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.
*Rating adjusted due to it being ~200 years old and Mary Shelley only being 19 when she wrote it. Otherwise the language/style would have earned it a lower score.
This book was not at all what I was expecting. I’ve never watched any of the Frankenstein movies, but I’ve heard enough about them and the book that I thought I knew the story. Turns out I really didn’t. I had no idea it would start off with an arctic expedition, I didn’t think the whole story would be Dr. Frankenstein telling his story to someone else, and I did not at all expect Frankenstein’s creature to be remotely intelligent. From the bits and pieces of the movies I’ve seen and the references I’ve heard, I thought all he could do was grunt.
My gosh, Dr. Frankenstein whines more than an emo teen. I would know, I was one. As were all of my friends. If I had known how much he whines before I started reading it, I would have kept count of how many times he called himself a “wretch” or “wretched.” I mean, I get it, he did something that goes very much against the laws of nature as we know it. He created life from death. That’s some freaky stuff. But he runs away from his creature as soon as it opens his eyes because it was ugly. That’s it. Then he left it well alone for years, without every trying to do anything about it, other than wallow in his own misery. I kind of wanted to slap his face and tell him to get over himself.
The creature, on the other hand, is a bit more accurate when he calls himself a wretch (but seriously, get a thesaurus Mary Shelley). His creator took one look at him and decided to have nothing further to do with him, and for some reason every other person who saw it thought it was a good idea to attack him (which seems a bit outlandish. I would never attack someone for looking different than me. Especially if that someone was like, twice my size). While I understand his desire to have someone to love him, I do think it was quite rash for him to make his first kill before ever talking to Frankenstein, and even then I can’t quite understand why he had to kill in the first place. Sure, he wanted to take away from Frankenstein what he himself couldn’t have. But when it didn’t work, maybe he should have just killed Frankenstein, rather than hurting all the innocent bystanders. Along that same thought, why didn’t Frankenstein try to fight back, even a little? He tells nobody about his creature (until very late into the book), and does nothing to try to find or fight him (until after the last murder). It’s like he wanted to keep getting hurt.
*Spoiler alert* The ending sucked. Frankenstein dies of grief (I guess?) so the creature decides to kill himself. Right. Based on the (very long) Introduction, I was expecting more of a fight to the death.
Have you read Frankenstein? What are your thoughts? What is your favorite and least favorite classic?