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Mary Shelley: Frankenstein

hockeycop

New Member
I was surprised to find out this book didn’t already have a thread.

Everyone’s familiar with this one even though you may not have read the book. Dr. Frankenstein finds the key to creating life (reanimating a dead body). He successfully brings life to a man. The hideous deformity and scars brand him a monster wherever he goes. He becomes resentful of Frankenstein for giving him this existence and tells him he will leave him alone if he creates a female. Frankenstein says he’ll do it at first, feeling some responsibility for seeing that his creation is happy, but end up re-nigging. The monster then kills everyone who Frankenstein loves the most.

Great read, especially for the time that it was written.

One of the great things about the book is that we truly get the monster’s perspective when he’s talking to Frankenstein about a female. We end up feeling sorry for the creature because we come to realize that he’s truly gentle at heart. It’s society that’s created the monster.

One thing that Shelly didn’t explore though was the more religious question of the monster’s acceptance. People would through rocks and sticks at the sight of the monster, but that was because of the way the monster looked. I think it would’ve been great to explore how people would react to an attractive creation before and after they learned it was created. How would the church/state react?
 

beer good

Well-Known Member
I really need to re-read this at some point. I read it years ago and loved it - as much as I love James Whale's movie, the book really reaches much further. It can be read several different ways - as mankind's revolt against an uncaring god, as a horror story about the risks of letting what we can do get the better of what we should do, as a philosophical question of what a human being is, etc...

I always felt there was some clever cosmic irony at work in that most people today, after a gazillion movies where the main character is a huge, bumbling, mute, green-faced (?!?) creature with bolts on his neck, think "Frankenstein" is the monster rather than the monster's human creator. In a way, it's perfect: you could well argue that the monster in this tale is Victor Frankenstein, and Adam (funny how the monster never kept his name in the movies, isn't it?) is the victim. Well, for a while, at least.

BTW, I read Mary Shelley's The Last Man a couple of years ago. I'll be damned if it isn't even better.
 

silverseason

New Member
You're on to something important. Suppose the "monster" had been a beautiful young woman, attractive and well-spoken. Would the fact that she had been created from parts of dead bodies still have caused her to be rejected? We are in the appearance versus reality puzzle.
 

beer good

Well-Known Member
Suppose the "monster" had been a beautiful young woman, attractive and well-spoken. Would the fact that she had been created from parts of dead bodies still have caused her to be rejected?

Any number of cheap 80s teen comedies featuring hot, ready and willing artificial girlfriends would seem to suggest that it wouldn't have.

Frankenstein certainly echoes in a lot of later "serious" science fiction, in which a creation of mankind's not only threatens us physically but by potentially replacing us - both Blade Runner and Battlestar Galactica spring to mind (and funnily enough, in both of those the robot women are programmed to be, ahem, "pleasing" in various ways). The problem for Shelley's monster isn't that he's NOT human, but that he's TOO human to be simply brushed off as an abomination. When the monster asks the human why he's not considered human, the human should have to ask himself how he's not a monster.
 

silverseason

New Member
If you live long enough you may begin to emulate the monster with replacement parts. I speak of my dental crowns, implanted lenses, hearing aids and teflon vocal chord. Any they haven't even got around to my circulatory system yet!

So while we discuss what makes us human, what's so great about being human anyhow. Aren't other species entitled to equal respect?
 

sparkchaser

Administrator and Stuntman
Staff member
So while we discuss what makes us human, what's so great about being human anyhow. Aren't other species entitled to equal respect?

They are until they come into my house at which point they have forfeited their right to exist. That rule especially applies to flies, crickets, spiders, earwigs, and mice.
 

beer good

Well-Known Member
If you live long enough you may begin to emulate the monster with replacement parts. I speak of my dental crowns, implanted lenses, hearing aids and teflon vocal chord. Any they haven't even got around to my circulatory system yet!

I once asked a room of sci-fi nuts at what point a human ceases to be completely human; surely a person with e.g. a prosthetic leg, contact lenses, false teeth and a pacemaker would count as a cyborg?

(I think the answer we agreed on was that a cyborg is a creature where the two systems - biological and mechanical - depend upon each other to work; in other words, if you can develop a pacemaker that gets its power from its host rather than from a battery, then that person is a cyborg.)
 

steffee

Active Member
I once asked a room of sci-fi nuts at what point a human ceases to be completely human; surely a person with e.g. a prosthetic leg, contact lenses, false teeth and a pacemaker would count as a cyborg?

(I think the answer we agreed on was that a cyborg is a creature where the two systems - biological and mechanical - depend upon each other to work; in other words, if you can develop a pacemaker that gets its power from its host rather than from a battery, then that person is a cyborg.)
Oh, how very thought provoking. I never thought of it like that before.

I studied Frankenstein for A level English Lit. and remember loving it. It was just such a new idea to me at the time (and still would be, as I haven't read very much science fiction since). I totally agree that Victor Frankenstein is more of a monster than his creation (Adam? I don't think I've seen any adaptation of it) ever was. In fact, I've always referred to Frankenstein's creation as 'his creation' rather than 'monster'.

Even then, I was particularly interested in the whole psychology aspect, and Victor's depression, and so on.
 

Occlith

Well-Known Member
A good story.

I liked that both Victor and his creation tell their own life stories in comparison and counterpoints to each other. They both have childhoods (innocence), adolescence (learning), adulthood (knowledge), and both develop a dislike of society in their own ways.

How would the church/state react?
I would imagine that the church would consider Victor's act a sin, since Victor was "playing God" by creating a man and the church would see the Creature as a unnatural and demonic being to be put to death whether it was beautiful or not.
 
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