Friday, February 11, 2011


Goodreads Summary:
Dr. Victor Frankenstein, an ambitious young scientist, is consumed by a fanatic desire to create a living being. He fashions an eight-foot-tall creature and succeeds in animating him, but, horrified by his visage, perceives his creation to be a monster and frightens him away. The monster, wandering in search of human companionship, is spurned and repulsed by all he approaches and learns to hate and to kill. He confronts his maker with a terrible choice: unless Frankenstein creates for him a mate, he will go on a rampage of destruction.

Frankenstein, a masterpiece of 19th-century Gothic horror and considered to be the first science-fiction novel, is a subversive tale about the corrupt tendencies in humanity's most "civilized" ambitions.

My Review:
I read this for the first time when I was 19 and it was immediately my favorite book. I re-read it a few times after that and always loved it. Now, several years later, I picked it up again and am viewing it totally differently. As with everything else in life, I guess it's me that's changing. I think sometimes we want things to stay just as we remembered them, and I don't know if that will be the case or not with Frankenstein. It took me two weeks to get to page 50 and now that I'm here and the story is really starting I'm beginning to enjoy it again.

***Spoiler alert***

It's hard not to make a correlation between The Salem Witch Trials and the trial of Justine...and her trial also makes me think of The Scarlet Letter for this reason: her acquittal would, if it occurred, condemn her to a life of judgement by her community and also because of the mentions of a scaffold.

Now is the complexity I missed in my teens: The monster is telling his story to Frankenstein who is telling it to Robert who is writing it in a letter to Margaret. Now it's hard to separate out my own reactions as I want to think about how the various characters are reacting (mostly Frankenstein). I really want to think about it from his perspective, not from an outside one that as a teen made me feel sorry for the monster. I still do in some ways, but there are greater complexities going on here.

And as he claims he was initially good and speaks of eating berries it makes me wonder does the initial donor of body parts play a role in who he is or would good nurturing have been enough to keep him from killing?

So if you had a baby and abandoned it at birth and it came back years later and hurt your loved ones for revenge whose fault is it? I think that depends on whether or not the person knew what he/she was doing was wrong. They are both accountable in different ways and to different degrees, I think.


  1. I only just read this last year and was so amazed at all the ethical issues it brings up. But I wonder how I would have viewed this as a teenager? I'd be interested to know how your perspective has changed.

  2. As a teenager I loved it. The problem with Frankenstein as a teenager is I loved it for the language, I felt sorry for the monster, and I hugely missed the larger themes. So, now it's a very different read and I'll post a review here when I've finished, but I'll probably also update with thoughts as I go.

  3. I read this a few years ago. I had a bit of trouble getting through it. I really enjoyed your thoughts on it. I like your points about how we change over time and so will our perception. Personally, I do think good nurturing would have kept him from killing.

  4. I try to re-read it once a year. I've always loved Shelley. And yes I think in many ways the morals of the monster are actually stronger than those in Frankenstein. This one is a case for nature/nurture no doubt, and I think it proves nurture.