The main characters in “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley are Victor Frankenstein, a student of science who becomes obsessed with discovering how to create life, and the creature he builds and gives life to. The two characters are very similar and both provoke readers’ sympathy. This means that it is hard to tell which is the protagonist and which is the antagonist.
The novel also features a number of secondary characters, including Frankenstein’s fiancée Elizabeth, his close friend Henry Clerval, his father and the family’s nanny, Justine. The female characters in the novel are notably passive and are punished unjustly as a result of Frankenstein’s unnatural experiments. This female passivity is a common feature of Gothic literature. Shelley uses it here to highlight the oppression of women and her message that women play an essential but overlooked role in society.
Captain Robert Walton, the narrator of the frame story, is another important secondary character. His background and his ambition make him resemble Frankenstein, but there a few key differences between the two men, such as Walton’s wish to make friends.