“Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.”
— Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
I guess it was about time that I finally took a dive into the very original story of one of the most famous monsters out there. Seeing the big green creature left and right around Halloween in every form possible, whether its a show, a movie or in person, his background has always been summed up as the man brought back to life through an electrifying experiment. Now that I’ve read his story, I can definitely tell you that it wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. Oh, no, no, no. This is one classic filled with correspondences and flowery writing like none other. Although it did enlighten me on how Victor Frankenstein’s creation came to life, it definitely didn’t impress me with its writing style, characterization and its abundance of details. Its themes and the moral of the story does stir up some nice little discussions for those who wish it, but if you were looking for a story that would raise the hair on the back of your neck, make you sweat in fear or have you cowering for a week at the mere thought of this legendary creature, this is not where you’ll find it.
If you try to imagine the creation of Victor Frankenstein, you’ll probably have a pretty vivid picture of the giant green man with iron bolts on each side of his neck, a nice ragged three-piece suit (blazer, black shirt and black jeans of course) as well as an inability to talk fluently. Mary Shelley’s original concept of this so-called daemon is however far different than you’d ever imagine. This monster speaks more royally and effortlessly than anyone I ever knew in my life. He still however has the overall ugliness that is commonly associated with him, but he has supernatural speed and a better survivability (able to go on intense diets that any normal human being wouldn’t dare envision themselves doing). This was definitely surprising, but also made so much more sense to how this classic story was able to catch the attention of so many in the past two centuries. In fact, even if the story is told through the wimpy eyes of the mad scientist who wanted to do the impossible by bringing to life the dead, a part of the book is also focused around the monster’s journey as an escapee into the world of humans.
Now the real source of this storie’s fame lies in the lessons that the monster offers us. Being something that is not accepted and quickly judged by his appearance, his journey remains tumultuous and heavily isolated. With great stealth and a desire to do good, we are presented with instances where his desire to do good only turns against him because of his appearance. It’s after the third strike that he suddenly realizes how infuriating his very being is and how unacceptable it was of Victor Frankenstein of giving him a life cursed to be despised that a whirlwind of emotions throws the monsters on a path filled with revenge. Like the great Jean-Jacques Rousseau once said, Man is born good and it is society that corrupts him—my attempt to paraphrase, do not quote me. This classic story does raise some interesting debate upon this subject and offers us a monster that is born after a science experiment gone awry by a human being to make us ponder deeper questions. Personally, I vouch for men being born evil and learning through society to do good and promote positive behaviours in order to create a better society to live within. Mary Shelley’s investigation of human kindness—or simply human nature—gives us a creature for which we can only be saddened by his unfortunate state.
With guilt and fear driving most of Victor Frankenstein’s actions, the story told within Frankenstein remains fascinating in nature. I had a little too many issues with this story, and most of them came as a surprise, but it still remains that Mary Shelley’s oeuvre is the first piece of science fiction that has graced literature and earned its merits. While the exploits of Victor and his creation are iconic to us, their mere premise is something that will give birth to many more stories of the same origin. In fact, it wouldn’t be too far-fetched to see a little bit of resemblance between Victor and his projects with all those stories featuring mad scientists creating artificial intelligence? Besides the integrated letters within the narrative and the flowery writing that focuses on so much unnecessary details, I do have to mention my inability to distinguish characters by the manner they speak as they all talk the same. Maybe this is characteristic of the literature produced in those years (1818 has its perks), but it doesn’t help me understand how a monster has the same communication skills as his creator. Nevertheless, Frankenstein is one of those classics that are just nice to have read just to be able to say “been there, done that”, if anything else.
This classic novel was adapted into a movie directed by James Whale in 1931. If you ask me, it is the only true adaptation, yet it isn’t even adapting the book properly hahahah. I can’t imagine Hollywood ever making a successful reboot for this one anyways… Have you seen this movie? 🙂
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MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆/