Updated: Jul 16, 2019
"Purporting to be the record of an explorer, it tells of Victor Frankenstein, a brilliant but wayward student of science, who builds a human from dead flesh. Horrified by what he has done, he abandons his creation. The creature, an outcast for his horrific appearance, learns language and becomes civilized. In time, he attempts to join society but is rejected because he is assumed to have murderous intentions. Spurned, he seeks vengeance on his creator. So begins a cycle of destruction, with Frankenstein and his 'monster' pursuing each other to the extremes of nature until all vestiges of their humanity are lost in monomaniacal hatred."
In the horror genre, I have very few favorite female writers, but Mary Shelley is one of them. The way she weaves environments with character defining scenes is beautifully done in 'Frankenstein.' At the tender age of 18, Shelley was able to convey grief and loss through a single story. She created a relatable 'creature' that many readers will have pity for, but also an obsessive young man that can hardly be hated. Some people may be intimidated by the more diverse English language from the early 1800's, but, in my opinion, the story would not have had the same impact if it had been written today.
Not just horror readers will enjoy 'Frankenstein,' but also those who like to read philosophy. Shelley brings up life discerning questions that even society meddles with today. It's amazing to think that a two century old book discusses problems we still deal with.
The book begins with a sea captain that picks up a stranger that was stranded on a raft of ice, and this man has a fascinating story to tell. The entire book is a letter written by the sea captain to his sister, which he details every bit of Victor Frankenstein's several year tale. Readers get to follow Frankenstein's life from the moment his 'creature' is made to the end of his days, which traverses the globe. When Shelley begins to lull over her love of environments, she quickly picks up with character or story development that keeps our attention from wandering.
'Frankenstein' focuses on the need to be loved and accepted to live a happy existence,as well as reaching our dreams, but Shelley shows how achieving such things can cause a crushing defeat in the latter pursuit: "Night was far advanced when I came to the halfway resting-place, and seated myself beside the fountain. The stars shone at intervals, as the clouds passed from over them; the dark pines rose before me, and every here and there a broken tree lay on the ground: it was a scene of wonderful solemnity, and stirred strange thoughts within me. I wept bitterly; and clasping my hands in agony, I exclaimed, 'Oh! stars, and clouds, and winds, ye are all about to mock me: if ye really pity me, crush sensation and memory; let me become as nought; but if not, depart, depart, and leave me in darkness.' "
There are other characters we read of, including Frankenstein's best friend, Henry, and his long time love interest, Elizabeth (both of who grew up with Frankenstein). Henry comes from a well-to-do merchant family, while Elizabeth was orphaned from a wealthy family, then adopted by the Frankensteins as a future wife for Victor. Unfortunately, we learn little about them or Victor's family, that when any of them do die, it's not felt personally by the reader. There are other characters that had major events in the story, but as with the friends, they weren't developed enough to bring up any emotion at their passing.
After Frankenstein sets out after his creation,we meet the 'creature' at the top of a mountain. He is devastated that his creator hates him, and that the other humans he has met also hated him. "I expected this reception,' said the demon. 'All men hate the wretched; how, then, must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.' "
The 'creature' gives Frankenstein an ultimatum: he either makes him a female companion or he will kill everyone Frankenstein loves and adores." 'What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself; the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive,and it shall content me.' " Although, by this time, the 'creature' has already murdered Frankenstein's youngest brother, Victor agrees to make him a companion, but with serious regret soon after.
The majority of the story concerns Frankenstein trying fool-hardly to protect all those he loves while the 'creature' murders them one by one. The most surprising of the murders is Henry's. After Frankenstein changes his mind on making another creation, the 'creature' quickly finds Henry and kills him, but Frankenstein is accused of the murder and spends quite some time in prison for it. "But I was doomed to live; and, in two months, found myself as awaking from a dream, in a prison, stretched on a wretched bed, surrounded by gaolers, turnkeys, bolts, and all the miserable apparatus of a dungeon. "
Frankenstein is eventually released from prison when the evidence doesn't add up, and witnesses come forward, claiming to have seen Victor elsewhere at the time of the murder. Frankenstein is, at this time, in a drowning melancholy and madness, but this doesn't stop him from marrying Elizabeth. The 'creature' foretold Frankenstein that he would be with him on his wedding night, and Victor uses this to his advantage - arming himself with pistols and knives on the honeymoon. Yet, to no avail, Frankenstein is unable to outlive or outsmart the 'creature' at any turn.
'Frankenstein' is a must-read for all readers. Although many horror stories today pertain to a creature killing it's master, none of them can reach the grief stricken peaks as Shelley has. Every passage in this book reads like poetry. Every interaction between Frankenstein and his 'creature' is fascinating to the reader. And, before Frankenstein dies, he leaves the sea captain with words of wisdom that even readers could benefit from: "Seek happiness in tranquillity and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries."
WIN A FREE COPY OF MARY SHELLEY'S 'FRANKENSTEIN!'
As the first contest for Gore and Tea, I have decided to give away a brand new 2012 Collector's Edition of Mary Shelley's 'Frankenstein' from Books-A-Million (not sponsored). You will not be disappointed in this classic horror tale.
If you have already read this book, this would make a great gift to any young reader as an introduction to classic reading.
I am only giving away 1 copy, so click the picture below to be taken to the contest page and fill out the form! The contest is open to all countries,but please, no P.O. Boxes.
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Contest ends on May 30,2019.