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I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.
~ Dr. Frankenstein.
It was the secrets of Heaven and Earth that I desired to learn; and whether it was the outward substance of things or the inner spirit of nature and the mysterious soul of man that occupied me, still my inquiries were directed to the metaphysical, or, in its highest sense, the physical secrets of the world.
~ Victor Frankenstein on his desire to learn godlike things.
Under the guidance of my new preceptors, I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life; but the latter soon obtained my undivided attention. Wealth was an inferior object, but what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!
~ Dr Frankenstein's wish to cure all diseases, leading to his creation of the monster.)
It's Alive!!
~ Victor reviving The Monster.

Dr. Victor von Frankenstein is the titular main protagonist of the 1818 novel Frankenstein by the late Mary Shelly and its subsequent adaptations. He is a scientist who wished to discover the secrets of life, doing so by reanimating dead bodies. Although later realising the dangers of his immoral work he couldn't shake away what he created no matter how hard he tried and was forced to live with the consequences of his creation's existence and crimes against him.

Portrayals

History

Novel

Dr. Frankenstein originates from the 1818 novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly. Although not actually a doctor in the novel (he is a university student studying Natural Sciences) later depictions show him as a doctor.

His full name is Victor von Frankenstein, and he is a tragic character who started as a medical student trying to achieve necromancy. He illegally dug up bodies and stitched them together to make a living creature that would later become known as the Frankenstein's Monster.

Victor robbing a grave.

Victor wanted his creation to be beautiful, immortal, and superhuman. Immortal and superhuman? Yes. Beautiful? No. The creature was so hideous, that Dr. Frankenstein fled the lab in horror. The monster was gone the next day, but the unhinged doctor started seeing him everywhere.

Victor's fears were confirmed when his younger brother, William Frankenstein, was found dead. On that same night, he saw an evil-looking silhouette in a storm. Victor knew that the monster had done it, even when his servant Justine was found with William's locket.

If Victor truly cared for Justine, he did nothing to defend her when she was trialed and hanged (though what could he have done?). Dr. Frankenstein sets out to the Alps to find the monster and take his revenge on him. When he found the monster, he berated it with empty threats and cursed it for its evil.

The monster took Victor to his hut and told him about what happened to him after he abandoned him. Of how he had been hated and shunned mankind. He had lost his mind and set out for revenge against Dr. Frankenstein for creating and abandoned him. He had killed William on finding out that he was a Frankenstein, and framed Justine for the murder. He told Victor that he had reformed and that all he wanted in life a companion. The monster told Victor that as his father, he owed him some happiness, and promised that if he made him a bride, he would leave humankind alone forever. Victor agreed to do this only for the sake of his fellow man.

Victor did the same thing he did before and created a female version of the monster. But when he saw the monster watching anticipatedly through the window, and thought of giving the monster happiness after what he had done to him, the despicable doctor went into a rage and destroyed the lifeless bride.

He regretted this treachery on his wedding night when the monster killed his best friend Henry, and his new wife Elizabeth. Victor went insane and had to be locked up for a while. When he was released, he chased the monster all the way to the Arctic, where he was picked up by a ship.

He told the captain the tale of him and the monster. Victor was in a weakened condition, and when called the captain to talk to him, it would be the last conversation he ever had. He said he no longer hated the monster he created. He now knew that he had failed it and that he, Victor, was responsible for the acts of evil is committed. But he told the captain that it had to be destroyed and that he, the captain, had to be the one to do it. Dr. Frankenstein then died of exhaustion.

Mary Shelly's Frankenstein

Do you share my madness?
~ Victor to Captain Walton, who is also obsessed with a doomed quest.

This adaptation was easily the most faithful to the novel, however in spite of this there are still a few differences in his story.

Victor Frankenstein was born in Geneva to the wealthy, aristocratic Frankenstein family. He was scientifically curious from a young age; as a boy, Victor would trap fireflies in his light to illuminate his room when he read.

As he got older his isolationism grew and he became even more unsocial. He would forever be pondering over old books of ancient magic and alchemy. One day his mother got pregnant by his father, and Victor barely registered it, let alone the fact that he would soon be having a sibling. He made a derisive comment "How is the imminent arrival?" before going back to his studies. His mother tried to dissuade him and let him have fun, but this went ignored by Victor until he was forced to chase her when his mother playfully stole his papers.

One day his father adopted a young girl named Elizabeth, who would be Victor's step-sister although the plan always was for them to be married. Elizabeth's entire family had died of scarlet fever. Victor loved Elizabeth at first sight, and she loved him, but Victor's studies came first.

One day his mother got so heavily pregnant she went into labor. His physician father tried to help her but she nonetheless died in childbirth. Despite Elizabeth's consolation that all would be well, lightning struck a tree outside, giving Victor the first taste of the power of electricity. Victor was inconsolable at the loss of his beloved mother, crying out, "Please bring her back, God!" Later, as his mother lay in her grave, he promised to God that he would find a way to stop Death, the final enemy.

