Frankenstein 1st Edition
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"Regretting You" by Colleen Hoover
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
- Lexile measure : GN1170L
- Item Weight : 5 ounces
- Paperback : 166 pages
- ISBN-13 : 978-0486282114
- Product dimensions : 4.9 x 0.5 x 7.9 inches
- Publisher : Dover Publications; 1st edition (January 1, 1994)
- Reading level : 18 and up
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #4,569 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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There is no question of the madness, inherent in what Frankenstein did, nor is there any way to justify the lack of humility that he shows in seeking his goals. That he is driven is obvious, but the fact that he is also maddened to the point that he goes against the very laws of nature in his quest to achieve what he perceives as glory. This is the mark of a man who does not see others as equals, nor even those close to him as anything other than a means to an end.
Some might go on to claim that he is merely misguided, that he is not entirely aware of what his actions will bring, and they would not be wrong. Frankenstein is a man with a decided vision of what he wants and how to go about it. He seeks knowledge as the divine form of humanity, and in doing so comes upon an idea that seems inspired. What he does not take into account is the morality of his actions, nor the inherent consequences of disturbing a uniquely devastating and unknown force.
While the character of Frankenstein is by no means alone in the horror genre, he is perhaps one of the more unique individuals in that he does not seek to repress or change anything, but to simply create. Worse than this, his eccentricities are often seen as a normal drive to succeed and prove whatever point he is attempting to make. In other words, he appears as he is, a normal human being, not a raging homicidal maniac, nor a recluse that feels the need to hide away from others to perform his ongoing experiments. Granted he is not open to most about his nightly trips to the graveyard, unlike such figures as Dr. Moreau, Dr. Jekyll, or even Griffin, the Invisible Man. His madness runs a great deal deeper and as such is not as visible.
This is perhaps the worst kind of madness, the type that exists far enough below the surface and does not emerge until it is needed or summoned. In going forth with his experiments, Frankenstein unveiled the madness within as he went about his dark and macabre tasks, seeking the spark of divinity that helped to breathe life into inanimate flesh. That he would think of such a thing allows the reader to believe that he is in a way unhinged, to begin with, unable to discern that what he is attempting to do is seen as forbidden for a good reason. It is only upon finishing his project and eventually bringing it to life that he realizes his error, and in doing so is too late to stop the madness that has escaped to manifest itself in new flesh.
There is no mistake about it, the madness that spurred Frankenstein is transferred as though by the same current that brought life to his creature, transferring the scientist’s insanity to the beast in a manner that, like its creator, remains hidden until later. Through several renderings in film, popular literature, and even comic books and other such forms of entertainment, the legend of Frankenstein and his monster have permeated popular culture, spreading the unseen madness of the scientist to the masses in a manner that has become almost comical in many ways. Throughout the years, since its publication, Frankenstein has, in fact, become less of a presence and more of a legend, the unseen creator behind the creature that has terrorized movie screens and television programs for decades. In truth, the popularity of the monster has largely masked the madness of its creator.
It is reasonable to think that the affable nature of the monster has made it possible to look past the obvious shortcomings of its creator, thereby relegating Frankenstein, the man, to a place that is comfortably removed from the popular legend. In accepting such a role, the mad scientist could quietly slip into legend. One example has been depicted in at least one popular series written by famed author Dean Koontz. Within the pages, he writes, “Frankenstein is no less mad, no less determined to see his vision develop into reality, but has drastically changed gears in the attitudes he displays towards his creations.” In this rendering of Frankenstein, the scientist has achieved his goal, that of limited immortality, and has done so through the use of his creation.
