View Poll Results: "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley: Final Verdict

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    19 32.76%
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Thread: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  1. #1
    Pièce de Résistance Scheherazade's Avatar
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    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    We are all familiar with the story of Frankenstein: Dr. Frankenstein works night and day in an ambitious bid to create another living being. However, when he completes his task, he is taken aback because in his eyes his creature is nothing more than a 'monster'. The creature, abandoned by his 'creator', leads a desperately lonely life: his ugliness makes everyone hate him and, in return, he learns to hate as well.

    This is a very touching and beautifully told story, charm of which is hardly captured in movies. It is much more than a mad-scientist-trying-to-create-a-monster-at-any-cost story. Shelley also investigates some philosophical/religious questions: What are/should be the relationship between the 'Creator' and the 'Created'? Is a Creator justified to cast away his creation because it does not turn out to be the way he desired? What are the responsibilities of a Creator? Is he not supposed to provide for and make sure that his Creation is fully equiped to deal with its environment?

    In some ways, it is a book ahead of its time. The issues raised by the creation of 'the Creature' can be connected to some recent discussions such as 'genetic modification'. Is it OK to play 'God' and to what degree?

    Another striking aspect of the book is that, along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, although it is one of the first examples of the 'modern' horror genre, it does not resort to gruesome detailing of 'horror' elements. There is no open violence and bloodshed even though it is implied in these books. They mostly concentrate on the psychological and social aspects, questioning the effects of such occurances on individuals - unlike today's horror books, which go to any length to shock and 'scare' the reader by describing physical violence.

    10/10 KitKats!
    ~
    "It is not that I am mad; it is only that my head is different from yours.”
    ~


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    I would like to say that the are we allowed to play God is more related to moderm perceptions of the book than anything. Mary was deeply conected with the philosophers of her time (being her and Percy atheists or losely religious to worry with god) and Rousseau and his education system. They had not problem with science at their time.

  3. #3
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    I hated Frankenstein, I remember reading it in highschool and writing a scathing book review on it. My main problem was that it was obvious the author was trying to make us feel sorry for the monster, in a very contrived sort of way. I took exception to this because no matter how he was creator and how little love he received he killed many innocents. The plot was very "movie of the week."
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    The Word is Serendipitous Lote-Tree's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scheherazade View Post
    Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    We are all familiar with the story of Frankenstein: Dr. Frankenstein works night and day in an ambitious bid to create another living being. However, when he completes his task, he is taken aback because in his eyes his creature is nothing more than a 'monster'. The creature, abandoned by his 'creator', leads a desperately lonely life: his ugliness makes everyone hate him and, in return, he learns to hate as well.

    This is a very touching and beautifully told story, charm of which is hardly captured in movies. It is much more than a mad-scientist-trying-to-create-a-monster-at-any-cost story. Shelley also investigates some philosophical/religious questions: What are/should be the relationship between the 'Creator' and the 'Created'? Is a Creator justified to cast away his creation because it does not turn out to be the way he desired? What are the responsibilities of a Creator? Is he not supposed to provide for and make sure that his Creation is fully equiped to deal with its environment?

    In some ways, it is a book ahead of its time. The issues raised by the creation of 'the Creature' can be connected to some recent discussions such as 'genetic modification'. Is it OK to play 'God' and to what degree?

    Another striking aspect of the book is that, along with Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Dracula, although it is one of the first examples of the 'modern' horror genre, it does not resort to gruesome detailing of 'horror' elements. There is no open violence and bloodshed even though it is implied in these books. They mostly concentrate on the psychological and social aspects, questioning the effects of such occurances on individuals - unlike today's horror books, which go to any length to shock and 'scare' the reader by describing physical violence.

    10/10 KitKats!
    Yes. Excellent book. Bleak. But I enjoyed very much.

    Opening quotation in the book sets off the challenge:

    'Did I request thee Maker from my clay to mould me man?
    I sent my Soul through the Invisible,
    Some letter of that After-life to spell:
    And by and by my Soul return'd to me,
    And answer'd "I Myself am Heav'n and Hell :"


    Blog: Rubaiyats of Lote-Tree and Poetry and Tales

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    I read it when I was 14. I was a little afraid at first, I will admit. You have to consider my only knowledge of the story was Boris Karloff. I was pleasantly surprised by it. Sure he did some terrible things, but as time went on, Shelley made him human. I was impressed by the way that she did it, how his character evolved from the one to the other.

