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In the first three pages of chapter five, in Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein', I can explore in a great extent on how a range of aspects of the novel can be identified to be similar to a Gothic genre. This will also reflect the times in which the novel was written and will relate to many dismal features of other relevant gothic novels.
Mary Shelley was influenced by her personal experiences and this has been reflected in her creation of the novel. She had a strong gothic preoccupation with birth and death which would always be a part of her life. This including the time when her own mother had died giving birth to her and her child died soon after it was born. This is conveyed throughout the extract and can be identified when the character of Frankenstein says,
'I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms.'
It is believed that Mary Shelley wished for her mother to be brought back through the use of Galvanism. This quotation from the extract, along with the overall novel, shows Mary Shelley's ardour for performing this task and creating a novel based on what she most wanted to achieve in her own lifetime.
Additionally, Mary Shelley had maintained enthusiasm for the novel, since ideas were produced from her 'walking dream'. She hoped to capture the essence of fear that she had experienced and this has been exemplified in her novel. The thought of Frankenstein's creation has been explored thoroughly over the decade. She used science as a metaphor for any unexplainable action that had occurred in the novel. Also, as a young girl she was exposed to people with complex scientific discoveries, who used current ideas and contributions. This is reflected when he says,
'I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing.'
This quote suggests the use of electricity is available, however the lack of detail indicates to the reader that the knowledge of electricity in that point in time is limited. This idea has remained popular and is valid to today's science as we suffer from making important decisions including, 'Can we do something?' and if so, 'Should we do it?' taking into consideration the following consequences afterwards.
From another point of view, Mary Shelley's novel is similar to the Greek Myth of Prometheus. This is conveyed in the sense that both characters had created life and played god. Comparisons have also been made between the electricity used in Frankenstein and the fire used in the myth of Prometheus. Both creations caused complications for their creators and they were both punished, despite their creations both being 'good'. As each story progresses, we explore that both morals are 'don't play god.'
It has been made clear to see that many features of the Gothic style are present within this extract. The dramatic events which take place occur on a 'dreary night' which happens to be set in the wintery month of 'November'. This conveys a sense of a classic Gothic novel which is a gothic connotation and is portrayed as a convenient nightmare.
Another example of this, is when he is,
'Drenched by the rain, this poured from a black comfortless sky'
'Drenched by the rain' exemplifies the idea that the atmosphere is uncomfortable and disturbed, which suggests to the reader that it will also be dark. He uses the adjectives 'black and comfortless' to indicate to the reader that the sky is gloomy and supports the gothic genre, that everything is dismal and dreary - relating to the opening line of the extract 'dreary night of November' which is setting the scene to the extract, by clarifying the importance of the setting, ensuring that it is significantly Gothic and can maintain that scenario throughout.
In chapter five, Mary Shelley continues to weave similar gothic influences in her descriptions in how the monster is portrayed by Frankenstein and his reaction to his creations characteristics and appearance.
The appearance of Frankenstein's monster is described when he says,
'His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath'
The adjective 'yellow' implies that his skin was not clean and colour alone would bring disappointment to Frankenstein, due to yellow skin sometimes being associated with a person being neglected or unable to look after themselves. It is ideally a clear separation between people created by 'god' and people created by other people, because yellow is an uncommon skin colour. Also, the way that it 'scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries' portrays to the reader an image which shows muscles and arteries popping out of the monsters skin, all over its body. Alternatively, the phrase could have been used to exemplify the idea that the skin was tightly stretched over the monster's insides, which creates familiar sinister Gothic ideas in physical appearance - where characters have exaggerated details in which the describe the monster's, more towards their wretch-like and demonical qualities.
Similar images are obtained when Frankenstein says,
'His shrivelled complexion and straight black lips'
The adjective 'shrivelled' describes how he would have looked old, conveying a sense of the monster appearing to look scary. This suggests the characters appearance fits with the gothic genre's stereotypical version. Frankenstein would have been disappointed by what he had made, because he would expect for his creation to include a close-to-perfect complexion. This description of the monster would indicate to the reader that the monster looked old and presumably neglected.
Following descriptions of the monster, display the great extent to which negative reactions are approached by Frankenstein to his creation. This reaction is strongly conveyed when he says,
'The beauty of the dream vanished and breathless horror filled my heart.'
There is a strong use of pathetic fallacy when he says, 'breathless and horror filled my heart', because on the one hand, it would make the reader feel apologetic for Frankenstein, but on the other hand, some readers would consider that Frankenstein would have deserved this as he endeavoured the monster. The adjective 'breathless' shows that there is a large contrast between Frankenstein's expectations and the reality of what he had produced. Alternatively, it could mean that he was physically breathless, producing rapidly changing mixed emotions, consisting of being confused and fear.
Likewise, Frankenstein reacts to the monster with similar intentions when he says,
'I felt the bitterness of disappointment.'
He uses the word 'bitterness' to exaggerate how much devastation he experienced when he had seen the monster come to life. Words such as these are used in the extract; support the theme of being gothic. With such negativity, Frankenstein shows signs of anger and disappointment. Alternatively, the word 'bitterness' could have been used to indicate to the reader that Frankenstein is annoyed with himself for putting so much time and effort into making his creation, only to come to the realisation that he hasn't been completely successful and fears what he has made.
The reader would therefore be feeling the negative connection between what Frankenstein would have hoped to be proud of and what he had actually created instead.
Throughout her novel, especially in this extract, Shelley's readers will have a clear message. She has warned them all individually to not become lost in the changes of technology and all of the false perceptions that society has had about the creation of life. Her main message would come across as being, 'be careful what you wish for.' She also would like to convey her attitude towards playing god and the negativity that can occur when any people other than god, tries to create life. We realise these morals and can identify how this is a Gothic novel.
under ciao by d9gymg
Arctic adventurer Captain Robert Walton happens across a desperate man who he rescues and takes on board his ship. The man, a one Victor Frankenstein, befriends the explorer who he feels an almost immediate kinship with. Hearing of Walton's ambitions to reach the North Pole he feels moved to tell the story of how he came to be in such a dire situation hoping it will serve as a cautionary tale for the driven captain.
Victor was inspired from a young age by the writings of ancient alchemists to seek out the secrets of nature. He eventually settles into serious medical science, but the wonderment of his early youth won't leave him and he uses his new practical skills to achieve an incredible singular goal: to create life. This will lead to tragedy. Having been brought up with a loving family and an adopted sister who is destined to be his wife, Victor will experience a life of pain for his selfish actions. Appalled by the "monster" he has created Victor will shun his work, only to have it come back and haunt him with murder and persecution...
"Frankenstein" is a novel that has many fascinating themes. It is the first of the three most influential 19th century horror novels, the other two being "The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde" and "Dracula", and the most diverse. Some of the most popular areas of discussion include its status as a science fiction novel. Mary Shelly remarked that she was inspired by the discussions between her future husband, the great romantic poet Percy Shelly and his close friend, the equally notorious poet, Lord Byron, as they prophesied the scientific developments of the future, including the creation of life. This brings us to the moral question that many see in "Frankenstein", and is even stated by Elsa Lancaster when she played Mary Shelly in James Whale's "The Bride of Frankenstein" in 1935, should man play God? Given her influential husband's rather aggressive stance on religion (Shelly was expelled from Oxford University for publishing a pamphlet on atheism) and Mary's own rather radical upbringing (she was the daughter of two famous progressive thinkers, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft) it's a surprisingly conservative Christian view. Technically speaking, "Frankenstein" is the only one of the previously mentioned horror novels that isn't Victorian, but in this sense it fits in with the moralistic fashion of the latter part of the 19th century.
