Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (most commonly referred to simply as Frankenstein) by Mary Shelley is an old classic of Gothic literature.
This is a novel about a young hardworking man called Victor, who, in his haste to fulfill his ambition of creating his own imitation of life, brings about the ultimate destruction on those he holds most dear.
While Victor begins this unnatural journey filled with optimism about the potential scientific advancements his work will create, he is ultimately left with nothing but hatred and loathing for his own creation.
Frankenstein may be a classic Gothic horror story on the surface but within those lines lies a deep and poignant exploration of what it truly means to be human. What is it that makes Victor human while his creation is derided by society? Shelley purposefully gives the creature no name to show he does not belong, that he is not meant to be.
Had Shelley left us with nothing but Victor’s view point perhaps our impressions of his ‘monster’ would be the same as his. Perhaps we too would call for the unnatural creations ultimate destruction. Yet she doesn’t, she gives us a look at the creatures perspective, and from that we see the lonely tortured soul that it is, and while it commits monstrous acts it is ultimately Victor who must answer for those crimes. It was his arrogance and naked ambition that has created all of this.
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This is a horror book on the surface and a sad melancholy one on the inside. The exploration of relationship between creator and creation is tear jerking in its complexities. Victor hates what he has created but the creature knows only that he was abandoned by the one who had wanted him most. He lost in a world he does not understand nor ask to be a part of.
Ultimately Frankenstein is an allegory about man’s inevitable need to over-reach and impart his own desires upon the world. It was written in an attack on the industrial revolution, hence the ‘modern Prometheus’ portion of the novels full title.
Frankenstein has had a far reaching impact on literature and popular culture and it is arguably the first fully developed science-fiction/fantasy novels.
If you haven’t read Frankenstein before I highly recommend you do. You can get a copy over on Amazon for the Kindle for free.