Frankenstein by Mary Shelley: Plot Summary of Volume Three
Frankenstein Plot Summary Volume III
Victor Frankenstein travels to Scotland and takes up residence on one of the remote Orkney islands to begin his task of making a mate for the monster. He has already dawdled at home and traveling with his friend Henry Clerval and he fears that the monster is watching him. He is afraid that the monster might kill Henry as a warning. The monster has promised Victor that he will watch him and will come for his mate when she is ready.
As he begins his task of yet another creation Victor is again horrified and disgusted with the task at hand. He ruminates about the promise of the monster to leave civilization but reasons that this new creature has made no such promise. He fears that she may hate the monster and be repulsed at his appearance and suffering another rejection the monster may in the end still pursue vengeance upon humanity.
Frankenstein questions his right to buy peace at any price by potentially bringing destruction on mankind. At this moment as he is questioning his decision to move forward, the monster appears in the window. At the sight of the monster, Frankenstein is driven to madness and begins to tear apart the creature that was to become the monsters mate.
The monster howls in despair and withdraws. Several hours later he returns and confronts Frankenstein again. He asks what Frankenstein’s intentions are. “Do you dare to break your promise?” “Do you dare destroy my hopes?” The monster promises to make Frankenstein’s life “so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to [him]”.
He continues, “Man! You may hate, but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness forever. Are you to be happy while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness?” He tells Victor that he will be with him on his wedding night. Victor assumes that the threat is toward himself. He believes that his wedding night will be the night of their final struggle.
Victor leaves the island on a boat at night with a basket full of the body parts and material from his destroyed female monster. He dumps it in the deep water and becomes carried away in his boat to England. He is intercepted upon landing and taken to the magistrate where he is accused of murdering a young man who’s body was found on that very shore. He is taken to a room and shown the body of none other than Henry Clerval. The black finger marks around his neck reveal that he has been murdered by the monster. He is taken before the courts and released on proof that he was on the Orkney Islands at the time his friend was murdered.
Victor’s father comes and retrieves him and they travel back to Switzerland and to their home. Victor had decided that he and Elizabeth will be married quickly so that the night of his final battle with the monster will come quickly. He imagines how it will be - the monster attacking him and he defending himself. He imagines that it will be traumatic for Elizabeth to see him engaged in battle with this horrific monster. He is uncertain as to whether he will prevail or be killed by the monster. Either way he will be released from his torment.
The wedding night arrives and Victor is prepared for the inevitable battle. He is nervous and distracted. His bride is concerned about his odd behavior and he sends her to bed alone and asks for her patience. He promises to tell all the next day if she will only wait and not ask any questions this night. As he valiantly waits in the outer chamber prepared for battle he hears his beloved bride scream. He rushes in and finds her dead, lying across the bed.
The monster, still at the window, grins and points at Victor’s dead bride. Victor pulls out his pistol and shoots at the monster and the monster flees diving into the lake beyond. A crowd of people have gathered in Victor’s room and a hunt for the monster ensues. The crowd follows his tracks and throws nets into the lake but he is nowhere to be found.
We are now returned to the present location of Robert Walton’s ship at the North Pole where Frankenstein tells Robert that the rest of the story is tedious. His father has died in his arms, not being able to bear any more sorrow.
As Frankenstein vows at the graves of his loved ones to take vengeance on the monster he hears the voice of the beast speak out “I am satisfied, miserable wretch! You have determined to live, and I am satisfied”
The chase ensues and Frankenstein pursues his nemesis throughout Europe and Russia and to the North Pole. Frankenstein’s rage keeps him from abandoning his pursuits to lands where he is certain he cannot survive. He begins his pursuit on a sledge pulled by dogs but the breaking of the ice separates him from the monster. We come full circle in our story as the ice upon which he floats is brought to the side of Walton’s ship.
In a final revelation of self examination Frankenstein confesses his arrogance and pride in what he has attempted. “like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell.” Knowing that death is imminent, he begs Walton to take up his task of pursuing and killing the beast.
The ice breaks and a path to the south is opened. As Walton’s ship begins it’s journey homeward, Frankenstein passes into eternity. Walton enters the cabin where the body of Victor Frankenstein lies and finds the monster bent over the corpse muttering expressions of grief and repentance.
In the final pages of the book the monster reveals to Walton the struggle and pain that he has suffered in bringing pain and sorrow and death to those loved ones of Victor Frankenstein. He claims that in the beginning of his existence his whole being overflowed with happiness and affection, that he desired love and fellowship but was spurned. He asks the question “Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me?”
He leaves the ship with the promise that he will end his own wretched life.
“But soon I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell”