Beware for I am fearless, and therefore powerful – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein.
A twisted, upside-down creation myth, Mary Shelley’s chilling Gothic tale lays bare the dark side of science, and the horror within us all. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, who plunders graveyards to create a new being from the bodies of the dead – but whose botched creature causes nothing but murder and destruction. Written after a nightmare when its author was only eighteen, Frankenstein gave birth to the modern science fiction novel.
It wasn’t until I was a late teenager that I realised the name of the infamous monster wasn’t Frankenstein, but the name was of its maker, its creator and its father. It’s crazy how the world adopted Frankenstein as the name of the monster and not the man which begs the question: what is the difference between man and monster in Frankenstein? This is also similar to something I wrote in A Level about Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
This is the brain of the English Literature graduate coming out – where we question literally everything in a book in order to make sense of its reflection on the society and its meaning within its era.
The fact is that throughout the book, there isn’t much difference between the man and the monster. Victor Frankenstein was just as bad as his monster in some ways: he played God with a creature of his creation, like the religious story of God and Adam. However, he refused to create another being like his creation out of (rightly) fear for the human race, which led to the frustration, anger, wretchedness and emotional instability of the monster who felt like he could not fit anywhere in the world that he was thrust into. In turn, Frankenstein’s creation plays God with the lives of the people that he kills. Obviously, the monster is much worse than Frankenstein in the way that he murders in revenge, but there are moments in the novel when I feel sorry for the monster. He tries to fit in, love, create friendships and despairs when his father is dead (sorry for the spoiler!). It’s a subject which would have been fantastic to learn more about and research if I had had the opportunity to in university; I wasn’t lucky enough to study Frankenstein.
I also feel for Frankenstein himself – well I do and I don’t. He created this monster as a part of his science and he was so proud of his discovery which was quickly followed by his repugnance of it. He then wallowed and fretted about where the monster was lurking and what would happen next. If he hadn’t have created the monster, he wouldn’t have lost everyone dear to him. On the other hand, he is a normal human being who has made a terrible mistake and has to face the consequences as people have to everyday. I’m sure that there are many scientists who have to deal with the consequences of something going wrong – obviously not to the stake of this fictional character, but consequences nonetheless. Furthermore, he is a character of intelligence and his narrative was interesting, gripping and intense throughout the three volumes of the book.
Aside from the in-depth critical thinking of Frankenstein, I loved the parts surrounding travel and Europe; a subject which always interests me in novels. Frankenstein travels through a lot of Europe for his work, and in pursuit of the monster after the final death of a loved one. Furthermore, the supporting characters in the book each had their own story to tell which I loved; especially the family at the cottage that Frankenstein’s monster cared for during the history of his life.
I can imagine reading this at the time of first publication and being terrified of such a scientific discovery. It’s a thrilling read and one classic that I have thoroughly enjoyed. As I said, I’d love to read more essays surrounding the novel, and finding out more of Mary Shelley’s life.
Rating: 4 stars.
Have you read Frankenstein? What are your thoughts?
Love, Faye x