|Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus character|
Victor departs from Elizabeth to study in Ingolstadt. Engraving by Theodor von Holst for the 1831 edition.
|Created by||Mary Shelley|
|Portrayed by||Mary Fuller|
Helena Bonham Carter
|Nationality||German and Milanese|
Elizabeth Frankenstein (née Lavenza) is a fictional character first introduced in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. In both the novel and its various film adaptations, she is the fiancée of Victor Frankenstein.
Role in the novel
Born in Italy, Elizabeth Lavenza was adopted by Victor's family. In the first edition (1818), she is the daughter of Victor's father's sister and her Italian husband. After her mother's death, Elizabeth's father—intending to remarry—writes to Victor's father and asks if he and his wife would like to adopt the child and spare her being raised by a stepmother (as Mary Shelley had unhappily been). In the original novel, then, Victor and Elizabeth are cousins. In the revised third edition (1831), Victor's parents during a stay on Lake Como find Elizabeth being raised by a foster family after her German mother's death and the disappearance of her Italian father. Thus in the revised edition she is unrelated to Victor, who still describes her as "my more than sister." Victor describes her as his perfect woman: young, beautiful, and completely devoted to him. Elizabeth continually writes letters to Victor, encouraging him and acting as a positive force against his guilt at creating the monster.
After the monster begs Victor to create a mate for him and he agrees, he is furious when Victor destroys it before completion and vows, "I will be with you on your wedding-night." This grim foreboding turns out to be true; on the day of Elizabeth's marriage to Victor, the monster breaks into the bridal suite and strangles her. Her death is significant because it gives Victor a unique understanding of his creation; he now knows what it feels like to be completely alone in the world, with nothing to live for but revenge.
Role in the Universal films
She worries when Henry secludes himself in his laboratory and refuses to see anyone, and begs his mentor, Professor Waldman, to talk some sense into him. After his experiments get out of control, Henry departs the laboratory and returns home to his ancestral village. The monster runs loose on the day of the wedding, and Henry tells Elizabeth to stay in one of the rooms. The monster climbs through the window and frightens her so badly that she faints. She is last seen by Henry's bedside as he recovers from his climactic battle with the monster.
In Bride of Frankenstein, Elizabeth and Henry are married. She is kidnapped by the monster as a means of making Henry agree to create the Monster a mate. When the monster decides to destroy Frankenstein Castle with himself, his bride and the evil Septimus Pretorious inside, he allows Henry and Elizabeth to leave. The couple are last seen holding each other as the castle burns down.
Role in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
Elizabeth (Helena Bonham-Carter) plays the same role in the 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein as she does in the novel, save one significant alteration. After Elizabeth is murdered by the monster (Robert De Niro), a distraught Victor (Kenneth Branagh) reanimates her as an undead being. Soon after Elizabeth resurrects, the monster arrives and tries to woo her for himself. As Victor and his creation begin to fight over her, Elizabeth realizes what she has become and screams in agony. Spurning both suitors, she commits suicide by setting herself on fire with a Kerosene lamp.
Role in Young Frankenstein
In Mel Brooks' 1974 film Young Frankenstein, Elizabeth (Madeline Kahn) is a tightly wound socialite who is engaged to Dr. Frederick Frankenstein (Gene Wilder). When Frederick inherits his great-grandfather's estate in Transylvania, Elizabeth sees him off at the train station. Although Frederick tries to be affectionate, Elizabeth recoils from physical touching out of fear that it might smear lipstick, wrinkle her dress, or mess up her hair.
She arrives in Transylvania for a visit shortly after Frederick's monster (Peter Boyle) escapes from prison.
After Elizabeth is shown to her room, Frederick tries to convince her to sleep with him. Elizabeth teasingly pretends to agree before insisting on waiting until their wedding night. Extremely frustrated, Frederick leaves the room followed by a string of condescending endearments from Elizabeth.
As Elizabeth prepares for bed, the monster enters her bedroom window and kidnaps her. When they are alone in the forest, Elizabeth is horrified to learn that the monster wants sex. Elizabeth first offers some typical dating excuses, but then she sees the monster's enormous "Schwanstücker". Elizabeth gasps, "Oh, my God! WOOF!" She gleefully has consensual sex with the monster - over and over again.
When Frederick plays the violin to summon his creation back to the castle, Elizabeth is devastated when the monster leaves her side.
She screams, "Oh, you men are all alike! Seven or eight quick ones and you're off the boys to boast and brag! Well, you better keep your mouth shut! Oh, I think I love him!"
After an operation to stabilize the monster's brain, Elizabeth marries Frederick's now erudite and sophisticated creation. She is last seen with her hair styled just like the female monster from The Bride of Frankenstein.
Elizabeth Lavenza was portrayed by Mae Clarke in Frankenstein, by Valerie Hobson in The Bride of Frankenstein, by Hazel Court in The Curse of Frankenstein, by Helena Bonham Carter in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, by Nicole Lewis in the Hallmark miniseries based on Shelley's novel, and by Lacey Turner in Frankenstein's Wedding. Elizabeth is recreated as Eli in the Pemberley Digital web series Frankenstein, M.D.. Elizabeth is portrayed by Katie Weston in Frankenstein: The Musical. Elizabeth was portrayed on stage by Naomie Harris in Danny Boyle's 2011 production of Nick Dear's stage play adaptation of Shelley's novel.
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