However, we can also contend that "Frankenstein" turns some Christian thinking on its head. Mary Shelley uses the puritan poet, John Milton's "Paradise Lost" as a strong reference point throughout her novel. The monster sees himself in God's cast out angel, Satan. Despite being the main antagonist of Milton's epic Christian poem and indeed Christianity as a whole, Mary Shelley found sympathy in the character. He was God's favourite and a creation of God who was then shunned for his rebellion. The monster feels unfairly shunned by his creator and incites his own rebellion. Like Satan, he is both melancholic and terribly vengeful.
Mary Shelley's ideas about what makes the monster an instrument of evil has never really left the public consciousness. Years after her work was published psychologists, psychiatrists and criminologists have argued how much nature and nurture has to play in the development of a cognitive living being. Frankenstein immediately believes he has created a monstrosity whereas the monster blames the unprovoked treatment he receives from everyone for the violent and malicious acts he commits. Interestingly James Whale's production of "Frankenstein" in 1931 felt the need to have the monster fitted with a "criminal brain". And even more interestingly Karloff's character still evokes sympathy. If the monster does anything in the novel or in any of its half-decent adaptations, it is to convey a sense of direct and indirect responsibility. In a similar sense so do most serious investigators into criminal psychology.
So what of the merits of the actual novel? The story is rightly held up as a great classic of its genre and beyond. It is pioneering in many ways and undeniably influential. In fact, only "Dracula" can serious compete in terms of brand recognition in the horror world. However, despite Mary Shelley's great literary ability and amazing circle of literary influence, it is worth remembering her work is the product of an 18 year old girl. Her immaturity comes out in the character development. Both Frankenstein and his monster easily have more depth than any other character, but I am not quite sure whether they stray much further than the archetypes they fulfil. "Frankenstein" is a meshing of mythological themes and archetypes. It is not so much a case of Faust is tempted and fooled by Satan as Faust creates Satan. There is nothing wrong with this idea, but Mary Shelley cares little for her reader's credulity. Victor's sudden swing in attitude from the man who creates the monster to the man who is repulsed by his creation is a little hard to believe. He only becomes a driven man once again in his quest to destroy the monster once everything else is taken away from him. Between the creation and his final mission in life, Victor exhibits nothing of his obsessive personality. The monster's story, as told by himself, stretches belief even further. Not only does he self-educate himself in classic literature whilst hiding out in a barn for a relatively short period of time, but somehow the entire family who own the barn are completely unaware of an eight foot monster living virtually on top of them!
Nevertheless, the book is a firm favourite of mine and I guess that mainly comes from the youthful energy Mary Shelley invests in it. That circle of influence I mentioned early on comes through in a beautifully impassioned way. The supporting cast may be two dimensional and transparent devices, but it is the way that Victor and the monster express their feelings for them that makes them important to us. Earlier I compared the novel to the other two great 19th century horror novels. "Frankenstein" is a weightier novel than "Dracula", but not as well written as "The Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr Hyde". There is something of an overload of Mary Shelley's influences that are not always relevant to the story, including the opinions of her mother. However, if I had to choose between them I would choose "Frankenstein" because despite its shortcomings the book offers far more than the humble ghost story Mary Shelley intended it to be.
Frankenstein is a strange novel. I've read it a few times now, and I always enjoy the first half, then hate the other.
It is, rightly so, regarded as classic literature and has assumed its place within the literary cannon for years now. It has been argued as being the very first piece of Gothic literature, and for that Shelley has done a remarkable job.
It was written as part of a game Shelley and her fellow romantic poet friends (such as Samuel 'Rime of the Ancient Mariner' Coleridge, and William Wordsworth) decided to play - and that was to come up with, and write a horror or ghost story. Shelley was the only one that managed to complete the task, and as a result wrote Frankenstein. As her mother was one of the founding feminists, it is interesting to see how Shelley has written the story from the perspective of a man in a predominantly male universe. Women, such as Victor Frankenstein's love interest Elizabeth, are shown in a very 2D way - conforming to the stereotype that women are only good for being nurturers and wives.
If you haven't heard the story by now, here is a brief overview. Victor Frankenstein is an over-reacher who lives in blissful harmony with his family in Geneva. When his mother dies, he decides to journey into the world of science and education to see if he can discover a cure for, or find and answer to one of life's the biggest questions: Why do we live and die? His obsession leads him to create a monster so grotesque and horrifying that he can't bare to stomach being in the same room as it. Suffering with intense grief, Victor flees his laboratory to return home - horrified at what he has just achieved. The monster, on the other hand, educates itself to a point where it can philosophically debate with Victor about its creation and its treatment in the world. It is here that things turn from bad to worse for Victor, as the monster then asks for Victor to create it a female partner...
This is pretty much as far as can get with enjoying the novel. From here, Shelley seems to lose all ability of being creative and entertaining, and the next hundred pages or so GENUINELY are Victor just travveling from location to location, commenting on the sites and on how much sadness he feels.
Shelley does a brilliant job of using meta-narrative and epistolary to make her readers question whether or not Victory is actually a reliable or honourable man. The book is very clever, well written and structured - and definately deserves its place in the literary cannon. I'm unaware of whether or not I am in the same category as everyone else, but the final sections of the book seem nothing more than page-fillers, as the journey around the globe in pursuit of the monster just seems to be ridiculously and unnecessarily lengthy.
It's a classic. It's not in any way, shape or form what you may come to believe from the films - the monster is not called "Frankenstein", it does not have bolts in its neck and not once does Victor ever say "It's alive". It is a brilliant novel that suffers from one minor flaw which seems to bug me enough to warrant it 4 stars, but aside from that - Frankenstein is a book that deserves to be on everyone's bookshelf.
Frankenstein as written by Mary Wollstonecraft is sometimes described as the first gothic novel, first ghost story or first novel in the field of science fantasy. It is all these and more, and though approaching 200 years old is still relevant today.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was the wife of the great romantic poet Shelley, she met Shelley when he was still married to his first wife Harriet. The pair eloped and had a child, whilst away from England they happened to meet Lord Byron and John Polideri in Geneva, Switzerland as a result of one of their conversations she was challenged to write a book acceptable by the masses. So the novel of Frankenstein started to take shape, and as we are in the time when industry was starting to impact on rural england, a novel looking at excess of the pursuit of science appealed.
The book is therefore an expose on the activities of Dr. Victor Frankenstein whose love of science and the neglect of the natural world brings disaster in the creation of the creature. Frankenstein is a man obsessed with taking the act of creation away from god and place it into the hands of man. He realises with the invention of electricity by faraday that electrical currents can move limbs away from a conscious brain, it is that thought which drives his life work.
The book is different in some ways to the usual depiction on screen, firstly the monster isn't made of dead peoples parts but is fashioned in a way never described in the book. Indeed the initial phase of the creation is left deliberstely vague, the only clue is the statement that the man is bigger than normal to allow tinkering with the smaller body parts!! Make of that what you will.
After creation of the monster all is not well, Frankenstein flees appalled by his actions and the monster tries to find him. The rest of the book is more to do with how a man without a past would struggle to believe whats occurring around him without any cultural reference points. This is perhaps an attempt to place the monster in terms of a man travelling from his village idyll to work in the new monstrous cities. The displacement of the populace is driving a class away from their ancestral home away from past and perhaps away from a future.
The monster in truth never has a name, indeed the use of the name Frankenstein for the monster is wrong, the true monster is Dr. Frankenstein for meddling in things he should not.
The novel is more complex than screen interpretations which tended to dwell on the monsters size, brutality and lack of humanity. The novel focuses more on the forces placed on the new person, how the monster begins as a naive gentle creature into a hate filled juggernaut is solely because of the actions of Frankenstein and the society he lives in.
The novel also focuses on the loneliness inherent in the world, here is a man who though manifestly powerful and successful desires something unobtainable, once he forces his wishes into an inappropriate vessel he is repulsed but his actions leave him with no one to confide in and he has to take the guilt with him.