    Has anyone ever read Shelley's The Last Man? This story was much more interesting to me than the other, but I must admit that Frankenstein was the story that got me interested in her other writings.

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    I think one angle to understand the book from is Mary Shelly's relationships with her own care givers. Her mother died 10 days after Mary Shelly was born. Mary Shelly had an excellent relationship with her governess, but her father sent the governess away when Mary Shelly was only three. The governess was replaced by a stepmother who was very unkind both to Mary Shelly and to Mary Shelly's father. I guess there is enough there to cause Mary Shelly a lot of grief, and also some uncertainty about who is to blame for what. Parallels can be drawn between her experiences and Frankenstein's (happy in his family relationships, but all is lost) and also between Mary Shelly's experiences and the monster's. (Despair, undeserved mistreatment, abandonment.)

    If I remember correctly, we don't even know what really happened to the monster between the day he was made and the day he met Frankenstein again. Frankenstein hears the monster's story, but does not believe it. Did the monster lie or tell the truth? This ambiguity may reflect the uncertainty Mary Shelly felt (I assume) about who was to blame for her own suffering. Children often blame themselves for family situations they cannot control. She could also (irrationally) blame her mother for not being there for her, her governess for leaving, her father for sending the governess away, her step mother for replacing the governess and for being cruel. She may even have blamed herself for blaming her father. After all, she had much to be grateful to him for.

    Not that I am dismissing the religious aspect of the Frankenstein-Monster relationship. With respect to JCamilo, it was Mary Shelly who put the religious language in the story. I assume she did so on purpose. She may have been interested in this religious issue, even if she was not herself religious.

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    There is no lack of respect, no worries.
    She didn't put religious language, She put Miltonian Language, there is a difference there. Neither the monster or Frankstein are anything but literary beings, neither was truly mystical.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    She put Miltonian Language, there is a difference there. Neither the monster or Frankstein are anything but literary beings, neither was truly mystical.
    The parables of Jesus refer to religious teachings while discussing non-mystical things. So why would you think that Dr Frankenstein's and the monster's non-mystical status means that the book can have no religious meaning? You lost me there. Perhaps I am not understanding what you mean my literary and mystical.

    You lost me again with the Miltonian language thing. Mary Shelly must have known that Milton's writings are religious. At least the better known ones are. By choosing Miltonian language, she would inevitably suggest religion to her readers. She must have known that too, and done it deliberately.

    Certainly the religious implications are not lost on the monster. When he read Paradise Lost, he compared himself both to Adam and Satan. He even drew a direct parallel between his relationship with Frankenstein and humanity's relationship with God.

    "Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance."

    http://www.online-literature.com/she...ankenstein/15/

    Unless I very much miss the mark, the reference to "filthy type" is a dreadful inversion of the bilbical teaching that humanity was made in God's image.
    Last edited by Brandyblue; 10-13-2007 at 12:17 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Brandyblue View Post
    The parables of Jesus refer to religious teachings while discussing non-mystical things. So why would you think that Dr Frankenstein's and the monster's non-mystical status means that the book can have no religious meaning? You lost me there. Perhaps I am not understanding what you mean my literary and mystical.
    1001 Nights also are about teaching, there is nothing to do with religion. Using a theme that appears in a religous text is not the same as talking about religion.

    You lost me again with the Miltonian language thing. Mary Shelly must have known that Milton's writings are religious. At least the better known ones are. By choosing Miltonian language, she would inevitably suggest religion to her readers. She must have known that too, and done it deliberately.
    Actually, she could have used anything and yet people see something religious in her text. She just can not tell what kind of interpretation she will generate. She in other hand was not using Milton to suggest anything mystical or religious. That is her difference from Milton.

    Certainly the religious implications are not lost on the monster. When he read Paradise Lost, he compared himself both to Adam and Satan. He even drew a direct parallel between his relationship with Frankenstein and humanity's relationship with God.
    He is talking about Milton. He is someone cast away from "Heaven" by his father. That is what she is talking about. When the monster refers to this or god (as frankstein) they do not think about faith, dogmas, eternal life, sin, guilty.

