Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Standalone Book - No Series

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is the world’s most famous Gothic novel about eccentric scientist Victor Frankenstein, who creates a grotesque creature in an unorthodox scientific experiment. Shelley's work is considered to be the world's first science fiction, with Frankenstein’s monster being a symbol of science gone awry. Shelley’s masterpiece has inspired numerous films, plays and other books. This, the 1831 edition, contains the author’s final revisions.

"I have to confess that I put off reading this book for years because I figured it would be more of a chore than a treat. Victorian writing in some classics hasn't had mercy on me in the some of my past reads; Dracula was excellent in its first quarter (with seriously creepy vibes going down) but started lagging itself out with a bloated middle saturated with melodramatic dialogue, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a clever concept somewhat tainted by its Victorian prose. To my surprise, Frankenstein's shining triumph ended up being its colorful, beautiful writing that suited its time period with flourish. Yes, it's wordy. Yes, it's flowery. Is it also impressive and moving? Absolutely.

“The whole series of my life appeared to me as a dream; I sometimes doubted if indeed it were all true, for it never presented itself to my mind with the force of reality.”

Everyone knows the story of Frankenstein and his monster, but the movies have taken liberties on the plot focus and progression. The written version doesn't share all the scenes that graced the screens when Universal sought to bring the story to celluloid reality, but its focus seems to rely more on the irony of the situation as much as it does the tragedy. The book is told through the point of view of another character who has set sail on a boat and writes letters home to account the bizarre story the scientist told him on his personal, final voyage. Letter writing seemed to be a common way to tell these types of stories, as seen with much of Dracula and the third person viewpoint of the friend for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

“I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel...”

Irony comes across clearly for Frankenstein. A man abandons all who love him, his family and friends who believe in him and want him by their sides, to seek out isolation instead so that he can make a creature that he then abandons. The creator plays God only to then view his creature as a demon. The creation bemoans his existence but begs the creator to make another like him to ease his loneliness. A man abandons his creation because he sees it as wrong and evil, but the creation only turns out that way because he is first abandoned. Since the creator will not allow the creature to love others (by making another), the creature sets out to destroy all else the creator loves, only to regret and love his maker in the end.

Character-wise, Dr. Frankenstein kind of just sucks. He remains self-pitying throughout and never acknowledges growth and acceptance. If he had only opened his eyes to some of the basic truths after the monster was created and nurtured it instead, he would have grown along with his creation. Ironically the creature is the only one with a sense of true remorse at the end of the story, since he seems to realize more and is willing to admit out loud he could have erred with his revenge and his focus. He has a valid reason for anxiety and anger but allows regret to be felt, while Frankenstein never seemed to accept anything other than a poor-me mentality. He saw a mistake he made that he refused to fix other than just running away from it. 

'Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred."

Stories that show how dangerous it is for man to play God are plentiful, but not many highlight the theme as strong as Frankenstein does. I see the main theme and focus instead being on the tragedy of the doctor regretting his creation and the dangers which arise from abandonment. And we all already know society has pretty much sucked in history for not accepting people who are different.

Being a big Universal monster movie fan, I did miss the magic of the laboratory and the strikes of lightning while he gleefully yells that his creation is alive, plus of course castles, and you won't get to see other familiar celluloid scenes like a tormenting Igor, but still the story rocks from its theme and excels in its writing style. Beautiful and moving, the story will probably remain immortal, and it should. 

" Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful."

Instagram Photo

Cover Gallery

Classic Movie Trailer