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Bride of Frankenstein
Bride of Frankenstein character
Elsa Lanchester as the Monster's Bride with Boris Karloff as the Monster in Bride of Frankenstein
Created byMary Shelley
Adapted byWilliam Hurlbut
Portrayed byElsa Lanchester
In-universe information
SpeciesSimulacrum human
FamilyHeinrich "Henry" von Frankenstein (creator)
Septimus Pretorius (creator)
Frankenstein's monster (companion/predecessor)
StatusDeceased (original and 1994 remake)
Alive (The Bride (1985))

The Bride of Frankenstein is a fictional character first introduced in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus and later in the 1935 film Bride of Frankenstein. In the film, the Bride is played by Elsa Lanchester. The character's design in the film features a conical hairdo with white lightning-trace streaks on each side, which has become an iconic symbol of both the character and the film.



In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus, Victor Frankenstein is tempted by his monster's proposal to create a female creature so that the monster can have a wife: "'Shall each man,' cried he, 'find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone?'"[1] The monster promises that if Victor grants his request, he and his mate will vanish into the wilderness of South America, never to reappear. Fearing for his family, Victor reluctantly agrees and travels to the Orkney Islands to begin his work on the creature's mate. He is plagued by premonitions of what his work might wreak, particularly the idea that creating a bride for the monster might lead to the breeding of an entire race of creatures that could plague mankind. After seeing his first creation looking in the window, Frankenstein destroys the unfinished bride. The monster witnesses this, fails to get Victor to put it back together, and vows to be with Victor on his upcoming wedding night. True to his word, the monster murders Frankenstein's new wife Elizabeth.


In Bride of Frankenstein, Henry Frankenstein's (Colin Clive) mentor Doctor Septimus Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger) proposes to Henry that together they create a mate for his monster (Boris Karloff), with Henry creating the body and Pretorius supplying an artificially-grown brain. Henry initially balks at the idea, but Pretorius threatens to expose him to the authorities as the creator of the monster. Henry eventually agrees to help his mentor when the monster kidnaps Henry's wife Elizabeth (Valerie Hobson). Henry returns to his tower laboratory where in spite of himself, he grows excited by his work. After being assured of Elizabeth's safety, Henry completes the Bride's body from parts gathered by Pretorius and his hired help Karl and Ludwig. While Pretorius has grown an artificial brain that awaits to be brought out of its dormant state, Karl had obtained a fresh heart from a passerby woman while claiming that he did Pretorius' orders of accessing the recently deceased bodies while bribing the gendarmerie.

A storm rages as final preparations are made to bring the Bride to life. Her bandage-wrapped body is raised through the roof. Lightning strikes a kite sending electricity through the Bride. They remove her bandages and help her to stand. Pretorius then declares it "The Bride of Frankenstein!" The excited Monster sees his mate and reaches out to her while saying "Friend". Upon seeing the monster, the Bride screams in horror. When the monster tries to touch her, the Bride screams again. Heartbroken, the monster says "She hate me. Like all the others." As Elizabeth races to Henry's side, the monster rampages through the laboratory and finds a lever that will destroy the castle. The monster tells Henry and Elizabeth to leave, but orders Pretorius and the Bride to stay, saying "We belong dead." While Henry and Elizabeth flee, the monster sheds a tear as the Bride hisses and he then pulls the lever, triggering the destruction of the laboratory and tower.

1930s Universal's art director Karoly Grosz designed this offbeat 1935 advertisement

The following film Son of Frankenstein (1939) reveals that the monster survived the explosion while Pretorius and the Bride presumably died.

In the Dark Horse "Universal's Monsters" novel The Bride of Frankenstein: Pandora's Bride, Pretorius and the Bride survive the explosion. They escape to Germany where he teaches her to become her own woman.

Production info

Early in production, James Whale decided that the same actress cast to play the Bride should also play Mary Shelley in the film's prologue, to represent how the story — and horror in general — springs from the dark side of the imagination.[2] He considered Brigitte Helm and Phyllis Brooks before deciding on Elsa Lanchester. Lanchester, who had accompanied husband Charles Laughton to Hollywood, had met with only moderate success at that point. Lanchester had returned alone to London when Whale contacted her to offer her the dual role.[3] Lanchester modeled the Bride's hissing on the hissing of swans. She gave herself a sore throat while filming the hissing sequence, which Whale shot from multiple angles.[4]

The Bride (1985 film)

The Bride of Frankenstein was portrayed as Eva in The Bride played by Jennifer Beals, opposite of Clancy Brown as the monster Viktor. She was created by Baron Charles Frankenstein and his assistant Paulus. When she sees Viktor, she is revolted. Later on in the film, Eva falls in love with Viktor when he discovers her in the monastery outside of Frankenstein's castle.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994 film)

A version of the character appears in the 1994 film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, played by Helena Bonham Carter. In this version, Victor attempts to revive his wife Elizabeth after she is killed by the Monster by placing her head on the intact body of his hanged servant Justine. He succeeds, but the Monster interrupts their reunion claiming Elizabeth as his own Bride. The transformed and apparently amnesic Elizabeth feels drawn to the Monster and caresses his face. After realizing she has the same scars as he, she understands what Victor did to her. Victor and the Monster fight for Elizabeth, but she feels disgusted with herself. She rejects both men with guttural cries and commits suicide by setting herself on fire.

In other media

Since the original film, characters based on the Bride of Frankenstein have been featured in different media. Unlike the original, most of these later incarnations of the Bride depict her as reciprocating the Monster's affection for her:


  1. ^ "Chapter 20 | Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus | Mary Shelley | Lit2Go ETC".
  2. ^ Vieira, Mark A. (2003). Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-8109-4535-7.
  3. ^ James Curtis (2003). James Whale: A New World of Gods and Monsters. University of Minnesota Press. pp. 243–44. ISBN 978-0816643868.
  4. ^ Vieira, Mark A. (2003). Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 86. ISBN 978-0-8109-4535-7.