    "Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God, in pity, made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of yours, more horrid even from the very resemblance."
    As the example you posted, He refers to God because this is a cultural trait. Only because someone refer to god, it does not mean something religious otherwise we would think she is talking about Greek Religion too, since she refers to a greek god in her title.
    In fact, the title says much about her relation with God, she is talking about someone taking a power away from God and In fact, I only said the book cointain no criticism in the sense Man should not do it.

    http://www.online-literature.com/she...ankenstein/15/

    Unless I very much miss the mark, the reference to "filthy type" is a dreadful inversion of the bilbical teaching that humanity was made in God's image.
    Again, Christian (or jew) religion is not the images their literature use, but the spiritual teaching. Of course the monster uses metaphors and references to texts that had references to religion.
    Frankstein itself is not. There is a difference about using or not references contained in religious texts and writing a religious text.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCamilo View Post
    Again, Christian (or jew) religion is not the images their literature use, but the spiritual teaching. Of course the monster uses metaphors and references to texts that had references to religion.
    Frankstein itself is not. There is a difference about using or not references contained in religious texts and writing a religious text.

    Okay, now I understand you. I agree that Frankenstein is not a religious text as such. I expect that we are not working with the same definition of religious. Mary Shelly explored certain themes in religious terminology. The book is "religious" only in that sense, which is the sense I was using. It does not mean that she endorsed belief in Christianity or any other faith.

    Of course this does not rule out the possibility that she made use of the religious language because she was exploring her feelings about religion. After all, you don't have to be religious to have an opinion about religion. Frankenstein may or may not be "religious" in that sense too.

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    It may be (although I consider unlikely because of Shelley influence, he was the kind of rebel and such, but since I am not sure...)
    Anyways, I would like to point also, since we agree, that in my original post I pointed only that the religious implication of Science vs. Religion (something we face now with the cloning, etc) was not part of the book and a rather later view caused by the portrait of Victor as mad scientist (we know he is not any of that) in the movies and a somehow morality that was developed in the XIX century after Mary's time.
    I suppose the theme of father-son relationships can always be seen as religious even if we do not want to.

  12. #12
    Ghost in the Machine Michael T's Avatar
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    An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?

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    I quite enjoyed the story when I was younger, but when I re read it as an adult, I found the writing itself disappointing. The plot and characters are fantastic, especially for the time in which they were written. That book was quite ahead of its time. I just don't like Shelly's writing style. I found it a bit disjointed.
    My boyfriend got a classic kid's version of the story from Barnes and Noble for his son and I read it to him a couple years back. I think its very important for all kids to read these classics.
    I haven't read it since I was 16 or 17 though. I may do so again soon.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
    An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?
    That (lack of)reponsabity lies with men, since they are the rulers until then.
    I wish Mary is that obvious, she may just not using a mother because her own problems...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Admin View Post
    I hated Frankenstein, I remember reading it in highschool and writing a scathing book review on it. My main problem was that it was obvious the author was trying to make us feel sorry for the monster, in a very contrived sort of way. I took exception to this because no matter how he was creator and how little love he received he killed many innocents. The plot was very "movie of the week."
    Many feminist criticisms would actually refute that Shelley intended the monster to be the sympathetic character.

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael T View Post
    An interesting point for literature detectives to note is that there are no mothers in this story. Noticeable by there absence...what is Mary Shelly saying?
    This has to do with what I said above. All traditional female characters are passive. But, Victor can be seen as a synthesis of male and female (really this is impossible not to do, given the maternal language Shelley uses to describe Victor's "labours"). I would say that Victor embodies exactly the type of ambiguous gender that modern feminism champions - Cixous, Moi, Kristeva, etc. seek characters which break down the (according to them) "patriarchal" and "phallocentrically" imposed gender roles. Barbara Frey Waxman's essay "Victor Frankenstein's Romantic Fate: The Tragedy of the Promethan Overreacher as Woman" talks about this.

    As for the book in general, I would say that aesthetically I don't find it spectacular, but as a literary text it is fantastic. Its complexity far surpasses many books that are far more revered than Frankenstein, and it is brimming with intertextuality which titillates English lit majors like myself. It's really a Deconstructionist's dream book - outwardly classic Romantic Gothic and inwardly revolutionary.

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