The novels central tenet of playing with Gods creation is still relevant today, scientists pushing the boundaries of nature are creating in some peoples eyes abominations. These creations are often exposed through the oxygen of the media and the truth is sometimes corrupted by those with other agenda's away from the science. Simply put a scientist is now no longer trusted in the same way as perhaps 10 years previously, the sensational headlines over GM food, dolly the sheep have the general population anxious over the future of research. Trust me I know all about this one.
So a novel written almost two hundred years ago is still relevant today.
Looking for a cheerful, love conquers evil, feel good story? Well then look elsewhere for Frankenstein is definitely not for you. For those who enjoy a traditional tense thrilling graphic horror that sets the mind going I would highly recommend this English classic; as it will certainly not disappoint. I am not going to explain the plot in great detail as that will simply spoil it. No I'm going to tell you a little about the novel's background and explain why you should definitely read this thrilling book.
First published anonymously in 1818 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of the most famous gothic novels in the English Language. Written with such passion and intensity it is highly popular with readers due to its ability to set the creative mind on edge. Frankenstein's tale displays thoughts and feelings that many can relate to including:- great success, confusion, love, hate, loss of loved ones, extreme guilt and many more emotions that are all part of everyday life. Its mysterious and thrilling storyline full of anxiety and suspense captures the reader's attention leaving them wanting more.
The gothic romance itself has been adapted countless times into movies, plays and even other books; across the world this tale has become extremely well known and loved.
The fiction itself was dreamed up literally by Mary Shelley whilst she was staying at her friend's estate in Switzerland 1816; during this period she was surrounded by Gothic writers; this acquaintance led to the challenging competition to see who could create the best blood curdling horror story; taking this very seriously Shelley wrote the first draft of her exceedingly famous novel Frankenstein inspired by a nightmare she'd had. The Gothic features of the story include its horrific descriptions, use of overwhelming emotions and unusual, often secluded settings.
The thrilling plot begins almost at the point of its end; a philosopher and arctic explorer named Captain Walton discovers a deteriorating Victor Frankenstein on his way to the poles; as he begins to care for him he hears all about the doctors crazy scientific discovery and is told the sorrowful tale of his mad creation and how it has caused him to be in such a treacherous state.
The novel is extremely effective due to the way it makes you feel every emotion described; it truly brings out key points of love, hate, bitterness, rejection and revenge etc; and is extremely memorable due to:- its shocking events, conflicting atmospheres and ability to entertain throughout.
Written to be incredibly thought provoking, violent, but beautiful at the same time; this blood curdling horror Frankenstein has worked its way into the hearts and minds of many.
Remaining popular due to it's unique plot; Frankenstein's philosophical and extravagant scientific ideas make the novel such a bodacious classic that will never be forgotten.
A must read!
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein explores the idea of the 'creation of life'. The idea of Frankenstein seems to show how man can go too far in his exploration of what constitutes 'life'.Frankenstein' raises the never-ending question of how far is too far in relation to medicine. Frankenstein's monster is in effect a load of body parts put together to form a new being and I'm sure nearly everybody finds the idea of this utterly horrific though nowadays in medicine it is routine procedure to transplant organs from people dead and alive to others... something to think about.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mary Shelley was subject to many a philosophical discussion about the meaning of life and the many great medical advances of the time as her father was a philosopher; this also meant she was exposed to many of the notable thinkers of her day. Some of Shelley's childhood was spent living very close to the abattoirs where she would have regularly seen animals being horrifically slaughtered on a regular basis. She also lived close to a prison where the hanging of convicts was seen as entertainment and there is no limit to the terrible sights she may have been party to there. When Shelley was five or six she heard of experiments being conducted on the bodies of convicts. Electricity was passed through there bodies to make them move (déjà vu?). Philosophy is all about knowledge, ethics and morality; I believe that the ethical lines at the time were definitely blurred as new advances in medicine meant people could effectively experiment on anything or anyone they wanted. All of these ideas of life and death must have had a profound effect on the young Shelley.
It must be noted that parts of Shelley's life bares an uncanny similarity to the things she wrote of in her novel. Her life was riddled with tragedy and altogether she loses her husband, step-sister and three out of her four children die very young. She also nearly dies in childbirth and her husband's wife also commits suicide while pregnant. Death is a very definite theme in 'Frankenstein'.
As a child Shelley was a party to many unconventional ideas as a child and about the nature of life and whether it could be created artificially. It was also suggested in certain discussions that humans rather than God were the masters of the earth: 'Frankenstein' definitely embarks upon this idea. It is in reference to the previous point made in my mind no coincidence that the full title of Mary Shelley's famous work is Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. In Greek myth Prometheus stole fire from the Gods so dared to measure himself up as a one of the Gods. Prometheus punishment was to have his liver plucked out by an eagle everyday and his liver would miraculously grow back every night so the punishment could continue. Similarly Victor Frankenstein also suffers over and over because he dared to become or measure himself up to God. The original concept of Frankenstein was born from the proposal of a ghost story made by Mary's then husband Percy Bysshe Shelley whilst residing on the shores of Lake Geneva.
Frankenstein retells his story to the explorer Walton and his crew but it is almost as if he is speaking directly to the reader. The story begins with us being introduced to the ambitious explorer Robert Walton the captain of a ship heading for the North Pole; we hear of his dangerous expedition, that though starting successfully starts to turn sour. Walton comes across as an ambitious man who is determined to achieve his goal no matter the consequences, he slightly reminds me of our main character. After we are introduced to Walton we come across a dishevelled, drained Victor Frankenstein who then tells us the epic tale of Frankenstein. Even though it is Frankenstein recounting the tale to Walton during the novel Frankenstein's monster becomes the narrator of his specific experiences. I believe this was a conscious decision made by Shelley in order to allow you to understand the plight of the monster: this decision is integral in communicating any kind of sympathy for the monster as Frankenstein's account is very selfishly all about himself and his terrifying experiences. As both Frankenstein and his monster 'talk' to the reader we are given the some-what separate experiences of both of them. Frankenstein is very selfish in the way he thinks only of himself, his disappointment in the beauty of the monster he tried so hard to create, his terrors, his nightmares, his woes at how the experiment he had dedicated so much time to, had turned out. His blatant disregard for effectively deserting this 'child', helpless in the world and his outright rejection of any responsibility for what he has done causes him to lose any of my sympathy. The idea of the monster being a lost child in the world is reinforced by his experiences e.g. , 'A strange multiplicity of senses seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt, at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses.' Frankenstein almost loses his to be wife not to mention his mind though I still find it very hard to empathize with his egotistic, self-centred character.
Frankenstein's extreme displeasure in what his creation and effectively his life's work turned out to be are brought to fruition when we are introduced to the 'monster' for the first time. The 'monster' absconds from Frankenstein's apartment and Frankenstein himself is seized by a terrible fever: in which he seems to be tormented by the 'monster' he created. Shelley uses at this point a lot of imagery and this is how a lot of the horror felt by the very being of the monster is communicated. The descriptive language and imagery at this point communicates the horror felt by Frankenstein after creating such a hideous thing. 'His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was a lustrous black, flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriance's only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.' The language is no doubt really quite dated though it is through it's eloquence that the tale is accurately conveyed. Frankenstein and his 'monster' find each other and themselves over their journey and 288 pages.
The deep moral issue of the 'science' used in Frankenstein has a huge effect on what the reader thinks of Frankenstein. He essentially chops up pieces of different people (mostly convicts), puts them all together and gives it life. I don't believe anybody today reading Frankenstein will find this in any way 'acceptable'. This point ties in with ethical issues that are present today and man's search for knowledge: I believe Shelley intended Frankenstein to show how this thirst for knowledge can go too far. Though Frankenstein consequentially pays for doing this in the most vicious way I had no sympathy for him only really for his family who seem to bear the brunt of Frankenstein's monster's revenge. The fact that the 'monster' is made into a complete outcast and has such a bad time trying to find his way like an 'abandoned child' affects the way in which we respond to the acts he later commits. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was probably before it's time socially with its ideas and themes (e.g. the idea that man can go to far, out casting people for differences etc) she goes against the norm of the time to produce this revolutionary masterpiece. If you haven't yet make sure to read this book!
