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Posted November 5, 2012
In 1831, teenager Mary Shelly put together a novel that would echo down the centuries as one of the most horrific and complex novels to come down the line in some time. When I first read this book I thought I would see some resemblance to the 1931 Karloff film, but I could not be more wrong. The novel is as complex in its vocabulary, its ability to elicit emotion from the reader and its horror. The book starts out on a ship that is exploring the extreme north, where ice floes and freezing temperatures are the norm. The captain sees a figure on a dogsled going across the landscape. He thinks this is weird. Then he later finds a man on an ice sheet near death. The captain, Robert Walton, pulls him aboard and is amazed at his articulate manner (I guess hanging out with sailors all day for weeks does that to you). His name is Henry Frankenstein. Henry finds that Robert has some interest in bringing things to life, etc., and experimentations of that nature. Henry freaks out and says no, let me tell you my story. And so it goes. Though Shelly's language is at times a bit of a chore to get through, I was impressed with the flow and style of the story, her commentaries on family, Nature, the poor, and Man daring to act the role of Creator. The details of Victor creating the creature are a bit weak, but understandable. After all I'm sure Henry did not want to give all the details otherwise we'd be setting up shop and doing it ourselves! There are not secret labs, no big electric machines and no maniacal servants or criminal brains. There is plenty of secret work, as Victor, through use of chemistry and alchemy texts, creates the "spark of life." But, he is so horrified at what he has done, that he suffers a nervous breakdown and takes months to convalesce. The creature, with no guidance and his master abandoning him, wanders the countryside as he learns to survive. He starts out noble and appreciative of nature, but also finds that Man rejects him utterly. Unlike God's creation of Adam, and Genesis' exclamation that His creation was "good", Victor's creation is found to be evil. The creature holes up in a cottage where he can spy on the people therein. There, he learns the language and the behaviors of the three people within. Here Shelly makes much about the unfairness of prison justice and the squalor being experienced by the common folk of the time. Living during the time of the Industrial Revolution, it is understandable she would make comments along the lines of destitution and that machines alone can degrade Man. Quite interesting. As the story progresses, the creature decides that he will avenge himself against Man and against his creator for making him ugly and wretched. And so the horror begins. Victor tries to make a life for himselfWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.