Mary Shelley – Frankenstein’s Creator by Joan Kane Nichols
This is an amazing theory book about the well-known story about Frankenstein. Very thorough and detailed, and perfect to use for ideas to your academic paper or a great brain storm on the monster myth.
I dearly recommend it for everyone who has been/or is interested and fascinated by the monster myth that is clearly seen in Frankenstein. There are many interesting details about historical and sociological circumstances in this specific time period, when Mary Shelley wrote her novel. Furthermore, there is info on Mary Shelley’s life and authorship, so it gets easier for the reader to understand which factors influenced her writing.
It also deals with the clash of religion and science which is indirectly dealt with in the novel, symbolism, metaphors and what the monster represent in the telling. I could go on.
It’s too easy to get intrigued when reading this behind-the-novel-book.
“Mary Shelley – Frankenstein’s Creator”, specifically chapter 12: ‘The Monster and His Maker’ deals with
- Mary Shelley’s own authorship, and I was fascinated by how one could see Shelley in the two different characters.
- Besides that the source covers the historical circumstances which Mary Shelley lived in, and it focuses on how science and religion began to clash, due to new scientific discoveries and constructions.
The novel may contain autobiographical features, in this case, Mary Shelley’s relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley (her later husband), who became her lover when she was only 16 years old. Due to the fact that they were not married, the citizens of her town treated her as an outcast – like the monster itself. The question now is how much of Mary Shelley has been reflected in the character of the monster? Or in the character of Victor? Like the monster Mary Shelley had lost her mother and was rejected by her father; she was self-educated and a kind person. Of course the monster’s kindness almost changes, and is at the end of the novel non-existent.
One might think that Mary Shelley could identify herself with the monster and the treatment it was exposed to. It is easy for us readers to simply interpret the character of the monster as evil, but maybe it was never Mary Shelley’s intention, when she wrote the novel? It is more likely that she believed that every human being is born as an innocent creature, but is corrupted and made evil by its surroundings and bad experiences throughout life. Maybe it’s a matter of subjectivity, but when reading the novel, my view on the monster changes. Although, he becomes more evil as the plot develops, there were several times when I stopped and wondered why I felt sorry for him and pitied him, instead of being scared. If we live vicariously through Mary Shelley’s words, it is again his surroundings’ fault and not his own fault that he turns out this way. It is a matter of nurture, rather than nature.
One could argue that this novel represent the fall of man-kind like in Milton’s “Paradise Lost”? Is there a hidden morale in this story of not acting like God, when you are only a simple man? Is this really an indirect comment on genesis and the fact that Adam and Eve could not leave the apple alone? Somehow this clash of religion and science does not seem to create a dilemma for the character, Victor. Although he sees himself as a Christian man and true believer, he does not question and regret his unethical actions when stealing bodies for the use of scientific discoveries. One might say that he sees his actions as God-inspired and that he does not feel that he breaks any Christian laws.
If you are interested in the monster myth and want to know more, this source is also relevant:
Frankenstein’s Shadow – Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-century Writing by Chris Baldick