It is almost a pity that the story of Frankenstein
is so well known because far too many people neglect to bother reading Mary Shelley’s novel under the assumption that they already know the story. This is a shame because Frankenstein
is beautifully written, very dark and scary but also quite poignant.
Most people have an image of Frankenstein’s Monster as a shambling massive thing with bolts on its neck, going around mumbling GAAHHH GAAAAAH!!! and snapping people’s necks because that is how he rolls. Some people even call the Monster “Frankenstein” which is really a faux pas as that is the name of Victor Frankenstein who created him (though if things had turned out differently and Victor had adopted The Monster as a family member then he would have been rightly called Mr. Frankenstein!).
What happens to Victor’s nearest and dearest is quite horrifying even though all the violence happen “off screen” in that the Monster’s murderous rampage is not described in the narrative, the reader is only shown the final result. Somehow this makes the story even more believable and creepy.
The way I see it the real monster of the story is Victor, not The Monster. Imagine how things would have worked out if instead of making a run for it when the Monster wakes up he welcomes The Monster into the world and help him to finds a place in society. If he is really so ugly just buy him a mask and a hat or something. His reaction also seems to be illogical, while he was stitching the Monster together he must have noticed how fugly the poor thing looks, how is it that he only realizes it as the thing was waking up? How the Monster learns to speak, read and write entirely from observing some neighbors is also not quite believable, it reminds me of Tarzan figuring out how to read all by himself in Edgar Rice Burroughs’ [b:Tarzan of the Apes|40425|Tarzan of the Apes (Tarzan, #1)|Edgar Rice Burroughs|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1349074111s/40425.jpg|1774048]; rather preposterous. That said Mary Shelly’s prose is so beautifully written I was quite willing to suspend disbelief.
Victor is an obsessed mad scientist who runs away from his responsibility and in spite of advance warnings still endangered his family and friends. The Monster is surprisingly eloquent in his speech and comes across as very pitiful and poorly treated by everyone he come across; by his “father” most of all. One point he often comes back to is that he never asked to be born and that if he can not get the love he yearns for he will take revenge as a substitute:
"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed.”
“There is love in me the likes of which you've never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied in the one, I will indulge the other.”
Poor bastard. There are myriad themes in this book, but the most salient one for me is prejudice based on physical appearances. The Monster wants to be loved and accepted can only take so many rejections and abuse before he goes berserk. Victor gave him life but denies him everything else, he is the real villain of the piece.
Mary’s Shelly’s prose is lyrical to the point of being flowery at times. Besides being a morality tale Frankenstein
is also a prototype science fiction book, it is amazing that it is written by the wife of a famous poet. It is a terrible shame that she did not write more novels of this kind. Children may find the language a little too flowery and the narrative does go to some very dark places. However, I would recommend this book to just about everybody else. Certainly I would like to read it again one day.Notes
This book was “listened to” in audiobook format, nicely and graciously read by Caden Vaughn Clegg for Librivox.org (free public domain audiobooks). Thank you sir!(Download link)
Paul McGuigan, the director of Victor Frankenstein (2015)
, said that Mary Shelly's Frankenstein is "as dull as dishwater", what this indicates to me is that McGuigan has no understanding of subtlety or nuances. The simple fact that he made a movie based on a book he neither fully understand or respects is enough for me to avoid it like the plague.