The madness of this version of Victor Frankenstein is well-documented, as he has become more of a monster than his creation, possessed of an intellect on par with the earliest rendering of the character and an arrogance to match. Where the story diverges, however, is in the use of fantasy that is brought to bear that Shelley did not think of perhaps, or was not aware existed in her day and age. Fantasy and the human reaction to such have changed over time as the realm of fiction has been expanded and redesigned by each new author and aspiring artist. The evolution of Frankenstein and his unstable mien have no doubt been affected by this transition, but have stayed largely the same from one author to another. Yet other renditions paint Frankenstein as a tragic character that, undone by his own misguided machinations and lack of understanding concerning the acts he had committed, seeks to remedy his sins by seeking out the monster. Each new rendition of the legend goes into its own spin concerning the psychological profile of Frankenstein, but few, if any, deviate from the madness that is inherent in his actions, or in the man. This is perhaps because by the majority of society such an act would be deemed as not only wrong but the product of a diseased and deranged mind. To call the man mad would be a kindness in truth, as the adjective does not adequately explain the inherent danger of Frankenstein’s schemes.
Brilliant as the character was, he was doomed by his own intellect and bound to traverse where wiser men would not dare to tread. The mere absence of fear in the face of the unknown was not the reason why he was considered a mad scientist. When coupled with his arrogance and determination to prove wrong the laws of science and mankind, it became more than evident that Frankenstein was more than just determined; he was in his own way crazed and unbalanced. Many would call him a revolutionary, a free-thinker amidst a sea of criticism, and in part, they would be right.
The more innovative amongst mankind’s ranks are often called mad or deranged, even when their pursuits are far more innocent and not as doomed to fail. Change in any manner is often fought against with such wild abandon that many do not see their ideas reach fruition. Those like Frankenstein, however, who are so determined that they defy the very laws of existence are often those who are not only successful but subjected to the harshest and most damning criticism imaginable. At some point and time, there are those among them who are convinced to abandon their dream through use of force, the last resort that has been used even in the legend of Frankenstein.
Born of an idea that came to her after witnessing the effect of electric shocks upon the muscles of a human body, Mary Shelley began to develop a strange fascination over whether or not the applied current could possibly serve to reanimate flesh that was long since dead. Fortunately for the world, she did not become a product of her imagination, but in her simple observance, she soon gave birth to one of the most controversial and popular stories ever written. The words that would eventually come to describe the man and his monster were inspired by dreams and visions that Shelley experienced after the ordeal, a grisly tableau that painted a picture of the pale, wide-eyed doctor and the shrouded form atop the operating table. This image is what has been seen in countless renditions of the legend, and still holds true today in several modern films that have taken up the task of recreating the legend.
Despite the plight of the mad scientist, however, many versions of the story have attempted to humanize Frankenstein in such a manner that he appears more the hapless victim than a scheming madman. While he is indeed the victim of his own creation, he is still very much responsible not only for its grotesque and hated form but also the actions it eventually commits. After being rejected by its creator the creature flees and is chased from the village by a frightened mob that sees it as little more than a horrid, unclean thing. It is only when the creature learns to speak and eventually approaches its creator again that the reader gets the sense that maybe this time Frankenstein will show his worth.
The reader is thus disappointed and not entirely surprised when Frankenstein, utterly disgusted at his own failure, rejects the creature yet again and thinks only of his own reputation should he acquiesce to the creature’s request for a mate. Not wanting to be responsible for a new breed of monsters, Frankenstein refuses the request in one version, and after going through with the process in other versions, he destroys the second monster, thereby ensuring the creature’s swift and horrible vengeance. There is no thought as to what the creature will do after it has been denied so forcefully, nor whether it will bother him anew. Instead, Frankenstein, in his arrogance and delusions, considers the matter solved. Only when he begins to lose those closest to him does he truly understand his mistake.
The story of Frankenstein provides the basis for many different studies, not the least of which are analytical and behavioral in nature. A complex character in his own right, he is a quandary of sorts in that he attempts to be a good man, a loving husband, and a good friend to those who know him best, but to any and all others, he is an oddity. His arrogance and intellect often keep him well above and away from those who would otherwise seek to be his equal, and his drive towards whatever goal he desires makes him seem almost manic. In attempting to pin down the character of Frankenstein, it can almost be stated that he is the worst type of monster, which is one that appears as a man but does not think like one.
