This is my second book from the Classics Club challenge, and this time it’s Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein! I decided to go for this one due to the spooky season vibes, and also because I haven’t been reading a lot of Gothic literature (luckily or unluckily…?); Frankenstein seemed like an obvious choice then. Besides, I’ve heard of Mary Shelley a lot and couldn’t wait to try out her most famous work. So… what did I think of Frankenstein?
How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery!Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
The book tells a story of Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who is fascinated by the idea of creating life. One night, after a lot of research and consideration, he fulfills his dream and brings a monster to life. He then must deal with the consequences of his action.
My first thought is, it was definitely different to what my idea of Frankenstein was. I had to confront my expectations of the story with what we’ve been often given by the culture, which is essentially a mad scientist shouting “It’s alive!” and a green, creepy monster rising from the dead. We’ve been bombarded so much with different adaptations of Frankenstein that the original story of Mary Shelley’s book kind of faded away among all those films and Halloween impersonations. I was definitely surprised to hear that the book is not only about some scientist’s experiment and there is much more to the story than just monster’s creation. And surprisingly, the name Frankenstein doesn’t refer to the monster itself, but to Victor, the scientist! (Also, please tell me that I’m not alone in finding out that Frankenstein is not about a big green monster – I feel a bit silly but at the same time I think I wasn’t the first person to feel that way!)
Frankenstein is also a very complex novel. It starts off in a form of letters from Robert Walton to his sister, then the narrative takes a different turning and it’s Victor Frankenstein’s telling his story; there is also the monster narrating from his point of view, and then the story goes back to Victor Frankenstein again, just to finish off with Robert Walton’s narration again. It all works perfectly together and we have a lot of insight into different points of view and a very detailed evaluation of characters’ thoughts and feelings. What is more, there is a lot of focus on the monster’s life and its struggles with gaining acceptance.
The themes of knowledge, alienation, identity and family are the most prevalent themes and it’s really fascinating how they are explored in the book. It’s also quite interesting to see how the books explores the theme of creation of life – Victor Frankenstein can be perceived as God (or Prometehus, according to the subtitle of the novel) who created life, but is horrified with the outcome of his creation.
Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
But unfortunately, Frankenstein was also a very tedious and monotonous novel. This is a very personal opinion, but it really did take me some time to finish it (I finished a couple of other books in-between Frankenstein, just to fill the void). I couldn’t help but thinking how long everything takes in the novel and how much unnecessary thoughts or information has been added there (as though just to purposefully make it longer). On one hand, we have descriptions of beautiful mountains and nature, and on the other, there is a deformed monster rummaging through the hills with the intention to kill Frankenstein’s family. The mood of the book is quite dark and depressing, so it just seemed to me a bit “too extra” to implement such things, which, unfortunately, sounded detached and not on point.
Also, isn’t it funny how intelligent the monster is? It’s interesting how people back in the day thought that a monster creation like Frankenstein’s monster would achieve full capability of a human brain in such a short time. The only advantage of multiple modern adapations of Frankenstein is the fact that they attempted to make it more realistic, I guess.
Frankenstein is considered to be a cult horror/science-fiction book and I definitely agree with it! Mary Shelley is definitely an interesting person (she wrote the novel when she was only 18 years old) and I can imagine how mind-blowing Frankenstein must have been back then. For me now, it was definitely an interesting read, with a couple of reservations in terms of Shelley’s writing style and the idea behind the monster’s development! 🙂