People who run in literary circles are fond of pointing out that Frankenstein is the name of the doctor* in Mary Shelley’s famous novel, not the monster. They revel in pedantically correcting people who refer to the monster as Frankenstein to such a great extent that anyone who is reading this blog has either corrected someone or been corrected by someone on this very point. But what is the creature’s (for such he is most commonly called in the novel) actual name? I’m sorry to say—and this will really tick off the literary types—it’s probably Frankenstein.

Allow me to explain: The titular character in the novel is the human scientist Frankenstein. He is the obvious protagonist, the tragic Romantic genius, the modern Prometheus, etc. This fact is not in dispute, and it is obvious to anyone who has read the novel. But Frankenstein is the doctor’s last name. His first name is Victor. His name follows the traditional western convention where his first name, Victor is his personal name, and Frankenstein, his last name, is his family name. He has inherited his last name from his father, Alphonse Frankenstein. Most of the other characters in the novel follow the same conventions, including Robert Walton Henry Clerval, Elizabeth Lavenza, etc.  Even the characters who are not identified as having both a first and a last name in the novel, are named with either a fist name or a last name. Presumably, they have the missing half as well. A character like Mr. Kirwin, for example, most likely has a first name even if it’s not related in the novel.

Now the creature, famously, is not given a name by Victor Frankenstein upon his creation. He is rejected and cast out, a fact which he laments later in the novel. But even through he doesn’t have a first name, the very fact that his creator is named Frankenstein would, likely, make his last name Frankenstein. True, he does not have a biological father as he is a hodgepodge of parts from various humans, but had the doctor raised and trained him to be part of society, legally—or at least by convention—his last name would, most likely be Frankenstein. When the doctor disowns him, he does not lose that appellation. The creature, himself, would have to disavow the name himself, which he never specifically does, and which, at least the first half of the story he would not likely do, given his characterization. Thus, while the monster’s does not have a first name, his last name, is, most likely, Frankenstein.

To quote one of the greatest anti-pedants of all time, “How do you like them apples?”

Like the famous philosopher Descartes, I welcome well-reasoned challenges in the comments.

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* Nowhere in the novel is Victor Frankenstein identified as “doctor.Calling him “doctor” engages in the exact same kind of conflation of the movie and the novel that leads people to call the monster Frankenstein.

5 thoughts on “Revealed: Frankenstein’s Monster’s Name!

  1. “Mary Shelley’s original novel never ascribes an actual name to the monster; although when speaking to his creator, Victor Frankenstein, the monster does say ‘I ought to be thy Adam.'”

    So, not much of a leap to “Adam Frankenstein.”

    Like

    1. I am aware of that passage. It’s symbolic. He ought to be Adam but is treated like Lucifer (with whom he identifies after reading Paradise Lost).

      Like

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