Frankenstein

Gothic and horror, everything I thought I didn’t like. Apparently, I do – in small doses. Frankenstein, Jane Eyre, and The Woman in White all have one thing in common: making the unrealistic credible.

Frankenstein tells the story of Dr. Frankenstein and the nameless creature to which he gives life. The vilest of all beings, it has only one purpose: revenge on its creator. The novel deals with the concept of the limits of knowledge; what Man can accomplish is not necessarily what he should accomplish; Or as is more popularly said, some things are for God alone.

The style of the novel is in the form of a long letter, with the writer giving the story in Dr. Frankenstein’s own words. The writing is crisp and direct with the narrator never deviating from his recital. Dr. Frankenstein tells his story to his new found friend, Walton, whom he meets at the extremities of the north pole. Freezing and half dead, Dr. Frankenstein, in the manner of the Ancient Mariner, tells his tale to those who are going down the same path he did: the obsession to make a great scientific discovery that will change history forever, and in the process forgetting all else.

The book has a lot of different influences. One of these is from Milton’s Paradise Lost. Percy Bysshe Shelley, the author’s husband, also had an impact on the story with many actually citing his reaction to their child (who later died) as the inspiration behind the creature. Shelley also suggested many changes in the text and adds many of the poetry extracts. But the continued reference to Milton’s Paradise Lost was the biggest influence, with Frankenstein’s creation (who never actually has a name besides ‘wretch’ or ‘fiend’) actually identifying himself with Satan. Born as Dr. Frankenstein’s Adam, he is much closer to the fallen angel, desiring revenge from his creator – except that he is alone in his fallen state.

Having created a horror, Dr. Frankenstein not only must live with the consequences of his creation’s actions, but he must deal with an even more pressing problem – should he create another creature as a companion to this monster? On the one hand he is responsible to it, but on the other, he is responsible for what this creation might do to humanity. His dealing with this issue was intriguing because both arguments – to create another or not to create – were reasonable.

It have to admit I was a little saddened when I read the story on the Turkish merchant and his daughter. Consider the following text from Frankenstein,

She instructed her daughter in the tenets of her religion (Christianity) and taught her to aspire to higher powers of intellect and an independence of spirit forbidden to the female followers of Muhammad.

It shows how far back such ideas of Islam go and how uninformed people were then, and still are about what exactly Islam does teach.

Advertisements