Review of Frankenstein

FrankensteinFrankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had never read this classic before. Of course, I’ve seen adaptations of it on film and in general lore. Those accounts give far more interest to the “science” of it (which Shelley completely glosses over). Frequently pointed to as a treatise against “playing God”, I’m not sure I wholly agree with that take on it. So I won’t talk on that matter, my review focuses more on the characters themselves.

Shelley’s Dr. Frankenstein is far from indifferent, quite the opposite in fact. He seems subject to great drama at the smallest of things. I have to admit that his “excess of sentiment” grew tedious at times. Especially since, if he’d had any forethought at all, none of this would have happened to him. How many days passed between him creating this “creature” and him discovering what had become of it? I suppose this is the beginning of the classic horror story cliche of a naive protagonist releasing something alien into the everyday world – much like Dustin and Dart in Stranger Things. Dustin was also eager to distinguish himself with his discovery, naively believing Dart was harmless, just like Frankenstein. However when he discovered the opposite, Dustin set out to right his error. Frankenstein shirked such duty in a frenzy of what can only be called cowardice as viewed from this age of totally bad-ass protagonists.

Frankenstein instead is instantly horrified by his creation (based solely upon its appearance, mind you) and, even while supposing it to be malign in nature, he quits the scene and leaves it to its own devices! For days! If he really thought this creature was a demon from the start, why did he not try to stop it right then and there?

I’m not sure what Shelley intended to stir in the reader with this story but I felt less horror at this monster than I did at the worst of the GOT villains. Really, the creature was a threat only to Frankenstein with whom it had a (I think legitimate) grudge and Frankenstein’s family. Worse, I feel not one iota of compassion for the poor downtrodden Victor whose fits of hysteria frequently incapacitated him. The monster, however, is a very sympathetic being, one whose anger and rage and misdeeds are completely understandable even by today’s standards.

On the whole, I did enjoy it. Her language is so reminiscent of Jane Austin’s that it felt very period to me. It was well thought out and interesting. I do recommend it.

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