Few who pick up this book will be unfamiliar with the back story: as a young girl, Mary Shelley created this gothic tale after experiencing a vivid dream and writing the opening as part of a ghost story competition between literary friends. We know this because the writer felt compelled to add a preface explaining how such a young girl was able to create such a horrible tale. So, when I finally settled down to read this famous story, I was expecting a fairly gruesome and horrific story - especially after glimpsing parts of various film adaptations. Could the 'hideous monster' still shock after nearly two hundred years?
Young Victor Frankenstein, a naturally talented scientist, plays God in spectacular fashion by creating a living creature. This is an act that he immediately regrets: he spends the remainder of his life trying to cope with his actions and their seemingly unstoppable consequences. As the story continues, the body count rises and Frankenstein becomes increasingly disturbed by what he has set in motion.
The story has three main sections: the framing device, Frankenstein's story, and his creation's story. I found the framing device exceedingly dull, partly because I wanted to get to the main story, but also because it is so uneventful. A captain sets out on a mission across the ocean towards the pole. He writes to his sister about how he has organised the voyage and eventually about a stranger he meets. It is a relief when the mysterious stranger, who is, of course, Frankenstein, takes over the narration - although there is still a lot of narrative exposition regarding his education before the creature is designed and animated. Personally, I also found this section very dull, but it is ultimately useful in establishing the importance of the limited close relationships that Frankenstein possesses.
I was anticipating the 'making of the monster' section so much that I almost couldn't believe my eyes when I realised that it was encapsulated into a few bare lines. Watching extracts from the various films, and reading Philip Pullman's excellent adaptation for children, had led me to expect a dramatic, atmospheric scene which would live in my memory for weeks. Instead, the whole focus is on Frankenstein's horrified response to the monster and subsequent extended illness. I had to reread the relevant paragraph to ensure that I had not missed some lines of importance. Frankenstein's explanation for this scarcity of detail is that he does not want anyone else to be able to duplicate his work. Shelley's reason is harder to fathom, but presumably is connected to her desire to focus on the consequences rather than the act itself. I did find this section disappointing because it was so different to my expectations, but the logic is sound. For me, the story lacked any real interest until the third section, when the creature's story is told.
I found Frankenstein to be a largely unsympathetic character, primarily because he appeared so incapable of recognising any genuine responsibility to his creation. He blames the creature entirely, which may seem acceptable until the middle third of the book where the creature tells his own story and humanity's - and Frankenstein's - shameful rejection of him becomes apparent. Indeed, the creature's story is genuinely compelling: I wished that the young family he helped would be able to see past his deformity to the goodness nestling in his heart. This was the only part of the story that captivated me, as I learned how the creature had survived and struggled to find a way to live with humanity. The creature's sophisticated grasp of language seems unrealistic when considering his history, but fits with his subtle understanding of culture and morality. Although his creator has rejected him as evil, Shelley makes clear to the reader that the creature's motivations are not intrinsically awful, and this is what finally gives the story its complexity.
After this interruption, the account of Frankenstein's final efforts to outwit his tormentor seemed quite dull to me, presumably because I am used to reading more active, less reflective writing styles. No matter how often the characters stated that they were horrified or terrified or felt similar emotions, the lack of description meant that I could never sense their terror, and so I was always listening to the story rather than imagining it. For me, this meant the story was a bit of a failure in terms of enjoyment. I had to really concentrate to keep reading and found the book easy to put down.
However, the ideas in it are still highly relevant today. The creature's account of his failure to find empathy in mankind is a damning indictment of the kind of communities we tend to live in: insular, cold, making clear divisions between insiders and outsiders, the physically attractive and the less desirable. Frankenstein's thoughtless creation and helpless repentance encourage us to consider carefully the choices we make too easily in today's world, always favouring progress above caution. I did enjoy the way the storyline made me consider these issues and feel that this made it worth reading.
I would recommend this story to anyone with an interest in these issues, but would advise potential readers to be aware that such an incredibly dramatic premise is presented in almost stately prose, reducing horror to melodrama. Of course, this is one of the inaugural 'gothic' tales, which were originally conceived as melodramatic, Romantic tales, rather than the kind of horror stories we are more familiar with today. Perhaps more empathic readers will still feel a chill down their spine as they read about Frankenstein's terror and remorse.
Everybody seems to think that they know the story of Frankenstein. Strange scientist man creates big monster thing, has disastrous consequences, right? Well, not quite. There is a lot more to it than initially meets the eye...
Written by Mary Shelley in 1818 (which explains the complex, 'proper' English which is used throughout the book), although many thought it was actually written by Percy Shelley, as it was deemed anonymous until 1823, the reason for this story was actually a competition set by her husband Percy Shelley as to who could write the best ghost story. However, I would say this is more than just a ghost story. "The Modern Prometheus" as it is also known, although featuring many gothic elements, and some of what happens will leave you feeling slightly vulnerable, it's not a typical ghost story. The idea of creating something is much more relevant in today's society than ever before. When cloning is becoming something fairly real, and the idea of making things which work like people becoming more and more popular, maybe this novel becomes more relevant rather than less.
Many people seem to be mistaken of the idea that Frankenstein is the name of the creation. This is not the case. Frankenstein is in fact the scientist 'Victor Frankenstein' and throughout the book the creation/monster/creature, whatever you wish to call it, is never actually given a name.
The beginning of the book starts off slightly confusingly. When I first tried to read this, I was extremely put off by the letter-format at the beginning, which shows letters from an arctic explorer, Walton, home to his sister, explaining how he has met someone called Victor Frankenstein and has rescued him as when he found him very weak, chasing after someone before him.
The book continues in chapters rather than letters, and is told from Frankenstein's point of view for most of it, as he is relaying the story of what has happened to him to Walton. As he tells the story of a 'creature' and the problems it caused him. The feelings which I had towards Frankenstein were mixed. From seeing what he went through as a child, it was obvious that his idea of creating human life was justified; however, the pure rejection which he faced the creature with was almost disgusting. Understandable, the end result of the creature was not what he was expecting, but in a way, his creation appears like a child, and the way which he rejects it is heart-breaking. It makes me think that maybe if he hadn't rejected it, the creature may not have changed and destroyed Frankenstein's life in such a way.
The characters in this book are very strong. Frankenstein and the creature obviously feature a lot, and the way which you feel about them is important to how you view the novel. Although they are incredibly different characters, I found myself being able to identify with both of them in different ways. The way which Frankenstein feels obliged to continue with his creation no matter what shows extreme passion for something. Also, the creature's main need being somebody to love him is important, and something which I'm sure every person feels at some time in their lives.
I started studying this novel at A-Level as part of a gothic paper, so I was told to only look at it for the gothic elements, but I think this is difficult. The characters are strong, the storyline is encapsulating and you'll find it difficult to put down. Despite the fact that everyone thinks they know what 'Frankenstein' is about, it is so much more than everybody thinks! Frankenstein is actually a lot more heart-wrenching and meaningful than people seem to expect. It's extremely well written and actually continues to keep you interested throughout - even myself, who hates anything vaguely frightening, found this a must finish.
A main theme which occurs in 'Frankenstein' which I think is important is the idea of good vs. evil. However, at times the lines between good and evil can be blurry and difficult to distinguish. The way in which the creature is created is wrong, and although this does not encourage the way in which he behaves, the neglect which he faces from Frankenstein surely does not help the way he faces life, and also makes Frankenstein appear in a more sinister light. It's difficult, and I'm sure everybody has their own opinion on who is to blame for the issues which occur throughout the book.
