Today I’m going to uncharacteristically skip the long intro for this post and get straight to the point: I love Frankenstein. Last year, I read Frankenstein by Mary Shelley for my literature class. Everyone seems to have turned it into some kind of horror story. Naturally, this is what I had in mind when I picked up the book. But what I read far exceeded my anticipations and gave me a completely different way to think about this story.
So, to set the record straight, I’m here to talk about what I saw in Frankenstein.
Obsessed with the secret of creation, Swiss scientist Dr. Victor Frankenstein cobbles together a body he’s determined to bring to life. And one fateful night, he does. When the creature opens his eyes, the doctor is repulsed: his vision of perfection is, in fact, a hideous monster. Dr. Frankenstein abandons his creation, but the monster won’t be ignored, setting in motion a chain of violence and terror that shadows Victor to his death.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a gripping story about the ethics of creation and the consequences of trauma, is one of the most influential Gothic novels in British literature. It is as relevant today as it is haunting.
After reading that review, you would expect it to be a horror story about this evil monster, right? Well . . . think again.
Common Confusions On Frankenstein
- FRANKENSTEIN IS NOT A HORROR STORY.
So . . . I’ve already said this multiple times, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. There wasn’t anything about the book that I would even call creepy. There were quite a few murders throughout the book, but they were very non graphic and weren’t the main portion of the plot.
- “Frankenstein” is not the name of the creation.
I think most people assume that Frankenstein is the name of the monster that was created. The name actually belongs to Victor Frankenstein, the young scientist. Meanwhile, the creation was simply called “The Monster” or “The Creation” and was never given an official name.
- Victor’s creation was not stupid.
While I haven’t watched any modern day horror movies based on Frankenstein, I can envision the creation being portrayed as a raging, idiotic, unfeeling monster. *seethes in fury* Oh-h-h dear. Before I get carried away, I’ll just state that that is SO not the case.
Mary Shelley does an amazing job of showing both Victor Frankenstein’s and the creature’s sides of the story. While Victor is telling his story to Robert Walton–a like minded scientist–he also relates to him the times he’s come into contact with his creation and what the monster told him.
We learn how the creation felt upon waking up and discovering that he was all alone without any knowledge of anything. He takes some papers from Victor’s office without realizing their importance and leaves the laboratory. He later learns how he came to be in existence by reading Victor’s painfully detailed recordings. He discovers that, because of his outward appearance, he’s doomed to live a life of solitude and misery. He resolves to find Victor and persuade him to create another creature like himself. When Victor destroys the second creation, the monster is enraged and heartbroken. This then results in the murder of Victor’s good friend, Henry Clerval, and afterwards, his bride, Elizabeth.
What I Took Away From Frankenstein
First of all, there’s the obvious point that I think Mary Shelley was trying to make when she wrote Frankenstein. Victor Frankenstein was obsessed with creating human life and in the process, he went too far. While I personally don’t believe that humans will ever discover the “secret of life”, we can get carried away in the pursuit of science and other things. God has set boundaries for a reason and when we cross over those boundaries, nothing can follow but a life of misery and despair unless we repent.
Secondly, I bought this book in a collection that included The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Frankenstein. (You can find it here on Amazon) Both books had a powerful theme and connection that I hadn’t expected to find.
In The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Quasimodo is a deaf, half blind hunchback. From the time when he was a young boy to his mid twenties, he had been despised and told that he didn’t deserve to live. Meanwhile, Frankenstein’s creature was also despised because of his appearance. In reality, both of these “monsters” could have been compassionate, humane creatures, had they been given the right kind of attention and care.
Sure, we rarely see people like Quasimodo or Frankenstein’s creature in our daily lives, but what do we do when we’re tempted to judge others because of outward appearance? I know this is something that I struggle with every day. It’s important to stop and ask ourselves, are we seeing this person through God’s eyes?
I hope that you all enjoyed hearing my thoughts on Frankenstein and maybe you’ll go read it for yourself! Have a good evening!
Have you ever read Frankenstein? If so, what did you think about it? What themes did you see portrayed in the story?