Re-reading the classics: Frankenstein – book review

Up next in my series is the gruesome monster himself “Frankenstein” written by Mary Shelley. It’s my first time reading it’s not a reread but I’ll stick to the name for my title 😛

The book starts off with a series of letters written by Robert Walton – captain of a ship that is bound to the north pole, directed to his sister in which he recalls the progress of his mission. During the voyage, the ship gets stuck. There Robert comes across Viktor Frankenstein who is traveling trough the cold. He is very weakened though so the crew decides to get him to the ship where he gets treated and befriends the captain. There he begins to tell his fantastic story.

We start to see how Viktor grows up, where he goes to school, what interests him and what he studies. From natural philosophy to chemistry. During his time in the university of Ingolstadt he becomes obsessed with finding out the secret of life and one night he succeeds. He creates a creature out of different bodies and bodyparts and manages to bring it to life, however when he sees it he becomes completely horrified. Soon after, Viktor receives word that his youngest brother has passed away. When he returns to Geneva he finds out that a young girl has been convicted for the murder of his brother, but having seen his creation near the place of the crime he is assured that it is the one actually responsible for the murder. Stricken by grief he decides to retreat to the mountains. There he meets his horrific creation. The monster explains that he is in fact the one responsible for the murder of his brother but asks or Viktor to understand why. He struck him in an attempt to injure Viktor. He also explains that he is feeling terribly lonely and shunned so he asks for Viktor to create a companion for him. After some hesitation Viktor is convinced by the monster to create it. He changes his mind however and this forces the creature to murder Elisabeth – Viktor’s wife. Enraged by this he vows to chase down the creature and end it’s life. A task which he fails to do because of his death. Upon seeing his corpse the monster he realizes that he is even lonelier than before and decides to end his life.

So this is the third book in my classic series. It is written by Mary Shelley at the young age of 18. It is a Gothic novel that is also said to be among the first science fiction books ever written and some people say that it should be considered as the first true science fiction story. It has an enormous influence in literature and fiction overall spawning a vast amount of movies: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein_(film)

So far out of all three books this one has been my favorite. It tackles a lot of themes which I have a great fascination with. Mainly – the dangerous pursuit of knowledge. Viktor Frankenstein becomes obsessed with his work and wants to know more, go beyond the limits. I think a good visual representation would be the scene from Penny Dreadful:

Harry Treadaway did a fantastic job in portraying Viktor and sadly his portrayal gets often overlooked. You can see that he is a man willing to do anything to obtain the knowledge that he seeks. And that he does, but we see him pay the cost for it dearly. It also forces Viktor into isolation. He completely ignores his family and friends and detaches himself from society as his obsession slowly increases. This is also prevalent in the case of the creature. Isolation and being shunned from society draws out his more violent side. He, unlike Viktor shows that he is afraid of being alone and alienated. That’s why he wants a companion.

Another good theme that I found fascinating was prejudice or discrimination. People assume that Frankenstein’s creature is a horrific and dangerous monster. It really touches on the side of man which mostly annoys me. Stereotyping people purely based off of their appearance. He gets shot in an attempt to help a woman who was drowning just because of his appearance.

It also plays on the world of good and evil. Who here is in the right? Is Viktor to be blamed for his carelessness and inability to take responsibility for his creation? Is the monster evil for killing so many people? Being ugly and shunned from society is no excuse for a lot of the things that he did. But if we were in his spot would we do the same? Who knows.

Final verdict: 9/10

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