“You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise in which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.” (Frankenstein, Page 1, Sentence 1)
“At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein” (Goodreads synopsis).
To the modern ear, Mary Shelley’s writing can seem old-fashioned, but the compelling story line makes it a worthwhile read. I read this book in college, and all I remember from it was three things: that I sided with the monster, that it was written during a writing contest between Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron, and that Lake Geneva in Switzerland was on my bucket list of places to visit. Rereading it, I found there are so many different subjects to discuss: nature vs. nurture, transcendentalism, and the ethical problems of scientific advancement.
Victor Frankenstein is the actual WORST. I still side with the monster: evil isn’t made, it’s created. At the end of his tale, Victor says: “During these last days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blameable” (268). Ummm…what? Excuse me while I go nominate you for worst father figure of the year. The monster entreats Frankenstein to create him a companion (which is incidentally what our captivated captain is also seeking), and says: “I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? (114) Okay, Frankenstein, I get your moral dilemma of not wanting to risk creating another creature…I really do, but there was a third option–you be the monster’s companion! I realize the monster wanted a different type of love, but I’m pretty sure he would’ve accepted this substitute; any love or kindness would have been enough.
Both Frankenstein and the monster seek out nature to sooth their souls. The monster says, “My spirits were elevated by the enchanting appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope, and anticipations of joy” (134). The importance of relationships to the psyche is stressed in this novel, but so too is the need for self-reflection and the need to get away from other people and just be; Frankenstein constantly throws off his companions to go find peace of mind in the wild.
We really hope that everybody reads this book and joins us during the month of October for our Frankenstein-themed events for adults.
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