Victor got entry into Ingolstadt University but he was immediately shunned due to his Swiss origins, his obsession with "obsolete sorcerers" and his eccentricities and rebellious nature. He found he had only two close friends, Henry Clerval and Professor Waldman. Victor began faithfully to his family by writing home once or twice, saying all was well, but Victor fell out with the pompous Professor Krempe who believed in a nihilistic universe. When Krempe pushed Frankenstein too far, the scientist snapped and, under Professor Waldman's tutelage, began a study of Necromancy. However, Waldman warned him the results were evil. One dark day, Waldman was brutally murdered by a patient in the surgery and the assassin was caught and hanged.

Frankenstein began sinking into evil deeds. He robbed cemeteries, stealing corpses, and desecrating the remains. He chose Waldman's brain, believing him to be a highly intelligent man, and began using the assassin who killed Waldman as the base for his new Creation.

Over time, Elizabeth got worried about Frankenstein's neglect of her, and her letters, and she herself went to Ingolstadt, braving the fears of a pox outbreak to visit her lover. However, when she found him inside, in sweaty clothes, a stinking laboratory, and disheveled and exhausted, Elizabeth almost broke off her romance with him. He kicked her out, but when he tried to call her back it was too late. Victor successfully animated his Creation in his anger later that evening.

Now proving that he could cheat Death, Victor got horrified when he realized what a strong and relentless Creature he had made. The Creature he had made was initially friendly, but after Victor clubbed it in a fit of fear, the saddened Creature fled from its tormentor and took refuge in the Swiss Alps.

While the Creature helped a peasant family in the Alps, Victor recovered. Learning from Clerval that the townspeople had nearly all died from pox, including the children, Victor said "Thank God..." his most evil quote, confusing and alarming Clerval. Victor said this because he believed his Creation was now dead from pox too when in fact it had lived.

Victor Frankenstein reunited with his lover Elizabeth, and they returned home on purposes of getting married. The Creature had by now realized who Victor was and that he had built him, and was angered. He encountered the young William Frankenstein, Victor's brother, outside the palace and he murdered him. Victor was enraged, and the maid Justine was hanged, being framed by the Creature. Frankenstein barely lifted a finger to stop her execution.

On the way back home, Victor met the Creature for the first time, who directed him to the mountains. After an argument with Elizabeth and Henry, he left and met the Creature, who admitted to killing William, saying he saw Victor's face when killing William, and it gave him pleasure. The Creature then asked for a bride, and if he denied him his wedding night, he would be with Victor on his. After Victor and Elizabeth got married, Victor's father died of grief and the Creature closed his eyes. Later, the Creature returned to kill Elizabeth and made Victor insane.

Victor chased the Creature to his mansion where he made Elizabeth's corpse return to life as a gruesome puppet. When she realized that she was artificially created, she killed herself in an inferno in front of the Creature and Victor. In a fit of anger, Victor chased the Creature to the Arctic, seeking to kill him. However, the captain of a ship, Captain Walton, that was stuck in the ice rescued Victor, who warned him of the dangers of science before telling his story and dying. Walton believed Victor insane, naturally, until he met the Creature. Unlike Frankenstein, Walton felt pity for the Creature, who, after Victor's funeral, decided to end his life with his master as he was "done with man."

Van Helsing

Dr. Frankenstein appeared briefly in the Van Helsing movie. He created the Frankenstein Monster for good but was betrayed by Igor, and killed by Dracula. This is perhaps the least malicious incarnation of the character ever shown.

Penny Dreadful

TBA

Universal series

Main article: Dr. Henry Frankenstein

Hammer series

Main article: Baron Victor Frankenstein

ITV Film

Main article: Dr. Victoria Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein

Main article: Dr. Victor Frankenstein (2015 film)

Personality

Victor Frankenstein was a brilliant but mentally unstable man. Obsessive, delusional, and relentless, he went as far as graverobbing and necromancy to achieve his goals of creating life but immediately turned his back on his own work when he saw the outcome. He was also quite hostile and liked to keep to himself although did have a good number of friends and a decent relationship with his family, this is because of his everlasting mourning towards his own mother's death, the igniter in his obsession with eternal life. These traits all made him quite selfish and arrogant.

Ultimately he was a tragic and misguided figure and by the end of his life he regretted many of his poor choices.

Quotes

No one need ever die. I will stop this. I will stop this. I promise.
~ Victor Frankenstein makes his infamous and impossible resolution.
That is RUBBISH and you know that! These practices have been repeatedly proven true by members of your own kind! Yes, you sir!
~ Victor in a fit of rage, unintentionally embarrassing Professor Waldman by revealing he dabbled in necromancy in front of the student body.

Trivia

  • Dr. Frankenstein is the most well known of all mad scientists. Countless shorts and films feature different versions of the original Dr. Frankenstein, descendants of Dr. Frankenstein, and many mad scientist parodies. The famous concept of Dr. Frankenstein and his assistant Igor/Ygor has been well known by many.
  • Sometimes Dr. Frankenstein will be good, but most times not. Usually, he'll create a monster for tools of evil, but some storylines that bother to explain him, make him a man whose goals are good, but who is willing to do evil to achieve them.
  • Ironically enough in spite of being particularly famous for being a doctor, Victor never actually ended up finishing his university studies in the closer adaptations to the book.

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