Frankenstein by Mary Shelly- Book Review

Frankenstein (Or The Modern Prometheus) by Mary Shelly

P1100685The book was written in 1816 when Mary Shelly was about 18, and published a few years later.  I think it’s important to remember how young she was because we all wrote drivel as teenagers, although mine was bad poetry in sad little notebooks since destroyed and not published novels.

Plot

Frankenstein is not the creature brought back from the dead, he is the man who does the weird science.  Whether either is a monster though, is open to debate.  I believe that is the crux of the story.  In my opinion, they are both knobs.

Victor Frankenstein lives a pretty plum life with his family in Switzerland and he heads off to the University of Ingolstadt to study the sciences. There he becomes obsessed with the idea of reanimating the dead, the exact ‘stuff’ he has to do in order to raise the dead is somewhat glossed over but I assume it involves Bunsen burners and beakers just like my GCSE’s. Instead of being chuffed at his achievement he gets all scared and runs away, then spends months on his sick bed and people did back then.

I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.

The reanimated dead corpse, who is given no name other than daemon (which seems harsh), then goes on a merry journey through the Alps where he lives off berries and peeps on villagers. But spurned by people, because he is grotesque, he because angry and resentful of Frankenstein for creating him, so he murders a bunch of people .  The God/Mankind parallels are layed on pretty thickly although I think it seems to me more like a parent/child relationship.

The idea I guess is that human beings are actually quite awful and yet they judge him because he is different, but I found the daemon to be pretty awful too so I had no sympathy for him. Equally, Dr Frankenstein should maybe have thought his plan through a little more before he started stealing corpses. So I return to my original point; they’re both knobs.

Critique

The main problem with the book is that it is soooo boring!  I felt like I was torturing my brain to continue reading it.  It’s very overwritten, everything has to be said and said about 15 times.  It’s waffly and long-winded but this was the style of the times.

So strange an incident has happened to us that I cannot forbear recording it…

I also have issues with the structure of the book; it starts with a series of letters from a man to his sister as he starts a long ocean voyage, which reminded me a lot  of the opening of Dracula. In his letters, he retells the story of a man he has rescued from the sea; Frankenstein.  Towards the end Frankenstein is reunited with the daemon who shares his story so it becomes a clunky story in a story in some letters.  

In a story about reanimated the dead the part that requires the biggest suspension of disbelief is that people can remember events that happened to them so accurately, then pass them on to someone else who also recalls them perfectly.

Conclusion: read Dracula instead.