The plot of Tim Burton’s film pivots on an artificial man, Edward (Johnny Depp), created by a weird inventor who died before he could finish Edward, mirroring the bestselling novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. After the Inventor’s death, Edward is left with scissors for hands, until the day Peg Boggs finds Edward in his crumbling gothic hall, and brings him home to live with her family. Yet Edward’s tragic beauty and melancholy make him uncomfortable and unable to communicate effectively, therefore there is no full integration whatsoever with many neighbours. The result is that when at the end he is arrested, people reject him and he will return to his solitary life.
All in all, the movie mixes the features of a funny, tender fable with those of traditional gothic, which is a typical feature of Tim Burton, a director who always contaminates fantasy and horror, the macabre and the supernatural, irony and tragedy.
Edward is at the same time a cyborg, Frankenstein, Beauty and the Beast altogether in a gothic atmosphere. Due to advances in biology and technology, the central villain of modern gothic works can be part one creature and part another, but Edward is not a villain. He is rather an outcast, a romantic, heroic outsider, an outstanding individual, separated from society. These features make him like the hero usually found in the literature of Romantic Age in the late 18th and early 19th century.
Unable to live among men, extremely individualistic and sensitive, Edward is deeply innocent. This innocence, along with his physical deformity (the scissor hands), make him a weird outsider and cause mutual misunderstanding between him and society, which leads to romantic suffering and exile. The same condition was experienced around the turn of the 19th century by many poets of the Second romantic generation.