Guest Post: thoughts on Frankenstein
Posted January 7, 2013on:
Please welcome today’s guest poster, Allison, from Geek Banter. Allison is a huge science fiction fan, a writer, a gamer, and an all around geek. When it comes to anime, scifi, and gaming, this is the woman who walks the walk. On her blog she talks all things speculative – books, movies, tv shows, video games, everything that makes geeks smile.
When I started talking to bloggers about guest posts, I pretty much left the topic up to them. Allison chose something near and dear to my heart: Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Here’s Allison’s thoughts on and experiences with this beloved early science fiction novel:
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by Allison from Geek Banter
Before I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in high school, I believed all the misconceptions the parodies and movie adaptations led me to. Frankenstein, of course, was a greyish-green monster with bolts coming out of its neck that comes alive and kills the mad scientist who created it. Little did I know how much more interesting and terrifying the original story is.
Mary Shelley came up with the idea for Frankenstein when she was visiting with Lord Byron, John William Polidori, and her husband Percy Shelley. They were reading a book of ghost stories together, and Lord Byron challenged everyone to write their own horror story. Mary wanted to come up with a story that “would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror–one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” I would say she succeeded, because Frankenstein is creepy. It is just a different sort of creepy than I was expecting.
The book begins with a series of letters from the seafaring explorer Robert Walton to his sister as he heads out on a dangerous voyage to the North Pole. Of course, this confused me, and I immediately checked the cover to see if I was reading the right book. This was a story about a man who created a monster, wasn’t it? Where was the scientist, the lightning, the lab, and Igor? Well they were all to come (except the Igor part–that character comes from the 1931 film and isn’t from the original story), but Mary had other things to tell about first.
Walton rescues a man named Victor Frankenstein (what? I thought Frankenstein was the name of the monster?)from the ice, nurses him back to health, and hears his story. Victor tells a fasincating tale of his life growing up in Geneva, falling in love, and studying philosophy and chemistry at university. And, of course, he tells Walton about his attempt to take on the role of God and create human life from dead body parts.
And this is really the creepy part of the story–not just the act of experimenting on dead people, but the obsession that overcomes Victor and takes over his entire existence, effectively ruining his happy life. Ironically, he is overcome with revulsion when he finally accomplishes all he strived for and brings the miserable creature into the world.
The most interesting thing about the story, I think, is that Frankenstein’s creature is not a pure evil monster. He becomes one after Frankenstein shuns him and refuses to make him a companion so he won’t be alone in the world. I enjoyed the appearance of Frankenstein in the movie Van Helsing, where Frankenstein’s monster attacks one of the main characters, she asks him, “What do you want?” and he simply replies, “To exist.”
Fascinating and horrible (or horribly fascinating, if you will), Frankenstein is likely a read you will never forget even if you want to.
Thanks for inviting me to participate in Vintage SciFi Month, Andrea!
by Allison from Geek Banter