Response to Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

My adventure with Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein started when I received a copy of the riveting graphic novel from my mother. I then read the classic book to follow up on that, which wasn’t as riveting in nature but still an amazing book that delves into very important themes.

If you don’t already know, this novel follows the story of the scientist Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein becomes very interested in the natural world and how everything works and eventually aspires to create a humanoid creature out of body parts from the deceased. In a rush of sadly blind excitement, Victor finishes the monster only to be repulsed by his atrocious appearance. The innocent monster then departs and comes to live on the outskirts of civilization, gradually learning the ways, language and culture of these beings called humans. After a few fearful run ins with people, the monster settles in hiding near a rural family. The monster then begins to befriend a blind grandfather of that family, only to be banished for the final time by the grandfather’s relatives. After that, the monster goes on a streak of killings with the goal of acquiring revenge upon his creator, Victor. The novel ends in ambiguity, with Victor and his monster both dying.

Upon finishing Frankenstein, I have to say that the story portrays the fall of man pretty well. It looks like Victor's creation of the monster parallels Adam’s acquisition of the fruit of knowledge. Just like Adam’s banishment from Eden into a land that is full of suffering and pain, once Frankenstein has created his monster, he definitely enters into a land full of pain and suffering – one which he had only hoped to escape through death.

The story’s alternate name; The Modern Prometheus is also very important because of Frankenstein’s archetypal nature. In a lot of the Greek myths, Prometheus was a man who stole hidden fire from Zeus and returned it to earth. Zeus then chained him to a rock, where an eagle fed on his continually replenishing liver. To be a Promethean is to focus your whole life on projects which you yourself have determined are worthwhile. The means of fulfilling the various projects include a blind ignorance to the surroundings and a general sense of destruction. Victor Frankenstein is definitely a Promethean, who from the beginning of the story to the end spends his time trying to steal fire from the gods and paying the consequences for that. Because of this, a lot of the story painfully shows Victor in the metaphorical state of being chained to a rock with his liver being eternally eaten out, while he is continually in pursuit of his monster. The reason I say that Victor’s liver is being constantly eaten is because of the incredible amount of suffering he experiences for his act of creating life where life shouldn’t have been created. The story of Frankenstein very well shows that when we get obsessed with our projects, people, things, the world and ultimately God’s intentions for us get really screwed around with.

If you look at the life of Mary Shelley when she wrote this book it’s pretty hard not to let your jaw drop. It’s pretty amazing that she wrote such an archetypal and spot-on book with such little life experience and before she was 18! And the fact that she wrote it merely for a story contest shows the spontaneity of it! It seems sort of like God was using her to write such an amazing story to tell us humans what we can become.

Overall, I’m glad that I read Frankenstein. I’m pretty sure I have a lot to learn from it and in coming years will come to identify more with Victor and his monster as I come to see life more through the paradigm the book presents. I hope to read it again sometime, and recommend you too read it!


Blogger Marilyn Heidebrecht said...

Sounds great, Joel. It sounds like this human classic really sunk in.


11:16 AM  

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