of modern science. Today, natural science is separated into distinct fields such as biology and physics.

"the Môle..."   (Chapter VII)

Le Môle is a mountain of the Chablais Alps to the east of Lake Geneva (modern-day France).

"over that part of the lake which lies between the promontory of Belrive and the village of Copêt. ..."   (Chapter VII)

A promontory is similar to a headland or a peninsula. Belrive here is most likely now the Genevan suburb Collonge-Bellerive, which is separated from the village of Copet by a narrow part of of Lake Geneva.

"Salêve, the Juras, and the Alps of Savoy;..."   (Chapter VII)

The Salève is a mountain of the French Prealps, often called the "Balcony of Geneva". The Juras refers to the Jura mountain range located along the France-Switzerland border, north of the Western Alps. The Alps of Savoy is the third mountain range of this list, located in southeastern France. Frankenstein describes the loud thunderstorm echoing between these mountain ranges. By using these large mountain ranges as the ‘borders’ of this thunderstorm, Shelley creates a sense of grandiosity and magnificence for the reader. This setting further foreshadows the greater sense of terror and destruction in the coming chapters.

"Mont Blanc..."   (Chapter VII)

Mont Blanc is the highest mountain of the Swiss Alps and 11th highest in the world. It is significant the Victor notices Mt Blanc as he drives back from London, as this mountain will later form an integral setting for his confrontation with the creature.

"nearly in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me...."   (Chapter VII)

In European folklore, vampires were creatures that came back from the graves to visit their loved ones while causing trouble and deaths in the community that they once lived in when they were still alive. Victor describes the creature as a reflection of his own vampire and spirit. The paralleling of Victor and the creature will continue to occur in the story, revealing to us similarities shared between the two.

"evil hour..."   (Chapter VIII)

The term “evil hour,” or witching hour, refers to the hour in which creatures like witches, ghosts, and demons appear and are at their most powerful. Based on stories and superstitions, this hour usually occurs around midnight, or sometimes, 2:00 AM.

"Arve..."   (Chapter IX)

The Arve river flows through Geneva, Chamonix, and several other towns in eastern France and south-western Switzerland.

"Chamounix..."   (Chapter IX)

Now spelled “Chamonix,” this valley and small commune in eastern France lies in the path of a north approach to Mont Blanc near the Swiss border.

"“We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep. We rise; one wandering thought pollutes the day. We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep, Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away; It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow, The path of its departure still is free. Man's yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but mutability!”..."   (Chapter X)

These lines represent the second half of Percy Shelley’s poem “Mutability,” which was first published in 1816, the year Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. The content of the poem does not appear to have a direct correlation with the developments of the story at this point. That being said, it is moving to hear the creature deliver a beautifully constructed and wise reflection on the nature of human existence. The central idea of the poem is that the only constant in life is inconstancy. This idea that the temperament of the soul is always changing and fleeting is pertinent to Frankenstein, whose restless reflections have carried him through extreme emotional highs and lows.

"Constantinople..."   (Chapter XIV)

This is the previous name for the city of Istanbul, the capital of Turkey. Historically, Constantinople had also been the capital of the Holy Roman Empire. The city is strategically located on the Bosphorus strait, which separates the Black Sea from the Mediterranean.

"Goring..."   (Chapter XIX)

This appears to be a reference to a courtier and general who served under Charles I and later in the civil war that followed the execution of Charles I. Many credit Goring as unprincipled, seeking alliances that only served his own interests.

"Falkland..."   (Chapter XIX)

Another figure from the reign of Charles I, this is a reference to Lucius Cary, second Viscount Falkland. Cary was Secretary of State for Charles I during the last two years of his reign before he was executed.

"Charles I..."   (Chapter XIX)

The second son of King James VI of Scotland, Charles I (1600–1649) assumed the throne on March 27, 1625 and ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was a known tyrant, convinced of his divine right to rule, and was subsequently executed in 1649 for his convictions as well as his refusing to deal with Parliament, his taxation policies, and his Catholic associations.

"the Cumberland lakes..."   (Chapter XIX)

The Cumberland lakes are located in a mountainous region in northwest England, today known as the Lake District. The lakes are located within the county of Cumbria.

"Matlock..."   (Chapter XIX)

The town of Matlock is located on the Derwent River in northern England. It is the capital of Derbyshire.

"Oxford..."   (Chapter XIX)

The home of the renowned University of Oxford, this city is located on the Thames River in south central England. It is also the capital of the county of Oxfordshire.

"Windsor..."   (Chapter XIX)

This is a town in Berkshire, southern England, which is located on the Thames River and to the west of London.

"like the torture of single drops of water continually falling on the head..."   (Chapter XIX)

Frankenstein is referring to a water torture practice first described by Hippolytus de Marsilis in 15th- or 16th-century Italy. The process occurs just as Frankenstein describes it, and allegedly it drives the restrained victim insane.

"laudanum..."   (Chapter XXI)

Laudanum is an opioid drug that was used to treat multiple ailments in the 19th century. Patients experiencing pain, insomnia, diarrhea, or colds were prescribed this medication for its effective ability to seemingly combat many diseases. Today, this drug is used only in rare cases to treat extreme pain, diarrhea, or withdrawal symptoms from heroin.

"rapid Rhone..."   (Chapter XXI)

The Rhone River is a major river in Europe. It begins at the Rhone Glacier in the Swiss Alps, passes through Lake Geneva, and runs through the South of France. Victor is likely remembering the part of the river that flows through Geneva as this is where he grew up.

"Rhone..."   (Chapter XXIV)

One of the major rivers in Europe, the Rhone flows from a glacier in the Swiss Alps and passes through France on its way to the Mediterranean Sea.

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