Study Guide

Young Frankenstein Hero's Journey

Hero's Journey

Ordinary World

Dr. Frederick Frankenstein is content. He has a job as a lecturer at a medical school. He has a beautiful fiancée. Sure, some people still pronounce his name wrong, but nothing is perfect. He pronounces his name differently to distance himself from his famous ancestor, so we have a feeling he'll have to confront his twisted family tree very very soon.

Call To Adventure

And "soon" is now. Frederick learns he has inherited his grandfather's estate. It's a huge haunted castle. You may have seen it (not on Zillow) in a late-night horror movie. In order to claim it, he will have to travel to deepest, darkest Transylvania.

Refusal Of The Call

Frederick pronounces his last name "Fronkenstein" because he wants nothing to do with his family, so he often lashes out at the mere mention of Victor Frankenstein, the man who brought the dead back to life. 

But who can turn down free real estate? Frederick agrees to travel to Eastern Europe to check out the property and decide whether he loves it, or if he'll list it.

Meeting The Mentor

At the castle, Frederick finds himself fascinated with his ancestor's studies. He never expected he would follow in his family's footsteps, but the more he learns about Victor's work, Frederick begins to think that he can do it too… and do it right.

Crossing The Threshold

Frankenstein's castle is one of the few places that has a threshold into a secret passageway. Frederick finds the secret passage behind a revolving bookcase, and it leads him to his grandfather's secret laboratory. Inside, Frederick crosses the threshold between himself and his family, between reality and science-fiction, and between sanity and insanity. He'll never return to the sane side again.

Tests, Allies, Enemies

Frederick is supported by the buxom Inga, the stalwart if somewhat eccentric Igor, and the world champion horse-frightener Frau Blucher. Frederick makes enemies with suspicious townsfolk and Inspector Kemp, who all wonder what's going on in the creepy castle at the top of the hill. Nothing good ever happens in a creepy castle, and they suspect he is continuing his grandfather's work in reanimating corpses, or even doing something worse, like filming a really terrible YouTube show.

Approach To The Inmost Cave

Frederick is already inside the secret laboratory literally, so the inmost cave here is a metaphorical one. It's the moment when Frederick complete descends into madness. 

He sends Igor to retrieve a brain. He digs up a corpse. And he brings it to life. Like starting a fight on a stranger's Facebook page, this is not something sane people do.


Some people have children without thinking it through, and they find parenthood a difficult experience. The same thing happens to Frederick. Pro tip: never have a resurrected corpse without planning it through first. 

Frederick ends up with a man who has the brain of a child and the brawn of Jason Statham. His ordeal is keeping the monster in check, and keeping the townsfolk from finding out what he's done and burning the whole place down.

Reward (Seizing The Sword)

After the monster escapes, Frederick wins him back with music. Confident he can control the monster, he finally embraces his heritage 100%, saying, "My name is Frankenstein!" and pronouncing it the way Mary Shelley intended. However, he must prove his worth, and what better way to do that than with a song and dance?

The Road Back

Frederick is a scientist, so he decides to conduct an experiment. He trains the monster to perform "Puttin' on the Ritz," and presents his little stage show to a group of scientists and other wealthy folk. This scene recalls his time teaching, which is just a different kind of performer for a different kind of crowd. Frankenstein and his monster's "Ritz" has a bit more glitz.


The monster escapes, and the townspeople plan capture him. But Frederick saves him by putting his own life in a danger, which is a very heroic thing to do. He doesn't just risk his life, he risks his mind when he undergoes the transference process and puts a bit of his mind into the monster. The monster is reborn with the intelligence of the scientist, and the scientist gets a little bit of the monster's brutality in exchange.

Life is a balancing act, you know.

Return With The Elixir

Everyone gets a nice reward at the end of Young Frankenstein. Elizabeth pairs off with the monster. Frederick joins Ilsa in matrimony. And the townspeople finally get some peace and quiet. But with Frederick and the monster swapping parts of their brains and personalities, things will never be the same.

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