Written between 1816 and 1818, this is very much a novel of its era, and both language and ideas about plot are quite different from those of today. That aside, and unlike such contemporaries as Jane Austen, author Mary Shelly has never been greatly admired for her literary style, which is often awkward. But perhaps the biggest hurdle is that of our own expectations: while it certainly sent icy chills down the spines of 19th Century readers, FRANKENSTEIN is not a horror novel per se.
This a real story of a man, Dr. Victor Frankenstein, who is a brilliant scientist with an obsession: play to be God, creating a living human being all by himself. God punishes him: when the creature wakes up to life, he turns out to be a horrible monster. Frankenstein is terrified and rejects his creation.
And here’s where the tale becomes a true literary work of art. What follows is the tragedy of a creature created by the arrogance and ambition of one man, an ugly yet fully human being. The monster is not good nor bad: he’s just plain human. What he needs is affection, love and understanding. But his ugliness and clumsiness provoke that no one is willing to approach him: he scares the hell out of everybody. First, he is sad; then, he is enraged. Here’s where the real monster is created: by the hatred and frivolity of other human.
While Mary Shelly might have been stylistically weak, her story was not. Nothing like it had been written before, and the concept of a student endowing life upon a humanoid creature cobbled together from charnel house parts was unexpectedly shocking to the reading public. But even more shocking were the ideas that Shelly brought to the story. Having created this thing in his own image, what–if anything–does the creator owe it? And in posing this question, Shelly very deliberately raises her novel to an even more complex level: this is not merely the conflict of man and his creation, but also a questioning of God and his responsibility toward his creation.
I loved the book.
This review is also part of ” 2010 Support Your Local Library Reading Challenge” hosted by J. Kaye at http://j-kaye-book-blog.blogspot.com/ and “18th & 19th Century Women Writers Reading Challenge 2010” hosted by Becky from http://blbooks.blogspot.com/.