I won't go in to the horrific incidents which occur throughout the book, because as a reader they do sometimes come as a surprise, and I wouldn't want to ruin them. Also, I would say that, having seen the film 'Mary Shelley's Frankenstein' it is nothing like the book. The book is better. The descriptions which occur throughout the book are phenomenal. The way in which areas and parts of the story are described are beautiful, and it makes me wonder why women writers' were so looked down upon in that time. Luckily, Mary Shelley proved them wrong with this gem, and it is definitely worth the read.
The version which I have is 'complete and unabridged' apparently, and features many notes and information about the author etc. However the story itself is merely 157 pages long, which isn't that long when you think about it.
In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein you can see how the influences of her life and the world around her affect the characters and plot of "Frankenstein". For example Mary Shelley's mother died of puerperal fever when she was just 10 days old. This is influences the book because Frankenstein's mother dies in childbirth. Another thing that Mary Shelley was influenced by was the stories she grew up with. Mary Shelley was born in London 1797 she started writing Frankenstein when she was only 18 years old; it was later published when she was 21. Mary Shelley was probably influenced by great scientists like Luigi Galvani, who made a frog jerk its leg by passing an electric current through it. You can see how this affects the story because the way that Frankenstein brings back the monster is by passing an electric current through its legs. Mary Shelley also creates sympathy by writing in the first person, this connects the reader with the characters in a way that they start to feel what the characters feel, which makes "Frankenstein" more of a reading experience.
Overall I feel sorry for Frankenstein's monster, because of the way that he was branded as a monster even though he had done nothing wrong. The way that he was treated by humans, probably was the cause of him turning into a monster. So in a way humans actually made him into the monster he is. Another way that makes you feel sorry for him is that it feels that nature itself is against him because he is unnatural himself. I also feel sorry for Frankenstein because he didn't mean for any of this to happen and so many of his friends and family die because of it which is a bit extreme for something that he didn't even mean to do. Someone I feel sorry for as well is Frankenstein's wife Elizabeth, because Frankenstein just keeps her in the dark about all the things he's done, and he also treats her for granted. And in the end she dies because of his actions.
In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein she makes the reader empathise with the characters. For example in chapter 5 she makes the reader feel afraid for doctor Frankenstein by saying "It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs." The fact that it's one in the morning means that its very dark and the only light in the room is almost burnt out so he will be left alone in the dark not being able to find his way around. She also makes the description of the monster is quite scary as well, especially the part where she says that it's eyes are yellow which makes it seem inhuman and unnatural. She Then goes on to describe the rest of them monsters appearance "His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips." This description makes the reader feel very afraid for doctor Frankenstein because the monster he's created is so disgusting and ugly it can't be anything but a monster that wants to harm and kill you. Later in the chapter she makes us feel quite sorry for the doctor by saying "I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart." This creates sympathy for the doctor because he had spent so much time and effort on this experiment and in the end he realises that he's just wasted his time.
In chapter 16 Mary Shelley makes the reader feel many emotions towards the Frankenstein's monster but the predominant one is sympathy. "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? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants, and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery." In this sentence you start to feel sympathy for the monster because he hates himself, but he then goes on to say that he could have killed the people in the cottage for pleasure which makes the reader afraid of the monster and what it could do to them. She then goes on to make us pity the monster by saying "There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me" which shows how alone that he is and that how horribly he has been treated by humans. She really emphasises that fact by having the monster try to kidnap Frankenstein's little brother William so that he would have someone to talk to and someone who wasn't afraid of him. This suggests that he is insecure and vulnerable \about adult humans. It's also interesting that he tries to befriend a child rather than an adult, because after all he is actually a child. But he has an adult brain in him. I think the worst thing that happened to the monster is that Frankenstein didn't give him a name and can only be referred to as "The monster". I believe that it was the fact that he didn't have a real name and the only thing that he was called was the monster, so he started to believe that he was a monster and he wanted to make people to pay for what they had turned him into.
To conclude I think Mary Shelley invites the reader to sympathise with both Frankenstein and his monster, and make us decide which one is really the monster. I think neither of them are monsters because what Frankenstein did by creating the monster was a purely honest mistake. A mistake that he had to pay with his life and the lives of his friends and family. I believe that the penalty was far too harsh and he didn't deserve all of it. After all he is a good man and was trying to save people from death which would be a wonderful thing. On the other hand you have the monster which is treated so badly and cruelly from the day that he was born, and treated like the monster that everyone thought he was. Effectively the monster is in fact just a baby and when babies are born the way they learn is by copying things they see. So when the only thing the monster sees is violence and hatred, that is the only thing that he knows. In the end I think that the message that Mary Shelley asks throughout her book is "what is a monster".
I read this book a while ago, and it was quite interesting and very different from any other. It follows the genre, being gothic about the creation of this monster. It is very well-written and follows ths story of the student and his creation, before feeling the need to destroy it after feeling disgusted and deprived of his family and wife. It is an excellent story, but not for those who aren't into the horror genre.
I decided the best way for me to review such a book was to pick
out my favourite extract from the book, which I feel has a lot to talk about. It is the extract from when Victor (the student) has finally finished creating his desire. I think it is an extract of great significance and importance that I enjoyed reading.
Right from the beginning of the extract, it is clear to the reader that this is of the gothic genre. 'It was on a dreary night of November' - 'dreary' gives the feeling of dullness and the fact that it is November in winter adds a bitter tone to the piece, later emphasised by the dreadful weather. We are also informed that the narrator had been working hard on some kind of project. As the text progresses, the narrator says he 'might infuse a spark into the lifeless thing'. The use of the adjective 'lifeless' brings a daunting feeling to the reader and we begin to wonder why he is going to infuse a spark on something lifeless. The fact that it was called a 'thing' also brings peculiarity and mystery to the tone. The typical gothic nature of this text is further emphasised by the time - 'already one in the morning'. The weather is described as miserable when it says 'the rain pattered dismally against the panes'. It brings a very fed-up feeling to the text and brings the idea that the narrator is weary. Towards the end of the first paragraph, the 'thing' seems to horrifyingly come to life. 'I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open, it breathed hard.' The adjective 'dull' makes it seem boring yet terrifying as it has a yellow eye. This image created in our head mimics the image of a zombie, which is then emphasised by what is said next. 'A Convulsive motion agitated its limbs' - The use of the pronoun 'its' brings back the feeling that it is just a thing, making it more frightening that this thing is actually coming to life. It is also described as having spasms, which are quite disturbing and scary. By the end of the first paragraph, the text leaves the reader on the edge of their seat.
The next paragraph is full of irony as the monster is described as beautiful in the narrator's eyes, but described with off-putting words. 'His hair was of a lustrous black' brings the feeling of beauty but is ironic as black is a very dark and boring colour in itself, and this colour also brings emphasise on the gothic genre of the text. The monster's eyes are described as 'watery...that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set'. The watery eyes suggest sadness and bring a very low and negative tone onto the text. His eyes are described the same colour as his sockets as a brown-white colour, bringing on a worryingly abnormal look. 'Black lips' are very peculiar and off-putting, also very gothic. The paragraph finishes by describing his complexion as shrivelled, making the monster appear as old, unattractive and quite frankly, hideous.
The third paragraph is very different from the first two, as the narrator manages to make us feel sorry for him, for he deprived himself 'of rest and health'. The narrator has come to realisation of what he has created, now that he had finished - 'the beauty of the dream had vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart'. The fact that he is disgusted is very contrasting from the last paragraph where he was pleased with the beauty of his creation. He is now of horrified disapproval of the monster he had created, as well as having rundown his rest and health. Unable to endure what was created, he rushes out of the room to his 'bedchamber'. Instead of bedroom, the use of the word bedchamber makes it seem uncomfortable and rather like a prison or castle, which adds on to the gothic genre and gloomy tone. In hope to forget what he had created, he falls asleep to be 'disturbed by the wildest dreams'. It is then explained how he dreamt of confronting his wife, Elizabeth. 'I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death.' The adjectives 'livid' and 'hue' give the image of her lips slowly fading to be discoloured and bruised. It leaves me with the image of Elizabeth slowly turning cold and lifeless, bringing back the images from the monster. It is quite terrifying that the narrator's mind has been taken over by these ghastly images.
