Originally intended to be a short story, ‘Frankenstein‘ is the result of a few German horror tales and a challenge set by Lord Byron on the beautiful mountains of Switzerland. To keep busy the idle mind, Mary Shelley came up with this classic novel which narrates the tale of a creator and his cursed creation.
The story begins as a Robert Walton sets sails towards the Artic, in hopes of adventures and fortunes. But when stuck amidst ice, he comes across a half-crazed, dying man named, Victor Frankenstein and also the protagonist of the book. Frankenstein after being rescued by Sir Walton begins his tale. He begins from his early days as a student of natural sciences in Geneva and his absurd fascination for the subject leading him to delve too deeply and dig up unfavourable things. He creates a living, breathing creature, after looking at which he exclaims, “But now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart.” Terrorized and shamed by his creation, he runs away from it, thinking that it is now out of sight and never to be trouble him again. What began as a dream for Frankenstein ends a ruination for him.
The monster in the meantime tries hard to communicate with man but is turned away due to his terrifying appearance. He then observes a little human family from a distance, learns about everything there is to know, including human conduct and rituals. But when he goes ahead to approach them, he is shunned away. This hurts him greatly and he goes out to find his creator, to ask him why he was created. But the monster, being disgruntled at being abandoned, begins on a killing spree starting with Frankenstein’s cousin. He then confronts Frankenstein and asks a simple request of him, which Victor refuses. This infuriates the monster and pushes him to start on his vengeful endeavour of haunting Frankenstein wherever he goes. He kills all near and dear to Frankenstein in an attempt to make him feel the pain that he did when he was shunned away by all humans.
The story is yet again in epistolary form, much like the classic Dracula. It is set by Walton’s letters to his sister. The tale is narrated by Frankenstein to Sir Walton and hence in the form of flashbacks. The most endearing part of the tale is the meeting of Frankenstein and his creation, where they converse as equals. The monster of course is described as hideous and chilling, but this doesn’t quite make your skin crawl. Another notable part of the book is the beauty of nature that is described in abundance, making this quite a Romantic yet Gothic book. The tale is the true amalgamation of science fiction and horror and also regarded as the first book to be so.
Starting off from infancy till Frankenstein’s death, this tale grips one with fascination, horror and sorrow. One cannot help but end up feeling sorry for the monster, really. He didn’t ask to be created and then abandoned. He didn’t ask to look so repulsive and be rejected by all of mankind. And his soul, which was filled with nothing but righteousness, was left tainted by the cruelness of man. Hence, in a way one ends up sympathizing with the great monster. And the spurt of humanity in the very end of the tale as he comes to visit Victor’s corpse is as human as you and me.
In terms of a horror novel, this book doesn’t deliver many spooks but to draw parallels between the physical and theological is what sets this book apart. The implications of this book are quite subtle yet glaring. Frankenstein’s tragic horror was not in playing God and creating this creature, but rather in refusing and abandoning him. It begs the question as to who is the real monster.
And of course, there is the age old mistake of naming the monster itself Frankenstein but this is erroneous as part of rejecting the monster by Victor was by not naming it and simply referring to it as “demon”, “creature” and so on.
Published first in 1817, Frankenstein is the first science fiction meets horror story but as per me, works less on the horror scale and more on the importance of tolerance. If only Victor had managed to look past his creation’s ghastly appearance, he would have avoided this great mess that the got himself into.
Overall Rating: 6.5/10
Chaarvi is a mixture of sugar, spice and everything nice, with just a hint of Chemical X. Or maybe more. Unsure of what to focus on, she has a foot in everything – be it music, movies or books. Or even fashion. Or cooking. Or politics. Or Economics. Well, you get the drift. She is a hater of chick lit and all the riff-raff that comes along with it. Spends too much time on the internet researching on things that will come handy nowhere in life. But in reality, she’s a ninja and you better know it.
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