Ever since I was kid, I have always been curious about The Frankenstein's monster and its story by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
This character, together with Dracula and The Wolf-man and some other characters, is very popular especially during Halloween, in which we see pictures, posters and life size models displayed all over town.
Now, All Hallow's Eve is almost here again, and my curiosity for The Frankenstein's monster and the story behind it, never altered. Let's have a closer look at the story. You might ask, Who is Frankenstein and why did he make this monster? Who is this creature and why did he become bad?
and also Why is the novel considered gothic?
and lastly Who is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley?
First, there was a doctor named Victor Frankenstein. Young and thirsty for knowledge. He studies the forbidden sciences, questions the principle of life and gives birth to an "inhuman" creature. In this venture, he overreaches himself. He gathers tremendous knowledge, defies his parents and dabbles in the supernatural. He shows a natural human tendency to pursue the forbidden. But his knowledge leaves him ignorant of the consequences of his act. His ambition influences him in such a way that he is no more an ordinary mortal but can be compared to Dr. Faustus. (Faustus, or Faust, is a character from literature and legend who enters into a pact with the devil in exchange for knowledge and power.) Also the author, Shelley, shows Frankenstein, questioning the principle of life: "Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed?"
Frankenstein is an idealist who believes in his goals and will go to any lengths to achieve them. His intention is to rid the world of death
, to "renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption." The Monster
is the product of the young doctor's ambition. The monster is a nameless creature. It is ironic that one has to refer to him as a "monster" or a "demon" when he starts out as more humane than many of the other characters. He is the true outcast of society, and though he has the intelligence of man, he isn’t allowed into society. After many attempts to gain the favour of humans, the monster finally resolves to take out his anger and misery on mankind, particularly his creator, Victor. It is also ironic that he, too, possesses the thirst for knowledge, quite like his master.
The author treats the theme of love, but in this novel it is the absence of love
that is most striking. The lack of love between the creator (Victor) and his creation (the monster) can lead only to misery and destruction.
Another theme in the novel that concerns the creature is the human tendency to judge a person based on his/her appearance.
Yes, it is true the monster is horrifying (check the picture) though he appears to be more "humane" than others and he is at first more sensitive and tolerant. Unfortunately, no one tries to understand him or to accept him the way he is. Frankenstein as a gothic novel.
The gothic tradition highlights the grotesque, relies on mysterious and remote settings, and is intended to evoke fear.
All of these qualities are evident in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.
The "monster" around whom the novel revolves is itself a product of Victor Frankenstein's attraction to the grotesque
, which results in deformity and deviation. While he has a good soul, he strikes fear in all who lay eyes on him. The fine settings within the novel are striking and distinctively gothic. Appropriately, the creature first breathes on a "dreary night of November."
The eerie atmosphere of the novel is typical of the gothic tradition. Victor, unafraid of the dark, spends his time in "vaults and charnel-houses."
He boldly visits the cemetery at night and vows to avenge the murders of his family members.
In the gothic there is a strong reliance on the fantastic and the supernatural
, which often overrides inconsistencies within the details of the plot. The fact that the monster unfailingly follows Victor everywhere he goes is rather questionable. Almost no mention is made of the obstacles he could have faced along the way. It is equally striking that the murders committed by the "monster" have all gone un-witnessed.
Finally, the gothic takes the theme of death in an interesting direction: overcoming the limits of mortality is a major concern.
On a certain level, Victor's interest in creating life is an extension of this desire to escape death. By assembling the body parts of the dead, Victor makes a "monster" who is part human and part ghost. Like a tormented spirit, his creation haunts the living.
Lastly, Who is Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley?
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is the wife of the poet, Percy Shelley. The novel Frankenstein
has been said to be a product of the horror she felt in losing her children. The trauma, hopes and fears of reanimating a corpse are transferred to the character of Victor, through whom the author re-lives the experience, and in a way, purges herself of it.
The idea for Frankenstein
developed when Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary and Polidori came together in the summer of 1816 in Switzerland. On a fateful day, they were confined indoors due to rain. Byron came up with the idea that each of them should write a ghost story to pass the time. Mary Shelley alone succeeded in creating a story that could "awaken thrilling horror." Galvanism (the re-animating of a corpse) was a popular topic of discussion at that time.
In the preface to Frankenstein
, Mary Shelley states that the book was conceived in a dream in which she saw a "pale student of unhallowed arts putting together the hideous phantasm of a man. She realized that what terrified her would also terrify others, and so she formulated her story.
This story has been famous for years and it has been revised, reviewed and put into film countless of times. Frankenstein
succeeds as an undying gothic horror and as a "ghost story."
Such an interesting and way in finding a “cure” to rid the world of death that ended in grief, regret, and gruesome death.
Have you, out of your insatiable knowledge, created your own monster
? "Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why... did I not extinguish which you had so want only bestowed? ”
- The Monster.