'I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form'. This is a very shocking and worrying thought to be holding a cold, lifeless corpse in your arms who is your own mother. The narrator states that 'a shroud enveloped her form', and the fact that the word 'form' is used brings back the sense that she is just a 'thing' and totally lifeless with no significance shown by a rough outline of her form. Furthermore, 'grave-worms' are described to be crawling in the folds of the flannel. This makes us imagine that such a putrid corpse has been heaved up from the grave with spiteful little insects. The narrator goes on to describe his feelings as he dreamt with a listing effect. 'Every limb became convulsed' links back to the way the monster was described at the beginning of the extract. He is comparing himself to the monster, because it has messed up and disturbed his mind so much. This extract ends with a personification of 'the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window shutters' and the narrator describing the monster as a 'wretch - the miserable monster who I had created'. This ending brings much contrast to the earlier text where he is appreciating and describing the beauty of his creation. The tone here is very much different, as he is quite ashamed of the 'miserable' monster, which he had created making it seem dull, pointless and useless.
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- Available at Amazon.co.uk for £1.80
- Available in shops for under £5.00
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Thanks for reading,
- Recon -
To preface this review: this isn't so much a review of the book, but rather a recommendation of which edition to buy, since there are literally tens of them on the market!
It's a bit odd that Dooyoo only offer only one version of a novel to review, because there's a big difference between different editions of a text (though many people who haven't studied English at college don't realize this!). Next time you're looking at a literary classic published by Penguin or OUP, have a flick through to front of the volume, and you are likely to find a 'Note on the Text'. This will tell you where the editor has got the text from, and should outline the principles on which the text has been produced. Read several of these, and it'll soon become clear that there are a lot of different schools of thought about what constitutes an "authoritative" text! One edition of a novel can be really very different to another.
The thing with Frankenstein is that Mary Shelley revised the text fairly extensively. The novel was first published in 1818, and this is generally the book studied by students of the Romantic period (literature from about 1780 to 1830). However, Shelley went through and made some fairly substantial alterations in 1831. A lot of cheaper editions of this book won't tell you which text you're reading. Does that make a difference? Well yes it does, especially if you're interested in cultural history. If you want to know the version that was read by Percy Shelley, Byron, Austen (etc.), then you need 1818. If you want to know what exactly Mary decided to change in response to the more Victorian mindset of 1831, then you might need to compare both!
So what would I recommend? Well, Oxford University Press publish the 1818 edition, very well edited by Marilyn Butler. It's cheap at around £4 from Amazon, and it's a proper scholarly job with a good introduction and notes for first time readers.
There's also a terrific, but more expensive edition published by Broadview Press and edited by D.L. Macdonald & Kathleen Scherf, which retails for around £12 (the price varies because it's an American publisher). This also uses 1818 as the copytext (the "basis" for the edition), and contains a very illuminating introduction and comprehensive notes. For A-level and degree students, this extra material will make a real difference to essays.
Personally, if you're studying this novel, I would advise you to avoid any version that doesn't state which text you're reading and isn't edited by someone who is an expert. (Celebrities and novelists are really entertaining, but there's some difficult historical context to grapple with if you really want to understand this book, so helpful notes are very handy).
Hello my name is Robert, some of you may recognize me from my other writings on other sites including my review of "Roger and Me" by Michael Moore. Some of the people who may recognize me are CarlyPussycat and NurseBeatty all good people I know. Unfortunately I came to Dooyoo because my reviews as of late have been revenge rated by one user, apparently he has done this before, and gotten away with it. Anyhow, look for many of my reviews to be on Dooyoo for the time being. This review I am very proud, not only received well but actually this was part of a thesis which got me a B in the private school that I went to. Enjoy. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, the famous novel by her, probably her best work despite her turbelous and personal history (she had a child out of wedlock and her relationships didnt last). The book was made into a slew of Hollywood remakes from the earl 1930's version with Boris Karloff to the more modern one with Kenneth Brannagh (which is closer to the novel that previous movies). This is one amazing novel, it literally impacted many writers both male and female to come. Even more amazing is that Shelley was only 18yrs old when she wrote this novel. She truly was gifted and "Frankenstein" despite it being one of her few great works still cemented for Shelley as a great writer. I've been asked why I love this book and it's quite simple, Shelley's takes an obscure plot, a man , Victor Frankenstein, a scientist using a dead cadaver to create life and bettering mankind creates a monster that terrorizes mankind. Shelley thus takes this simple plot , and turns into a complex story with many different twists. Beyond that, she uses this story to address some serious issues, all of which I will cover in this review: Women's right, prejudice against those who are different from the rest of us, the battle of good vs. evil and of course do we have the righ
t to sacrifice lives like Frankenstein does in the name of science? Shelley was ahead of the times she addressed many key issues that we have discussed even to to this day, so in effect I love her works because she was a visionary and to some extent almost a psychic predicting certain trends that would impact society as a whole for many years to come.: If you watched the old Universal 1930's version with Karloff you think you know what the book is about. Dr. Frankenstein creates a monster because he is mad and wants to rule the world. The monster is hideous and ugly and wants to kill everything. He does meets a blind man who seems to recognize the monster and little girl whom the monster kills after the girl scream. Everyone dies at the end. That's it. No that's not it, in fact it's hard to put in one paragraph why "Frankenstein" has become the timeless classic. In a couple of sentences, the novel brings many social messages into view and makes the audience through the character ponder these questions. By the end of the novel, some questions get answered, however some don't. Shelley leaves many parts of the novel open for interpretation (like Shakespeare did with his plays) so people could come with their own views The novel showcases the fight of "good vs. evil". But who is exactly evil, the intelligent but evil and unmoral Dr. Frankenstein or the hideous monster who has been scorned by society for his looks (like the Elephant Man). The novel showcases the question of "creation", more specifically "the creation and ending of life". Does Dr. Frankenstein have the right to do what he does with body parts in creating this being? Is Frankenstein's intention to create a serious of super beings to rule the world? Why doesn't Frankenstein come forward for being the one responsible for the monster, when several murders including his family members get
murdered by the hands of the monster? As you can see Shelley's poses us with some serious questions some of which impact us as a society, questioning our morals? I loved this because questioning our morals nowadays seems to be at the bottom of our priorities (See Iraqi prison scandal). Some of the intriguing questions directed at us as potential scientists if we have the right to some extent go against God and create our own race of beings in our image? Who really is the monster here. Us or the monster? Take this passage from Ch 7 of the novel ( Frankenstein regrets the creation of the monster after the death of William: "My imagination was busy in scenes of evil and despair. I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind, and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror, such as the deed which he had now done, nearly in the light of my own vampire." This is a great passage one of many of which the Dr. despite his good intentions into creating a being and a work of science to be studied for generations to come, creates a monster resulting in an awry and failed experiment and who now has basically crushed the Dr.'s reputation. However as we read the novel we see that Dr. Victor Frankenstein did not care about the repercussion that might come from creating the monster. In fact to use a modern example. The Ego of the Dr. is even bigger and hideous than the monster himself. Take this passage again from the novel. "Did any one indeed exist, except I, the creator, who would believe, unless his senses convinced him, in the existence of the living monument of presumption and rash ignorance which I had let loose upon the world?. Lol. As you can see by calling himself the creator and such the Dr. has now put himself on a great pedestal to that of the Allmighty, God. Of course after the Monster goes on his rampage the Dr. with ego and
all fall hard to the fact that he has failed as both a man and scientist. In fact this aspect of the Ego and ambition of Dr. Frankenstein to cement himself as a god, is used in many tests and essays for which this great novel is used. In fact, Shelley herself it has been confirmed as a credible theory in explaining her motivations for writing the novel do give the fact she wrote the novel as an attack on selfish scientists and poets. Specifically attacking for trying to achieve their own individual glory and prestige at any price. One big difference between "Frankenstein" the novel vs. the movie is the character of Robet Walton who does not come out at all except in the Kenneth Brannah version. Both Walton and Victor are greatly interested in knowledge, for Victor it is the science of making mankind better, while for Walton is ihe knowledge and enjoyment of the sea. However, both characters dreams similiarly both don?t turn out the way they want it to be. Victor's original dream of bettering mankind turns into a deadly nightmare. During this acquiring of the sea, on his expedition is where Walton finds Victor Frankenstein barely alive on the snow, next to a couple of snow dogs. Walton saves Victor from certain Death, takes a vested interest upon Victor?s life, and ultimately serves as the lead narrator in telling the story of Frankenstein, and the monster as shown in the preface of the novel. Victor then starts recalling the events of the monster , the murders , his own blunders in creating the monster. All this of course leads to one last confrontation between Dr. Frankenstein and the Monster. The other big difference between "Frankenstein" the novel vs. the movie is the monster itself. In Boris Karloff version the monster is displayed as mute and possibly retarded on some long incapable of though, but in novel the Monster is incredibly smart and intelligent. I loved this as well becau
se the monster had the intellectual capacity to challenge Frankenstein and point not only the error of his way but show that the good old Dr. was not better than him. In fact maybe Dr. Frankenstein was the real monster in story. The monster was a ?pawn? in his game for his own self ego. Spanning over 24 chapters, "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley as you can read is a great epic filled with many social implications and questions. Shelley really exposed at the 18th century incredible questions for us to think about loud and hard, however many of these questions we are still grasping with today in 2004. Creation in our times is some ways familiar to our obsession in cloning and stem cell research. Sure most of our curiosity in scientific treatment but there many people would like to clone themselves. As I am sure of the fact that they're are many people with the type of ego that Victor Frankenstein, someone pursuing selfish interest without any thought if our actions will hurt let alone kill another innocent person. It's no wonder Mary Shelley's is as fascinating to read today as it was when it was first published, it's just a great philosophical and intellectual work in all forms. I think that I've covered not why Frankenstein is a great work and I love it, but why this is such an important work today. If you read many bad books lately and looking for something challenging and thought provoking to read, look no more than "Frankenstein".
