Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I think this is the first time I’ve actually sat down and read Frankenstein, but I had the story all mixed up in my mind with the various movie interpretations I’ve seen, either whole or in part. I didn’t even know that it was a story being told by Frankenstein to a ship captain, and that part of that story had been told to Frankenstein by the monster himself.
Captain Robert Walton, who is on a voyage of discovery in the North Polar Seas, takes on board his ship a man who is on the verge of death. This man is Victor Frankenstein and before his death he tells Walton his whole, unbelievable story.
Frankenstein relates to Walton that, as a student, he became passionate about the natural sciences.
So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein,—more, far more, will I achieve: treading in the steps already marked, I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation.
He succeeded in discovering the secret of generating life from lifeless matter, although he never shares that secret, so don’t expect any lightning scenes. However, his creature was so hideous, an abomination, that he abandoned it.
Alas! I had turned loose into the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage and misery; had he not murdered my brother?
The creation is not the monster the movies depict, though. I was surprised by how much sympathy I had for the creature, who was very eloquent and, at least in the beginning of his existence, appreciated beauty and kindness. He was more like a child, learning what he could, doing what he wanted, good or bad. He longed for companionship, but even his maker was horrified by him. He became a monster as a result of how he was treated by humans.
Frankenstein never seems to realize, though, that he is responsible for what his creature became. Granted he gave it life and intelligence, but that intellect could have been molded, morals and ethics taught to him. Really, in abandoning his creation, Frankenstein began the cycle of vengeance that eventually lead to Frankenstein losing everyone he held dear and eventually his own life. The “monster” didn’t fair any better. He had his revenge on his maker, but he never had happiness and was determined to destroy himself in the end.
There are lessons to be learned here, aside from the futility of revenge. Technology can produce amazing things, but can also lead to terrifying consequences. We need to be responsible in our actions and how they will affect others. There is an inherent danger in creating life, not that humans would ever attempt that.
It actually took me a while to become engrossed in the story, to get used to the writing style. It was originally published in 1818, but the vivid imagery and the universal themes still hold up. It won’t keep you awake at night, but it may make you think. I didn’t find it an easy read, but was definitely worth the time and effort.
My copy was borrowed from the library and the above is my honest opinion. I am an Amazon Associate.