Frankenstein — the novel I never thought I would enjoy, yet one I found so inspirational and moving. Here are my thoughts on the story, as well as the characters, as well as everything spoken about during Socratic seminars and discussions.
FRANKENSTEIN: NOVEL COMPARED TO MODERN INTERPRETATION
My understanding of the story was drastically contrary to what the novel truly was. Growing up, my experience with Frankenstein was cartoon interpretations, terrible film spin-offs of the original idea, and other things of that nature. As I started reading the novel, I was slightly confused, as the story did not seem to follow what my premeditated expectations were. The first few chapters detailing Victor’s life were odd to me, as I was fettered by my childhood ideas of what to expect. Reading along, however, I began to understand the scope of what the real story truly encompassed in regards to depth and character development; it was no horror story about a mad scientist creating a thoughtless monster with a lightning flash.
I believe that the common misconception that Frankenstein is the name given to the monster is an example of our society’s mutilation of the source material — not to be dramatic, or anything. I, like most people, was ignorant of the truth behind the monster, his creator, and his family. Upon discovering it, however, I realized how deeply this character of Victor Frankenstein, as well as that of his monster, truly delved into the human condition.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
I interpreted the novel as something at first, then after discussion, I saw it as something different. Whenever I read anything, I look at the face value primarily, searching for character development, whether or not it captures my attention — which is quite sporadic, by the way — and various other things. Pondering the material later, even talking about it, helps me dissect it further, which often reveals a different understanding. This may seem commonplace, and it is, but it is important to gain a full mastery over a text.
Frankenstein, in my opinion, is close to mastery for me — this in regards to my possession of a good selection of lenses with which to analyze it. The story itself is much more complex than many people realize; it is not as much a horror story as it is a study of human psychology — which is what I read it as. I got no horror from this tale, though in full honesty, my horror tolerance is quite high. Not to say that the story was not suspenseful — it was the first piece in a long time that actually managed to surprise me. Delving into the more intricate aspects of the tale revealed the horror of it; the concept itself, as well as the isolation, were the bits of terror. My rampant imagination also made it easier to picture the monster — which is much closer in resemblance to the featured image of this post than what Hollywood has painted it as, in my opinion. Horror also comes from imagining the psychological state that Victor finds himself in; his mind is truly a monster itself, I found, much more frightening than his creation.
In summary, I think Frankenstein is a tale about what it means to be human. The perfect may be monsters inside, while the grotesque may hold within the real humanity.
Whether looked at under a feminist, Marxist, psychological, or religious lens, Frankenstein bears an overarching concept that transcends all of the interpretations. It is a commentary on what it means to be human, as said before, perhaps as an outpouring from Mary Shelley, who felt inhuman in a society where men were believed to be superior. Victor’s insanity is a study in human psychology, and his internal grief and turmoil is a look at what monsters lie within all of us.