Last week I discussed Mary Shelley herself and we saw how her novel Frankenstein came to be.
Today I want to talk about Frankenstein itself.
“I am alone and miserable. Only someone as ugly as I am could love me."
I went into the novel Frankenstein thinking that I would read about Victor Frankenstein and his trusty companion Igor creating a hideous green monster that walked around with his arms outstretched mumbling and groaning. That is not what this book is.
If there was an Igor in this book, I don't remember him.
Also, while I think that the monster may have talked incoherently the way he does in the movies and our imaginations at first, we don't see that in the books. He does tell his creator, Victor Frankenstein, how he learned language so we do know that for at least part of his life he didn't know how to speak. Still, he was not quite the character we have come to believe he is.
It was hard for me, while reading, to picture exactly what the monster would look like because of the Hollywood image in my head. But then I saw this image created by illustrator Abigail Larson of Mary Shelly sitting next to the monster.
This is what I imagine now. Scary, yes. But not in the way we have seen before.
When I first began the novel, it took me quite awhile to really get into it.
The preface, said to be written by her husband rather than Mary, just bored me to death. I did not like the style, I had a hard time engaging, and I just hoped that the whole book wasn't going to feel that way.
As the first chapter started we got to the voice of Victor Frankenstein, learning about his childhood, his family, and his inclination towards science and alchemy.
Again, I had a hard time engaging. But I was getting more interested and wondering what was going to happen and when the action would begin.
Then I got to the part in the book where we are hearing from the monster himself.
We find out what has happened to him since his creation. We hear his voice for the first time. And what a voice it is. He is articulate and intelligent. And human. I was fully engaged.
I loved the chapters where the monster was speaking. They are my favorite of the book.
I felt heartbreak for the monster as you learn that he is really just a soul that wants to be loved, not feared. And the world, not even his creator, can give that to him.
From there the book became more and more interesting and more and more heartbreaking.
Mary Shelley is a fantastic writer. It is remarkable that she wrote this book at such a young age.
I wanted to read and review this book for this month on Scones and Crackers mainly because I thought this would be a scary read. But I really don't think this is a purely Halloween time read. This book has more to do with human emotions than the macabre.
The monster could have been so much more if his creator would have just learned more about what he actually created. If he could have taught him and loved him, if he could have taken responsibility for his actions instead of running from them this would have been a much different tale.
But in the end, that is what makes the story. We are left to think about our own choices. How we handle the differences of others, if we will show love in spite of fear.
I gave it only four stars because of how hard it was for me to get into it and how long it was before I really started to enjoy it but I highly recommend this book.
And just because I think it is lovely, here is another version of the book with one of my favorite paintings, Wanderer over the Sea of Fog by Caspar David Friedrich, as the cover because I think it is the perfect cover for this novel....
*Have you read Frankenstein?