After many bus rides to and back from work, I have finally managed to finish Frankenstein. Probably one of the first observations I made about it was how much it felt more-so science fiction than gothic/romantic (as it is usually referred as). I had some trouble staying tuned into the story at times (although bumpy bus rides probably didn’t help my focus…). Mary Shelley’s prose was first person, but often second or third hand (one person telling another person’s story who was then telling yet another story). Nevertheless, it did make for compelling reading at times. Secondarily, whilst the monster’s creation and subsequent actions have influenced the plot well, the story is focused on the life of Victor Frankenstein, the monster’s creator, and his family. I have yet to see a movie rendition that focuses on this, not to say there isn’t one out there, but if you mention the name “Frankenstein” it is more often than not referred to as the monster rather than the man who created him.
Probably one of the biggest problems I had was that I did not relate to any of the characters probably because none of them had any redeeming qualities. Victor Frankenstein came off as arrogant and thought he could play God by “creating” a creature from bits and pieces of the dead and revived via lightning. The way he removes himself from the people that care about him (Elizabeth for instance) and drowns in his frantic pursuit of knowledge is heartbreaking. The creature had every opportunity to learn right from wrong and appeared to have done so, but ultimately let revenge and self-pity rule over his decisions. The cumulative havoc the two cause to those around them is shocking and pretty inexcusable. Whilst the characters can be sometimes relatable, I feel like the strength of the book lies through its conveyance of themes, and as Mary Shelley seems to promote (subtle, we elaborated on this in the seminar…), I may have benefited from giving the book a second read.
Nonetheless, it was pretty enjoyable. It wasn’t the most thrilling piece of literature we have read in Arts One, but again I tend to enjoy philosophical texts a bit more….