Growing up many of us must have read, or heard a refined/improvised tale of Frankenstein: how a mad scientist’s goal of “creating life” turned into a monster. The monster even appears in Hotel Translyvania where he actually is portrayed as a sweet, calm guy – unless he is annoyed.
However, I picked up Frankenstein by Mary Shelly to know what the actual story is!
Is the monster really an experiment gone wildly bad? Does he have no redeemable qualities? Was he made by an evil scientist to carry out his anarchist plans? And so forth. What I didn’t realize as a child being fictionally scared by Frankenstein in cartoons was that the novel was written by a woman.
“Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.”
Mary Shelly was only 18 when she wrote this story and it was because of a writing challenge to write the best horror story by a poet: Lord Byron. Mind blowing! Just imagine for a second.
The monster that everyone calls Frankenstein (actually isn’t his name, he is referred as monster) that inspired may horror films and villains that have become icons in pop culture, were because of a woman who published her story anonymously.
“The fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am alone.”
Although Frankenstein isn’t a long novel, only a 200 something pages, the story is vividly written with an ambient environment, and beautiful descriptions of the Swiss Alps. The story was the first Science Fiction novel written and if weren’t for Mary Shelly the genre would’ve taken a few more years or decades to start.
“It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn;
I read the novel to appease my curiosity of knowing the actual story, then for leisure. Everyone by now, knows that a mad, evil scientist: Victor Frankenstein wants to create life, and ends up with a monster that eventually sets out to kill it’s traitor. Sounds oddly AI/futuristic if you ask me but the mad scientist did collect and join odd limbs to create life in this mish mash of flesh and bones.
“I could not understand why men who knew all about good and evil could hate and kill each other.”
However, when I actually read Frankenstein I found that the mad scientist: Victor Frankenstein wasn’t as evil as pop culture made him seem. Victor was studious and passionate about sciences, and in his pursuit to create life, became so was plagued by what he had done, ended up resolving to kill it. Similarly, the monster, wasn’t a monster from the start.
“My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading.”
The monster was just like a child in the beginning, didn’t know how to speak or what he thought, but when Victor found him alive, he thought it was an abomination and wanted to kill it. Soon enough, the monster flees and find refuge in a home, where he starts to learn the language from the people of the place he is hiding.
“Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man!”
You get glimpses into how the creation never set out to be evil, that he had feelings – maybe not a moral compass yet – but he wanted to be loved and cared for. Just like humans who want to be appreciated and loved by those they hold dear. Eventually, after being rejected and exiled and hunted by many villages and towns, for being a monster, he goes back to Victor to demand a partner with whom he can live and be happy in exile.
“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 resemlance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and abhorred.’ – Frankenstein”
After being rejected and seeing his partner destroyed, the monsters sets out for vengeance to kill everyone Victor loves dearly, and begins a game of cat and mouse, where both are chasing each other. Throughout the story of Frankenstein, you’re taken on a journey to Swiss alps, met with characters that are noble and kind but eventually meet death, and it definitely keeps you engaged.
“The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature.”
The novel is also written in the form of letters, and starts with Victor meeting Captain Walton, who narrates the entire story to his sister in London, and gives Frankenstein a folklore feeling to it. Nonetheless, if you like Sci-Fi or horror stories then this will keep you hooked right from the beginning.
I liked it, but wasn’t wowed by it. But I will still keep it with me, as I’m sure the story will keep on going for decades to come.
Onto the basics:
- Rating: 3.5/5.0
- Favourite Quote: “The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own.”
- Reader level: Hard. Not easy.
- Should you read it: If you like Spooky stuff or Sci-Fi, then yes absolutely!!
- Would I read it again: Oh I will! Some books need to be re-read.
Till next time,