Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

18490Hi!!! I am back from another little hiatus. I did it because in two months or so, I have exams at uni and I have to study. Good thing is that one of them is English Literature, and I have to read five books for it, and I will of course review them on my blog. 😀
The first book I decided to read is Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. For those of you not familiar with the volume nor the writer, it was published in 1818 when the author was just 19 years old. This book was born because of a bet Mary did with her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, Lord Byron and other friends while they were staying in Geneva during that period. They bet that they would write a horror story, and the person who would write the most scary, will win. Mary was the only one who actually finished her story, and it had a good success with the public that more editions were published afterwards.

Frankenstein is surely one of the most famous stories that were done and re-done on TV and in cinemas. It still scares people nowadays, and it does it because the revenge of the monster is still very actual. It starts with the letters captain Robert Walton sends to his sister to let her know about Doctor Frankenstein’s story. He met the doctor while going towards the Arctic with his ship. The crew found him alone and exhausted on the ice, and decided to help him and saved him. He then decided to tell Robert his story, but only in the last chapter we find out the reason why.

The version I read was divided in three volumes of less than ten chapters each. The first volume, besides the letters by Robert Walton to his sister, narrates about the personal story of Victor Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, or fiend, as he often calls his creature. He says that he was fascinated by science because of some old books he read, and during his college years, he developed some theories and started working on creating a human being from scratch. The doctor did not realize that this was against nature, for we cannot create life from nothing. Yes, we could argue about that since we are in 2015, but still, a creature like Frankenstein hasn’t been created yet by scientists (that we know of). The doctor was devoured by his own passion for science and he thought he could push himself to go beyond human limits. He did not count that what he created could possess a free will, and emotions like every other human, and this mistake cost him the lives of the people he loved.

When the monster awoke, the doctor was astonished by the horrid face he had. He had assembled parts of various dead beings to create him, thus he was not perfect. He did not hide his disgust, and his initial reaction starts a long chain of murders and a sense of repulsion in the doctor because he has made a mistake. He has made a mistake in creating the creature. Is it that easy? No, naturally. By creating the monster, Victor was like a father who procreate a son with his lover, except here the female part is absent. By neglecting the monster and call it horrendous names, it is as if a father is shitting on his own son. From my perspective, more than hating the fact that people get scared by him, the creature is angry that the doctor discards him. He took great care in finding the parts of his body to give him life, yet he would prefer him dead only because he is not human as others. This results in the deaths of Victor’s brother William. The monster has threatened his creator by killing an innocent linked to him by blood.

In the second volume, when the doctor and Frankenstein met again, we find out what he did after he went away from his creator’s laboratory. The creature learnt to speak, to understand emotions, and other things by observing a family of three, the De Lacey, whom he considered nice people from what he saw. It was like he truly became human, although his features were nothing like that. With this hope, Frankenstein decides to show himself to the family and to the head of the household. The man did not question the creature’s aspect because he was blind: this is important, because it shows that the creature was indeed not really evil, he was evil only in the eyes of others who judged by his appearance. In fact, when his son Felix returns home, he sends him away and decides to abandon that house fearing that the monster will come back. In all of his mental ramblings, the creature decides that there is just one thing that the doctor can do to help him, which is create a female companion to him. If he did so, he would leave him alone and live his life far from people, because he would have someone who would be like him and they would keep each other company. The doctor, angry and fearful, decides not to do so but in the end he accepts. The request of the creature is what each one of us would want: somebody who would accept us for what we are, even if we are not beautiful, or we don’t have the best personality. Frankenstein thinks that asking for a companion is the solution to loneliness, and in the contest of the story, I agree with him. Often, the man acts so violently because of the lack of love and affection in his life. His Thanatos gets stronger because the Eros is not balanced, and he arrives at some point where he doesn’t set a clear line between what’s moral and what is not. The doctor is thinking too much with his scientific brain to understand the simple demand of his “son”.

The doctor is still full of doubts, because he doesn’t want to create another monster to haunt the world. There is no certainty that he will love the creature either. That is why with the excuse to study more, he dedicates himself time to travel Europe with his friend Henry Clerval, until he retires somewhere remote to start his creation. He is aware the monster is following his every move, and his response to what he does is always in time too. That is why, after a sudden rage that makes him destroy the creature he was working on, Frankenstein gets his hands dirty again and kills off Henry. Like he did in the beginning, he makes it so the wrong person is blamed. In this case, the doctor is accused of the murder, and there seems to be nobody he can tell who is the real assassin. He has enough, though, but he doesn’t change his mind. He is set on destroying the creature for once and for all after the monster takes away yet another person he loved from his life.

The doctor fails is attempt, though. He wants to go to the lengths of the world to destroy the creature, but he is not as strong as he is and it is like this is going to fail before it even beings. I appreciate Victor’s determination, because it shows that when one sets his mind on doing something (in this case, revenge) he can try to make it. Had the creature been a human born like any other, he probably could have made it. It was inevitable that the travels he engaged to kill the monster would wear the doctor out at some point. This is why he tries to pass the testimony to Robert Walton at the end. He wants him to track down the monster and kill him in his absence, but the captain decides to go back and not do so because he listens to his crew who doesn’t want to go further in the north and towards the Polar Circle, the essence of  sublime. Unlike Victor, he doesn’t think of himself only. And after the doctor dies and he sees the creature, he is surely astonished but is calm. In that moment we truly realize the link that the creature had with its creator. It was really like the bond of a father and son: they may dislike each other, but the blood ties stay strong. With the death of the doctor it’s like Frankenstein has lost his goal. He has nobody to talk to anymore, and nobody to go after. His destiny is not told to the reader exactly, but if I were to imagine what happens to him after he leaves the ship, I would say that he would either kill himself or try to starve himself to death. I don’t believe he would go after the people who showed disgust upon seeing him. It would be pointless violence, because it would be directed to nobody. Those people would be enraged and upset at the creature, but then? They are not like the doctor, they cannot fulfill his request nor acknowledge him as their “creation”.

RATING: 4/5

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About purplebass

hey, you! Thank you for stopping by. I'm Tweety, and I am a girl who loves writing, reading, and watching stuff on TV and write reviews about it. I currently study languages (English and Spanish) @ University here where I live in Italy. I dream to become a teacher or something more impossible, like a writer. For the moment I only write stories on my laptop and review a lot of books. Speaking of which, I'm really into YA despite I am not a teenager anymore, and if you have suggestions, I am always open to hear your book advice! :D
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