A short summary of the 1831 edition
The English ship's captain Robert Walton, in a series of letters to his sister Margaret Saville in England, describes the initial stages in his journey to the North Pole. While sailing, Walton's ship becomes trapped in arctic ice they take a stranded man aboard the ship and Walton tries to restore him back to life.
This man, Victor Frankenstein, while recuperating from exposure, relates his history. He describes his childhood in Geneva, his mother’s life and death and her last wish – that he should marry his adopted sister Elizabeth.
After mourning his mother's death, Frankenstein goes to the University of Ingolstadt, he is little impressed by one of his professors and has little interest in the mundane work of modern scientists as compared with the fantastic dreams of the alchemists. Upon meeting another professor, however -- Waldman -- his attitude toward modern chemistry changes, and he begins to study with ardour, rapidly progressing in his knowledge.
Still filled with the grandiose dreams of the alchemists, Frankenstein devotes himself to study day and night, neglecting his family and friends. After two years of uninterrupted labour, he has discovered the secret for which he has sought: the principle of life. On a November night, he succeeds in bringing life to lifeless matter, but when the eyes of his creature open, he is terrified by its appearance, and runs from it in horror. He falls into a fever, with only Clerval (his childhood friend, who had gone to join him at Iglostadt) to nurse him back to health. After a few months of raving he comes to his senses. Days later, they receive a letter from Frankenstein's father announcing the murder of Victor's brother, William.
He travels to Geneva, where a search for William's murderer is in progress. Outside the city, Victor spots his creation and is certain that the Creature is responsible for his brother's death, even though a family servant, Justine Moritz, has been accused of the killing. Frankenstein and Elizabeth are convinced of Justine's innocence, but at her trial she is found guilty and executed. Her death and William's weigh heavily on Frankenstein, who blames himself as their true murderer.