My rating: 4 stars
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a well-known book which has been adapted to film quite a few times. I have never watched any of the adaptations in their entirety, though. So, I was a bit unsure about what to expect from this book. Was it going to be a horror story, science fiction or neither? In fact, it has elements of both, but surprisingly it has more to offer than that. It is a good reflection on how a creator deals with the destructive actions of a creation that doesn’t fit his preconceived ideas of greatness.
The book begins with a couple of letters written by Robert Walton to his sister. He is aboard a ship heading to the North Pole, following his dream of experiencing a discovery voyage, when he rescues a man – Victor Frankenstein. We are then told Frankenstein’s story in the first person. Robert was the one writing it, though he did so in the same way as he had been told by Victor, hence the use of a first-person narrator and the instances of Victor addressing Robert.
Victor Frankenstein has had, since a young age, the desire to figure out the secrets of nature. He saw science as a way to achieve greatness and power. While at university, he managed to animate lifeless matter and then became convinced that in the future he would be able to bring people back to life. However, the creature born of his experiment wasn’t what he had expected.
The creature, who is referred to in different ways, including “daemon”, faced some difficult situations. We get to know part of the story from his point of view, which is helpful to understand how it feels like to be abhorred and how that can change someone. What he had to face made me pity him to the point of disliking Frankenstein, who throughout the novel showed regret for what he had done. But the extreme actions of the creature are also inexcusable regardless of what he had to endure. By the end of the story I was kind of unsure about how to feel, taking into consideration both of their actions.
I was pleasantly surprised at the political and social considerations, as well as the philosophical observations, made throughout the novel. Some are even still quite current, such as discrimination and economic inequality. Other great feature of the book is how nature and weather descriptions in some occasions seem to fit the darkness of the revelations of the story.
On the other hand, I wanted to know more concerning the science behind the creation of the creature. Although a reason is mentioned close to the end for such an explanation not being given, I felt that the book needed a bit more focus and detail on that part to make the reader more aware of the extremes Victor Frankenstein went to.
Frankenstein is not a particularly scary novel, but it offers great insights into the dangers of taking ambition too far and the transformation someone goes through when despised by others.