Thursday, May 13, 2010

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

I listened to this on my iPod as an audiobook so I'm not sure if my impression would be the same as if I had read it. But nonetheless it was a thought-provoking story that raises many issues from science and ethics to friendship, responsibility and prejudice.

Dr. Frankenstein is in need of a friend so he endeavors to 'make' one by way of salvaged random body parts, his chemistry set, electricity, some late nights tinkering in his lab and voila! a friend. But it doesn't take long for the doctor to realize that he has created a monster over which he has no control, for a goodly amount of unexplained chaos, confusion and murder ensue in the streets following the monster's escape from the lab. No one knows who's disturbing the peace but Dr. Frankenstein has a secret hunch . . .

From here on out the perspectives alternate between the doctor and the monster: the doctor in a tormented what-have-I-done sort of way, and the monster in a who-the-hell-am-I sort of way.

The monster realizes early on that he is different and frightening to the people around him and that he must hide. While in hiding he spies on a small cottage and learns about life and relationships by watching a family as they go about their day.

"Other lessons were impressed on me even more deeply. I heard of the difference of sexes; and the birth and growth of children; how the father doated on the smiles of the infant, and the lively sallies of the older child; how all the life and cares of the mother were wrapped up in the precious charge; how the mind of youth expanded and gained knowledge; of brother, sister, and all the various relationships which bind one human being to another in mutual bonds"

"But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. From my earliest remembrance I had been as I then was in height and proportion. I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans." pg 121

I loved how this part of the story says so much about us, how we live and our need to belong. It also makes the monster's predicament all that more poignant: He is truly alone in the world and he knows what he is missing. He does make one more attempt at connection when he approaches the cottage to reveal himself as a man in need but again he is met with horror and revulsion and is forced to flee.

There is suspense right to the finish but ultimately a very sad ending.


Alyce said...

This is one of those classics that I just haven't gotten around to reading yet. My husband loves it though, so I should probably read it someday. :)

trish said...

There is so much more philosophy to this book than actual horror. It's a weekend read that left me thinking for a long time after I was done. But I'm also glad I read it as an adult; I don't think I would have 'gotten' it if I had read it in my teens or early twenties. Sometimes it's good to wait ;)

Beth said...

Being different and set apart – to the extreme. Such a sad story.
Have yet to try an audiobook. Something to consider.

trish said...

Although I am not completely sold on the audiobook (sometimes the narrators voice gets on my nerves) it is a great way to 'read' while walking or driving.

Two birds, one stone and all that.