It’s a tale I thought I knew, and yet I didn’t know it at all. There’s no ‘It’s alive!’, the monster isn’t Frankenstein (just daemon, the ‘inventor’ is Frankenstein), there’s no lightning strike or metal rods in the head, no ‘mad scientist’ and the monster isn’t dumb and slow, quite the opposite, so in fact it’s not quite what I expected at all. And I was pleasantly surprised by what I found, because unlike some other classics I have read, it was an easy read. Now I’m not sure if there was just some choice editing in my edition to try to clear things up, or whether it was just the writing style, but I’m inclined to think the latter. Which is really great, and I definitely think that it makes Frankenstein reasonably accessible, especially if you get a copy with footnotes (that’s something I think is a must for reading a classic, as there’s often words/terms/references to things which make no sense anymore – though that does make it interesting to see how the meaning of words has changed over the years).
I found the structure quite odd, in a good way, since at one point there was a story (about the DeLacy family) within a story (the daemon’s to Frankenstein) within a story (Frankenstein to Robert) within a story (Robert relaying Frankenstein’s story and his own via letters to his sister) in THE story (the one we are reading). Yeah, that somewhat hurts my head, though reading it, it certainly doesn’t hurt. So, I liked it, the varying narrative styles was engaging, and the different stories were all interesting. The initial segments in letter format was surprising, but it does suit it.
I have to say that I didn’t find this story scary or horrifying at all. In one of the extra parts, the authors introduction perhaps, it says Mary wanted to write a story which terrified her readers, just as the dream the story was inspired by, did to her. Well, she failed on that front with me. Perhaps audiences in the 1800’s found it horrific, I didn’t. Nevertheless, I found it fascinating. I finally know the real story of Frankenstein, after knowing the book since I could remember. It, like Dracula (which I am planning to read at some point, but what point it turns out to be, we shall see) is one of those iconic, pervasively known stories, but more often than not people don’t know THE actual story.
It’s a wonderful story about the dangers of human curiosity and scientific advancement. I don’t think Shelley was trying to be that critical of science, but the story does send a warning message that our creations may be more than we can handle. Perhaps she was envisioning something akin to the technological singularity of Terminator? Obviously the story didn’t halt scientific progression. Of course there is towards the end the idea that humans have a choice (certainly a trope), and that maybe humans aren’t evil after a long passage of the monster ironically being the most humane of them all, but then being turned by the ‘evil’ humans. Before coming to terms (too late) and realising that he was now a monster.
I find it odd that in this book, and Pride and Prejudice the authors purposely obscure the date and location, so they’ll say it was 17–, or it was at Fort —, I don’t really get why that is. And I’m having difficulty trying to research that, so if you have an idea let me know. I mean, I get why she left out the method for creating the monster, to stop people trying to follow it, and because it would be hard to make it believable. But the date, does that really matter, or does it add to the mystery, by trying to say it was a real event, but to protect the identity of people they’ve changed the date? I’m not sure.
My experience with Frankenstein was a good one, and I thoroughly recommend giving it a go. A book worthy of the title of a classic! What are your thoughts? Have you read this book? Seen one of the movies or stage adaptations? Did you know what the story really entailed?