So I have finished with Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I left off the last blog by asking if I would see the ‘creature’ from the book much the same as that photo of Boris Karloff from the original movie. The answer is no, I don’t. I do see a tall man but I see shaggy hair atop a very pallid and baggy face with very watery almost colourless eyes. I see a very sad face. Then I see the rest of the creature out of proportion to what we think of normal body proportions – hands too small, legs too long, torso bulky and so on.
This picture is more of a representation than anything I’ve seen before.
More importantly, I feel deeply for the creature – his sadness. It seems to me a story of being outcast from day one even though initially the creature is innocent and wants simply to be accepted and loved. The theme that interested me most of all is one that is still as relevant today as it was in the 1800’s – rejection and cruelty lead to social outcasts who are bitter and turn to violence.
It also seems to me that the book reflects Mary Shelley’s feeling about live itself. She was 18 when she wrote it. Her mother, a famous feminist, had died as a result of giving birth and it is likely that her father inherently blamed her for this. She had a stepmother with whom she could not relate and was, as a young teen sent away. Her father rejected her wish to live with Shelley so she ran away with him and was totally rejected by her father. She lost her first child with Shelley two weeks after it was born and was pregnant with her second during the writing.
The themes of rejection, innocence and loss echo throughout the book. I almost felt that Mary really empathised with the ‘creature’. Additionally, it seems to me that she wrote Victor Frankenstein as someone with extreme manic periods followed by deep depression. There was a lot of discussion on the course forums about bipolar and, without knowing it, Mary may have written about someone close to her, Byron perhaps.
So to me this book is now more about what the writer unconsciously brings to a story outside of the actual theme which, in Frankenstein, was to be careful of science without ethical considerations.
Finally, I felt this writing was more accessible to a modern reader in terms of language and style. It flowed quickly, even when the creature was telling his story.
Now on to Poe and Hawthorne. Something different again. I’m looking forward to reading Poe’s poems again.