I have always wanted to read the book Frankenstein. The monster is so iconic in our society, I can’t really think of a time when I didn’t know about him. Oddly enough, I believe I first was introduced to him by a character called Herman Munster from the old TV show “The Munsters”, ha, good times. So anyways, I felt compelled to explore the lore of Frankenstein by going back to the beginning, by reading the book by Mary Shelley “Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.”
The book opens with letters from an explorer, Robert Walton to his sister, Margaret Saville, who is living in England. These letters are dated sometime in the 1700’s, which I guess is when the whole story is taking place. The book itself was written in 1818. In any event, Walton is bent on exploring the North Pole. Through his letters to his sister we find out that they have seen a huge person with a team of dogs and a sledge riding through the ice. In the next days they find another man who is on a sledge, but this man is near death. So they bring him up on board and nurse him back to health. This is Victor Frankenstein.
The story is then told to Walton, who is writing down the account of Frankenstein. It should be noted that we actually do not find out the mans name until about page 30. There are a lot of things in the novel that are not in any movies or shows I have seen. Which was good because it made the book fresh. They say the movie is never like the book and there is no more stunning example of that than what we have in this story.
The begging of Frankenstein’s tale has to do with him growing up. He is actually from Sweden and goes and does his studies in Germany, it what is called natural philosophy, which he takes an interest particularly in chemistry. So let’s get to what everyone is interested in this book for. The monster.
Surprisingly to me, only a few paragraphs is dedicated to describe Frankenstein’s monster, maybe not even that. There is no electrical charges powering through lighting rods to summon the monster to life. There are no bolts sticking out of the monster’s neck. He isn’t even described as green, but a sick yellowish color. It is never mentioned that body parts from corpse’s are use to construct him, but that Frankenstein used some other means of building muscle and such. Frankenstein did create him bigger though, about 8 feet tall! This monster is described as horrifying, so horrible that everyone was terrified when they saw him. The monster learns through various observations of humans how to communicate and eventually learns to read. He is quite a well spoken and complex monster, something that is not played up in a lot of movies, save maybe “Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein”.
The title is interesting. “Frankenstein, or the modern Prometheus”. From the little research I did Prometheus is in Greek translated “Forethought”. In the Greek mythologies Prometheus was a titan who was always fighting with Zeus. He was the creator of man. At first when I heard the title I thought perhaps it was referencing something to with creation, and that still maybe the case, but the story of Prometheus has some interesting parallels with Frankenstein. For one, the monster Frankenstein creators inflicts horrible psychological pain on him. The monster doesn’t really ever hurt the doctor, but harms his loved ones. Sending Frankenstein into terrible bouts of depression and guilt, as well as paranoia for the safety of his family and friends. In one of the myths of Prometheus, Zeus punishes the titan by chaining him to a rock and having an eagle eat his liver, and regenerate by night. An endless torment, much like Frankenstein’s torment that he can not rid himself of.
Secondly, as mentioned before, Prometheus was the creator of mankind, and Frankenstein was the creator of his own type of man. Except that Victor is sickened by his creation and abandons him upon sight.
To sum it up so I don’t give away any spoilers, the book is good. It’s worth checking out to see wear the lore and mythos of the hole Frankenstein genre originates from. Some parts of the book seem belabored at times, but I found it a really fascinating read. The author does keep a good pace in general, and you’ll be able to read it fairly quickly. You can find in for free on google books, which is how I read a lot of the classics nowadays.