I read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein in high school and never cared for it much. Upon revisiting the novel a second time, I came to appreciate it. Knowing a bit about Shelley’s background helped me become more emotionally involved. I can’t imagine being the daughter of a great feminist but writing to appease two brilliant but no doubt difficult to live with men, being Percy Shelley and William Godwin, who were pushing her to make a name for herself.
Nothing draws me to an author like a good and proper amount of description. The grotesque nature of Shelley’s descriptions of Victor sewing the monster together out of various parts of numerous dead bodies absolutely gave me chills. It wasn't hard to see why Victor would become ill every time he saw a scientific instrument (though it was hard to see why Henry would nurse the sulky and elusive Victor back to health). I haven’t seen any of the cinema versions of this book but my bet would be that none of them could give her work justice.
Both Robert Walton, who was on a journey to the North Pole, and Victor, the young college student playing God, were too single minded in their pursuits not to be frustrating at times, and I was glad Walton did not play much of a part in the novel. My professor brought up a point that I hadn’t though of (and don’t know that I agree with) that Victor might have potentially been afraid of adult relationships/sexuality and that was what made him become so alienated from his family and what made him become so devoted to his work. At any rate, his both possessive and detached relationship with his “almost sister” was both interesting and problematic to me.
As a child, who didn’t at some point confuse the magical and the impossible with science? Victor’s interest in alchemy and his devotion to it even after his professors all told him more or less that it was hog wash made him seem both foolish and enchanting despite what happens as the plot unfolds. You would think, however, that a man smart enough to do what he did would have a little more common sense.
I wanted to adopt the monster and protect him up until the point in which he was denied a mate and became a killing machine. His fascination with the impoverished De Lacey family made me ache for him and his loneliness. As he got his hopes up, I worried and hoped for him, even as I scowled at Shelley for making certain things, like the way he so quickly picked up reading from Ruins of Empires, seem even more impossible than the actual creation of the monster.
I’m sure you all have probably read this, but if you haven’t, I’d recommend it.