Un cœur simple

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Gustave Flaubert

The monster — As is expected in this kind of novel, the monster takes center stage and is the central character in the story. He is described as hideously ugly, and believed to be approximately eight feet tall. He has been created by the scientist Victor Frankenstein. The monster is shunned by everyone who sees him because of the way he looks, but he is actually sensitive and intelligent. He only wants to be a part of society. He finally becomes so frustrated with being shunned by everyone that his feelings of being abandoned cause him to seek out revenge against the man who created him.

Victor Frankenstein — Victor is the narrator for most of the story. He is also the protagonist, and it is relatively clear that he is doomed from the start of the story. While he is studying in Ingolstadt he discovers the secret behind how to create life. Clearly he is very talented but some things that can be done should still not be done. This discovery causes Frankenstein to create a monster that is terribly grotesque looking but also very intelligent. He ends up recoiling from this monster in horror and decides to keep the monster a secret from everyone. As the story moves forward, Victor feels more ashamed and guiltier that he has created the monster and that there is nothing he can do to stop it from ruining lives – including his own.

Robert Walton — Robert is an arctic seafarer. His letters open and close the novel. The premise behind this is that Walton is the one who rescues Victor from off of a large piece of ice. He nurses Victor back to health and hears his story in the process. As a way of recording the tale he writes it down in a long series of letter that are addressed to Margaret Saville, his sister who lives in England.

Alphonse Frankenstein — Alphonse is Victor's father. He is quite sympathetic to his son and the problems he is facing in his life. In moments of pain and trouble, Alphonse is always there to console Victor. His main point is to get Victor to always remember how important family is to him.

Elizabeth Lavenza — Elizabeth is an orphan who is only a few years younger than Victor. The Frankensteins have adopted her. Depending on which edition of the novel one is reading there are differences in how Elizabeth comes to be with the family. The 1818 edition has her as Victor's cousin and the child of Alphonse's sister. The 1831 edition states that Elizabeth was rescued by Victor's mother when she was found living in a destitute cottage in a peasant village in Italy. Elizabeth clearly shows the motif of passive women that runs throughout the novel as she waits patiently for Victor to pay attention to her.

William Frankenstein — William is the youngest brother of Victor. Because he is the baby of the family he is also the most popular and well-treated of the group. Eventually, the monster that Victor created finds William in the woods near Geneva and strangles him. He does this because he wants to get back at Victor and he feels abandoned by his creator. Victor is deeply saddened by William's death. He is also very guilty because he knows William would be alive if he had not created the monster and abandoned him.

Henry Clerval — Henry is the boyhood friend of Victor. In Ingolstadt, he takes care of Victor and helps him to regain his health. He was worked for his father for years but is not happy there, so he decides to follow Victor and become a scientist. Where Victor is a very morose individual, Henry is very cheerful. He provides a good counterbalance to the feelings Victor expresses throughout the novel.

Caroline Beaufort — Caroline is Beaufort's daughter and is taken into the Frankenstein home by Alphonse after her father dies. Eventually, she marries Alphonse. She gets scarlet fever from Elizabeth and dies of the illness before Victor turns seventeen and leaves the family home to go to Ingolstadt.

Justine Moritz — While Victor is growing up, Justine is adopted into the Frankenstein's house. She is blamed for the murder of William. Because she is found guilty of the murder she is executed. The murder of William was actually committed by the monster.

Beaufort — Beaufort is a friend of Victor's father and a merchant. He is also Caroline's father.

Peasants — The family of peasants includes De Lacey, who is a blind old man. Felix and Agatha are his son and daughter. Safie is also part of the group. By watching them the monster learns how to talk and how he should interact with others. He finally gets close to them and hopes for friendship, but they chase him and beat him.

M. Krempe — Krempe is a professor at Ingolstadt. He deals with natural philosophy and thinks that Victor's study of alchemy is a wasted effort. He encourages him to study something else and start over.

M. Waldman — Waldman is a chemistry professor. It is throughhim that Victor becomes interested in science. While Waldman is not convinced of the conclusions drawn by alchemists he understands why Victor would be interested in a form of science that is able to address issues like the origin of life. Because alchemy deals with the big questions it is logical that it would appeal to scientists like Victor.

Mr. Kirwin — Kirwin is a magistrate. He is the one who originally accuses Victor of the murder of Henry.

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