You’ve probably heard of Frankenstein’s monster; the infamously large, green and grotesque creature that is typically presented by the media. You might’ve even watched some of the movies that feature it, or may have been forced to read the book as part of your English class reading. Regardless, I’m pretty sure you know who Frankenstein’s monster is.
After hearing on multiple occasions that Frankenstein was one of the best Gothic and Science fiction novels, I made sure to quickly jot it down on the list of books that I wanted to read, and a few months ago, I finally managed to get the chance to do so.
The novel, also known as The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, whose unorthodox scientific expeditions lead him to create a wretched creature, whom he ends up fearing and later abandoning. The book itself was actually anonymously published when Shelley was 21, making me feel like I need to get my priorities straightened out, but that’s beside the point.
Frankenstein is written in the form of epistolary, a series of letters written by one or more characters to tell the story. This is then followed by a narration of the main character. The form and manner the book was written in was one of the first things that intrigued me about the book as it made Shelley’s writing stand out, as well as made her story-telling process more interesting.
Although compelling, the letters that Shelley wrote in the beginning of the novel were too long and included a lot of filler information. Because of that, it took quite a while for the book to reach the main story. I was incredibly tempted to read something else at many times, but continued to push myself to read on.
My favourite thing about the novel is the writing. Shelley wrote the novel at 18, which is impressive in itself. The fact that her story is beautifully written while tackling many complex ideas is what makes it so much more important.
The only feature of her writing that put me off slightly is its slow build. The events of the tale build up in terms of intensity consistently, but because of its slow pace, the effectiveness of this is list over time. I’ve had to put the book down many times in one sitting because how tedious reading the story became.
Another aspect of the book that deeply entranced me were the themes of society, family and isolation that were discussed almost seamlessly. Family seems like a strange theme to associate with a novel full of murder and tragedy, but once carefully considered, the reader realizes it was when Victor becomes so engrossed with his scientific endeavours, to the point that he shuts his family out, does his downfall truly begin.
Frankenstein’s monster’s family would be Frankenstein himself, but he was abandoned by him out of utter disgust and fear.
The theme of society comes in when we consider Frankenstein’s monster’s ostracism by his family and community. The creature was created due to Frankenstein’s deep obsession with mortality. It was never meant to be monster. It was labelled a monster by humanity, who mistreated and excluded him due to his grotesque countenance and exterior. Although born with pure intentions, his isolation is what pushes Frankenstein’s monster into committing horrible acts out of anger.
This notion of isolation and ostracism can be applied to the human race and our own mistreatment of others. For as long as could be dated, some parties have shut out those whose races, identities or faiths they do not understand. They act with fear instead of love and curiosity. The idea Shelley discusses remains relevant to this day, which makes reading Frankenstein worth the hassle.
Photo via user @maraisea via Pixabay