It’s Halloweenmonth, so I will look at a classic Horrortale! Frankenstein is one of the most popular movie monsters of all time.
And I am aware of the fact that Frankenstein was actually the creator of the monster, not the monster itself. Or is he?! It was not until “Abbott and Costello meet Frankenstein” that the monster was officially given the name of its creator (well before that, many people mistook the name as the monster already). Thanks to James Rolfe for pointing that out.
But I’m not here to talk about the movie(s), but the book the charcters origined from. The plot is summarised pretty easily: Victor Frankenstein is obsessed with the creation of life and, because of his studies, manages to create an artificial lifeform, the Creature. But he is terrified by his own creation, and abandons it. The Creature, unable to find love an peace, seeks vengeance on its creator. And so the chain of death and suffering begins.
About the book
“Frankenstein or: The Modern Prometheus” was written and published in 1818 by the then 20-year-old Mary Shelley after travelling through Europe, in which she encountered many stories about insane alchemists, who made gruesome experiments with corpses. The book has three volumes, and its protagonist Victor Frankenstein is probably based on two historic persons, Luigi Galvani and Alessandro Volta, who all experimented with muscles stimulated by electricity.
The book begins and ends in the Arctic with the journal by Captain Richard Walton, who encounters Victor Frankenstein, who in return tells is newfound friend his tragic tale. So there’s a story in a story, which gets even more confuse when the second narrator Frankenstein reads a letter by his cousin Elisabeth, who tells him about their childhood friend Justine (which he should already know, btw), and later the Creature gets to tell his tale within the other tale, it’s kinda confusing.
“Frankenstein” is about a man who cannot cease doing what he’s doing, who is obsessed. The protagonist is obsessed with the creation of artificial life, his creation is obsessed with finding love and peace, and when it gets neglected, is obsessed with destructing its creator. And Frankenstein in turn is then obsessed with avenging his loved ones. It’s a circle of death, tragedy and revenge, which can only end with death.
It’s a very dark tale: A child gets neglected by his father, and, because it does not receive love and kindness in his life, sets out to kill his father. It’s the story of God creating man (hence the name “The modern Prometheus“), but God turns out to be just as imperfect and flawed as its own creation is.
The act of creating is not the important part, it is told in one, two sentences, but it never goes into detail. So if you expect the most popular scene of the 1931 Frankenstein movie to take place, you will be disappointed.
The first volume is quite boresome, but after it the storytelling speeds up and you get excited. “Frankenstein” is a classic gothic horror story, that can relate to any time period possible. A mirror of mankind’s own dark desires to become like God.