Mary Shelley's famous horror novel Frankestein was first published in 1818. She started writing it two years earlier, at the age of 18. Beign a classic - classics are supposed to be better novels - and having the subtitle "The Modern Prometheus" it caught my attention. I wanted to read what is the link with an ancient Greek mythology and a modern novel. I also wanted to know the truth about the monster imitated in so many ways in numerous comics, films and other books. The thruth shocked me, I was really disappointed.
Shelley's mother was an eager suffragette. Shelley self rebelled against the norms and morality of her time: she married a man who had already been married before. This man was Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was also a famous writer. Shelley tells in her introduction to Frankestein that after she had written the first version of her novel her husband suggested her to expand the story. I do not think that it was a very good suggestion.
Frankestein is not a long book, but however some parts of it seem to be lengtened only for having a bigger novel. Anyhow, there are some parts told very shortly. For example main character's childhood is told too verbosely during Victor's great fear is described only in one four-lined paragraph. Shelley's language is a little old-fashioned and sometimes it was hard to understand what is meant in the book. But after rereading I finally got the point.
I do not know why, but I myself do not like very much books written in first person. In Frankestein, there are three narrators: first, the Britishman Walton writes letters to his sister, then the main character Victor Frankenstein tells his story and inside Victor's story the monster tells his own. Finally Walton is the narrator again. After all that, I think the structure of the novel is a bit confusing.
The book begins with a frame story. Walton is in Russia and tells in his letters that he had met a poor scientist there. Then scientist starts to tell his frightening life story. He is Victor Frankenstain, Genevese, who starts to study natural philosophy, assembles a gigantic human creature and give life to it. Frankestein does not dare to be with it and the monster escapes. After maltreatment of humans, monster curses his creator and starts to revenge him. In the end, the strory goes again to the ship of the Britishman.
Frankestein is supposed to be a horror story, but actually I do not think so. Shelley can not describe the character's agony and feeling of horror, so readers do not feel horror. The only alarming thing was how this creature became a monster. The monster is gentle and helpful before so many human teases him beats him and abandons him. All abandon him and finally he is alone. He heards and reads then about humanity and all that dreadfullness which belongs to it: slavery, violence, cheating, lying, murder and so on. Only after then he becomes a murderer and that monster he is. So, he learnt his beastiality from humans!
However, when I read monster groaning about his miserable life which finally forced him to kill people, I could not help laughing. Or how about this: "Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all humankind sinned against me? - - I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on." The monster is so disbeliefable and naïve that it makes me doubt that Shelley misspelled genre of the novel. There are only one or two different letters between horror and humor.
(C) Mika Kähkönen, 28.4. 2003
Sivut (C) Mika M. Kähkönen 6/1998-