The tale of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he creates has been told time and time again in numerous films. My education seemed sadly lacking in that I had never read Mary Shelley?s original story and found out about the original scientist and his inhuman creation. And so I embarked upon Shelley?s tale of man?s inhumanity to man, divine powers, revenge and retribution. The story started as merely a tale to be told at parties or around the fire on a dark winter?s evening but, encouraged by her husband, Shelley expanded her story into a novel. Was that novel worth the fame it has accrued? THE PLOT Arctic explorer, Robert Walton, is traversing the icy seas on an expedition to the North Pole, when he comes across a lone man whom he takes aboard his ship. This man is Frankenstein who then tells his story to Walton. It is in the form of letters from Walton to his wife, recounting his new friend?s narratives, that the story is divulged. Frankenstein travels to Geneva to study science and whilst doing so embarks upon an experiment to create human life by constructing a body composed entirely of bits of dead corpses. Remarkably his experiment results in success but Frankenstein is suddenly struck by the hideous nature of his creation and is at a loss as to how to proceed. Fortunately for Frankenstein the monster vanishes from his laboratory one afternoon while he is absent and it would appear that his troubles are over, however, we soon find out that they are just beginning. Some time later as he is on his way home Frankenstein catches sight of a hideous being, surely his own creation? When, a few miles later, he arrives home and learns that his youngest brother has been strangled to death, he fears that is his own creation that has wrought this terrible deed. Frankenstein meets with the monster who relays his tale of what he has done until that time. Due to his hideous appearance he has been unju
stly spurned by human society and hated and feared. He has grown to loathe himself and, more than that, to hate his creator. His sole remaining purpose in life is to destroy the man who created him. THE SCIENTIST Many would argue that unpleasant and often morally dubious experiments are sometimes required to further man?s knowledge in the realms of medical science, to discover cures for diseases and to gain information on the workings of the human body. However, Frankenstein does not really give any in depth reasons as to why he should want to embark upon the creation of human life. We are aware that his mother died and we could theorise that this death of a close beloved relative could have inspired a desire in him to fight against lifelessness and attempt to instil life in lifeless beings. However, this is certainly not stated and it seems strange that a scientist would embark upon such a morally questionable experiment without having strong convictions as to the benefits it would have and with little or no inward debate but this is exactly what Frankenstein does. Once the monster has been created Frankenstein is appalled by its hideousness and is relieved when it escapes. He behaves utterly irresponsibly. He has taken no attempts to take care of his creation or to acclimatise it to life or society and upon its escape instead of trying to find it and give it assistance, he washes his hands of the entire affair and is happy to quit the country with no idea as to the location of the being to which he has given life. In addition to the accusations that can be levelled at Frankenstein of flippancy and irresponsibility are those of cowardice and selfishness. After the monster has committed one murder an innocent young girl is charged with the crime. Frankenstein knows the real culprit to be the monster and yet remains silent as he fears that his explanation would be regarded as madness. So, in order to retain the respect
of his peers he remains silent and allows a child to be judicially executed. In addition to these character traits, if one needed any more to be convinced of the nature of the ?hero?, Frankenstein keeps his past experiments hidden from those closest to him. He is happy to lie to his friends, his family and his fiancée, even though their knowledge could have warned them that they themselves were in danger. THE MONSTER Frankenstein?s monster sets off into the world as an innocent. He has no knowledge of society, no grasp of language and no concept of verbal or written communication. From the start he is a clean sheet, ready to be drawn on and shaped by those he encounters and their treatment of him. The first time he encounters a village he is chased out violently by humans who are disgusted and prejudiced by his hideous appearance. Just because he is ugly does not guarantee that he is evil but we soon learn that humans are very judgmental and prejudiced without foundation. On the next occasion the monster comes across human life he saves a little girl from drowning, only to be repaid with a beating from her father. The monster eventually finds shelter in a hut from where he can observe the lives of a poor family and from observation of them he slowly begins to read and write. At this point a little willing suspension of disbelief is required as a being with not a single word to his vocabulary transforms within weeks into a fluent French speaker who can read Milton?s ?Paradise Lost? to himself! Finally he is driven out and beaten by this family also and his trust in mankind turns to hatred and revenge. Who can blame him? His actions have always been harmless or benevolent and yet he has been met at every turn by violence and hatred. If this is to be mankind?s treatment towards him, is it any surprise that he should set out to wreak harm upon mankind? In fact, the monster narrows his aims to the dest
ruction of his creator and although innocents do die, their deaths are always aimed at harming the scientist. We have to ask ourselves, who is more the monster: a naïve being rejected by society, pre-judged, ostracised and abhorred or the man who made him with little thought to the consequences and with no attempt to acclimatise him to society? THE TELLING First published in 1818, the novel is written in a very formal and almost an unnatural style of prose. However, this is only to be expected and once the reader has got used to this it does not interfere in the narration and if anything concentrates the reader?s mind and emphasises the gravity of the tale. Often Shelley does not go into enough detail in her story telling. The details of Frankenstein?s experiment, the origins of the body parts and the method of animation are almost non-existent. One could of course argue that Shelley was not a scientist and so any description would have been foolhardy, or that she is leaving the details to the reader?s imagination. However, not even enough detail is provided to whet the imagination of the reader and to set the mental cogs in motion. These omissions are relatively minor when compared with the main themes of the novel. Society?s treatment of the monster and his reaction to the abuse is outlined clearly and yet subtly, leaving the reader to draw his own conclusions and yet with the information plainly set out before him. The bitter irony and obvious unfairness and hypocrisy of the situation is self evident and the reader will be left feeling more sympathy for the monster than for his creator. Due to these themes it is no wonder that the book has inflamed the imaginations of filmmakers and story tellers for over a century since. The book is indeed a ?classic? and well worth a space in anyone?s library. FROM MILTON?S ?PARADISE LOST? ?Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me man? D
id I solicit thee from darkness to promote me??
Perhaps considered by many to be the original, archetypal ghost story, Frankenstein or *The Modern Prometheus has become synonymous with mad scientists and evil monsters. This seminal piece of writing has gone on to spawn a thousand imitations, lodging itself very firmly in everyday folklore that has a very special place in the modern day psyche I read Frankenstein with the inevitable notion of comparing it to Stoker's Dracula. I have to say that the two books are very different albeit both lit a flame in a literary sense that still burns brightly today. With Frankenstein being so well known it's worth giving a brief introduction to its writer - Mary Shelley. Born in 1797, the daughter of William Godwin & Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary went on to become one of the world's most renowned writers. Her parents were both radical writers of their day providing something of an influence to the talented Mary. She met the then unknown, Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1814 with whom she eloped to the continent In 1816, residing on the shores of Lake Geneva, Percy suggested a ghost story competition inspiring Mary to start her original work. Subsequently finished in England, the book was initially met with mixed reviews on its publication. Its interesting to note that most people thought that the book had been written by Percy Shelley following its original publication in 1818 as the author remained anonymous until its second edition in 1823. So, to the story. Set on a ship sailing in the far north, Captain Walton sends a series of letters to his sister, Margaret back in England. He recounts the stran gest of tales as the story unfolds. Surrounded by ice, the ship encounters two men. The first was seen traversing the ice on a sledge pulled by dogs described as "...the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature.." Having lost him on the horizon, a short while later the captain picks up a second man found drifting tow
ards the ship on a make-do boat. Somewhat amazed to find anyone so far north, Captain Walton sits down with the stranger to hear his story. Of course, the stranger is Frankenstein of the book's title. In a series of broken tales over the course of a week, Frankenstein guides the spellbound captain through a maze of murder and intrigue. Responsible for the creation of a "human being", Frankenstein's experiment with nature backfires creating an abomination that he immediately rejects. The creature leaves its birth site only to come back to pursue its master for a solution to its ills. The two meet up in the shadow of Mount Blanc where the creature re-creates its steps for its master since its "birth", telling him of it's efforts to be accepted by man only for them to be doomed to failure. Subsequent rage and despair had led the creature to murder Frankenstein's young brother as retribution for the indignation felt by its abject rejection at the hands of man. The creature's request is simple - make me a mate and I will disappear from your life forever. Frankenstein initially agrees but then goes back on his word and so releases an explosive chain of events that shake the very foundations of its master's life and the lives of those close to him. So why is Frankenstein so popular, even now? Well, there is no laboratory scene with weird machines and lightening conductors. The creature itself is only described in the vaguest terms with no real description of how it came about. There are certainly no references to piecing together dead body parts seemingly derived from the infamous Burke and Hare. Needless to say, there has been a great deal of license taken with the story over the years. In its simplest form; Frankenstein seems to be the age-old struggle of good versus evil. Frankenstein is the good doctor who has made a naïve blunder in his creation whilst the iconic monster is typically repellent with
a vicious streak resulting in a trail of destruction. However, as you read Frankenstein you realise the boundaries are far more blurred that at first glance. After all, the creature didn't ask to be created and it was hardly its fault that it came to be known as a daemon. Its motives are simply inclusion, which is one of the most basic forms of human rights. It's hard to decide whether the creature is the aggressor although its appetite for revenge does seem extreme. This conflict of motives is found pivotal at the meeting at Mount Blanc where, having listened to the creature's entreaties, Frankenstein agrees to its creation's argument, determining to make a female companion for the creature. However, he later reneges on the agreement fearing "..a race of devils would be propagated on this Earth..." Frankenstein's motives can be called into question. Having dabbled with the dark arts, he has toyed with the fabric of nature maybe in the same way that scientists skim the borderline through gene technology. Whilst his whiter than white background paints the image of a conscientious, noble individual, its up to the reader to decide just what the repercussions should be for an excursion into the seemingly taboo world of what amounts to cloning. One of the sadder aspects of the story is the awe in which the creature holds its master. Despite the cruel rejection and revulsion of its creator, Shelley manages to get across a paedic bond that seemingly is only felt by one of the parties. This feeling of denial by its father leaves the reader ponderous towards the way the creature is treated although it's difficult to justify the murderous outpourings that result from its paternal contact. Frankenstein is a classic, timeless tale that works. Today's reader may find the language a little formal but, of course, this story is nearly 200 years old. For me, I found the description of the surrounding countryside the most
alluring aspect of the book. A typical passage would be "....It was nearly noon when I arrived at the top of the ascent. For some time I sat upon the rock that overlooks the sea of ice. A mist covered both that and the surrounding mountains. Presently a breeze dissipated the cloud, and I descended upon the glacier..." This is an example of the imagery used by the author almost certainly inspired by her own first hand view of the beauty of Europe in the 19th Century. Ample opportunity is given for such description as the story sweeps across Europe taking in countries from England to Turkey to the further most reaches north of Archangel. Frankenstein is a tragic tale so be prepared for a litany of agony and despair as the story lurches from one disaster to another. The reader can't help thinking that the antagonists are joined by fate determining their individual destinies at some future point. Surely, books like Dracula and Frankenstein are essential reading in most people's wish list? You cannot fail to be moved by the passion and guile that these stories represent. Free from the artistic license reigned in their direction over the years, the end result is something groundbreaking in its time but written with a formidable penchant for drama that belongs with the most dramatic of opera. Would I recommend it? To be honest, I can't believe it's taken all this time for me to get around to reading Frankenstein. Thanks for reading. Marandina Note: The version I read was from the Penguin Classics collection and contains: An introduction from Maurice Hindle, notes on the text, suggested further reading and a chronology of Mary Shelley. Also included is the author's introduction to the standard novels edition (1831), a preface by P.B. Shelley and appendices A - Select collation of the texts of 1831 & 1818), B -"A Fragment" by Lord Byron and C - "The Vampyre: A tale" by Dr John
William Polidori. The actual story is only 202 pages. ISBN is 0-14-043362-7 and cost £2.99 from WH Smith. You can read the text online for free at http://www.literature.org/authors/shelley-mary/frankenstein/ *In Greek mythology, Prometheus was the Titan who gave fire to man. Prometheus was the wisest of the Titans. His name means 'forethought' and he could predict the future.
Gothic horror has always been my favourite genre of novels and over my time I have read many fabulous examples. However Frankenstein is in a class that nothing can match.. The story is full of drama and excitement and a great pleasure to read. Many of you will have seen a version of the story, probably in film, but for those who haven?t, here is a summary of the story. The novel tells the tale of Robert Walton, who takes a journey to the North Pole to discover new things. This has always been his life-long ambition and during his expedition he keeps in touch with his sister by letter. During his travels he meets a strange looking man travelling by dogsled and close to death. Kindly, Walton takes him on board and looks after him until he has somewhat recovered. The man is known as Victor Frankenstein and relates his tale to Walton. Frankenstein had been in a similar position to Walton, extremely keen to discover new things. Frankenstein went beyond the bonds of medicine and created new life form. Unfortunately the creation went wrong and wrecked havoc, killing the whole of Frankenstein?s family in the process. I won?t tell you too much about the story as that will simply ruin it. I want you to read it for yourself and discover what a fantastic novel it is. It is one of my all-time favourite novels and I strongly recommend it to those who have not yet read it. You will love it!
Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with the secret of resurrecting the dead. But when he makes a new 'man' out of plundered corpses, his hideous creation fills him disgust. Rejected by all humanity, the creature sets out to destroy Frankenstein and everyone he loves. And as the monster gets ever closer to his maker, hunter becomes prey in a lethal chase that carries them to the very end of the earth.