Overview from www.bn.com: Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, generally known as Frankenstein, is a novel written by the British author Mary Shelley. The title of the novel refers to a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who learns how to create life and creates a being in the likeness of man, but larger than average and more powerful. In popular culture, people have tended to refer to the Creature as “Frankenstein”, despite this being the name of the scientist. Frankenstein is a novel infused with some elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement. It was also a warning against the “over-reaching” of modern man and the Industrial Revolution, alluded to in the novel’s subtitle, The Modern Prometheus. The story has had an influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films. It is arguably considered the first fully realized science fiction novel.
I am not a real lover of the genres of horror or science fiction. Horror in particular is something I abhor because I think there are enough things out there in real life to scare a person without inventing them or reading those that others have invented and written down. Thus I picked up Mary Shelley’s classic Frankenstein with some trepidation.
What brought me to read it in the first place? My father had actually recommended it to me and I wasn’t too surprised by this since I know he is a huge sci-fi fan. However, he surprised me when he told me that the reason he recommended it so highly was because he thought it was one of the most well-written books he had ever read. This piqued my curiosity and I knew then that one day I would have to read to see if I agreed or not. Then when I heard the story about how Shelley came up with this story, I was intrigued even further. (If you are curious about this, I have a short You Tube video here at the end that will illuminate the details for you.)
Well, after reading it, my verdict is that for the most part, my father was right. Shelley’s Frankenstein (by the way Frankenstein is the doctor, not the monster—the monster has no name) is a captivating tale and not as scary as I feared. Frankenstein himself was a compelling character in his own right which is important since he is our narrator.
What surprised me the most however is that the plot revolves not so much around the horror of the monster’s appearance and actions but also around the question of whether or not it is ethical for a mere human being to tamper with life. This, I believe, is what will keep the modern reader of this novel in Shelley’s clutches.
As for me personally, I appreciate the way the characters are drawn and the way the author almost has me actually feeling sorry for the monster. After all, he did not ask the title character to create him.
The negatives were few but the biggest problem for me was the story within the story within the story that had me confused at one point. Our story begins with a letter that a man is writing to his sister about his voyage north to explore. Then the man picks up a guy out in the ocean who is barely surviving on this chunk of ice. This guy turns out to be Frankenstein himself who then proceeds to tell his story to the first guy in hopes that he might learn something from it. Then, while Frankenstein is telling his story, at one point, Frankenstein is narrating the story that the monster tells to him. This is where I got lost because at one point during the monster’s story I had to go to sleep and when I next had a chance to pick up where I left off, I got a little confused as to exactly who’s story I was reading.
When I finally figured out which character was telling his story, I was okay. This was when I began to feel sorry for the monster. That is, until he narrated his encounter with Frankenstein’s younger brother who he promptly murder for no good reason. Yes the kid seemed like kind of a brat but so what? That doesn’t excuse murder.
So, if you can stomach some gruesome violence, this is a book that I would definitely recommend. It is not a fluff piece but one that will get you thinking if you approach it with the right attitude. I am glad I gave it a chance and I do agree that for the most part it was a well-written novel.
Contains: some violence
The following is a video on the background of the novel.