He is a visionary, yet he is a blasphemous fool. He proves that he is a genius, but his actions denote a horrid, uncaring intelligence that knows little to nothing of real compassion. His works are ground-breaking and push the limits of known science, but carry absolutely no humility nor caution. Frankenstein is the monster that hides in the background as his creation wreaks havoc, the madman who inadvertently releases his own wickedness upon the world.
While his creation was an unthinking brute, the creature eventually became an educated, free-thinking individual. Its only sin was to be born to a world that would hate and revile it, seeking its destruction more because of its differences than because of who had created it. A madman is an individual that can hide amongst the monsters and mortal beings alike. For Victor Frankenstein, there is no shortage of madness, nor is there any hiding the truth behind the genius. But not all monsters and madmen are so easy to find, as they hide behind the guise of normalcy.
It probably would surprise no one who has only seen the movie that it bears only a small resemblance to Shelley's novel.
Shelley's novel is told as a framing narrative. The story starts out recounting the correspondence between Robert Walton and his sister Margaret. Walton is traveling to the North Pole to gain scientific knowledge. While on the journey, he and his crew first spot a dog sled driven by a large man, then rescue a man who is near death. The man is Victor Frankenstein, who has been pursuing the man in the dog sled. As Walton nurses Frankenstein back to health, they become friends. Walton shares his story of intense desire for scientific knowledge. Frankenstein, seeing much of himself in Walton, recounts the story of how he arrived on Walton's boat and why Walton should think twice about his intense thirst for knowledge.
The framing narrative becomes layered as Frankenstein first recounts his story of becoming obsessed with scientific knowledge, and especially that of how to bring life to an inanimate being. He almost quite literally becomes the "mad scientist", spending all his time researching the subject and then, once he discovers the actual process to bring a creature to life, doing nothing but what it takes to make it happen. He rarely eats and sleeps, and his relationship with his family deteriorates to almost nothing. He does finally bring the Creature to life, but once he sees it he is appalled and disgusted with what he has done, and he aims to destroy it.
Next comes the Creature's story as told by the Creature itself, which takes up the bulk of the novel. Unlike Karloff's portrayal of the Creature, the novel shows the Creature learning about himself, learning about language - to the point where he becomes erudite to the point of sounding as if he had what we might call a college education - and learning how and why he is shunned by the rest of humanity. He then realizes that he is what he is because of Frankenstein (resulting in what would be a fascinating study of the nature versus nurture - or in this case, lack of nurture - discussion) and vows to deprive Victor of happiness much like Victor has deprived him of happiness. Eventually the narrative returns to Frankenstein's story and eventually Walton's, culminating with Walton meeting the Creature itself.
It was somewhat surprising to me how short the novel actually is. As readers we have been trained to expect complex stories like this to be at least double the length. And while there is much detail that could be discussed - and I refuse to be concerned about spoiling a story that is over 200 years old at this point - I will stop here and let those who have yet to read the novel go ahead and do so without giving it all away.
I was pleasantly surprised by FRANKENSTEIN. I guess I've been conditioned by the movie, which I've seen several times, to expect one thing while the novel turned out to be entirely something else. While the name Frankenstein usually is used to refer to the Creature, it's pretty clear that the real villain of the novel is Victor himself. His hubris in creating life from where there is none - and at the time FRANKENSTEIN was written the implication was that Victor was stepping where only God was meant to tread - resulted in a Creature who quite understandably was ticked off at his situation and who also quite understandably blamed the only person he knew to be responsible for his plight. The Creature was shown to be a compassionate being, and one who gave Frankenstein every opportunity to shut down the violence and death that was occurring around him. Yet,
Victor chose to let it continue, and indeed brought so much suffering upon himself by his actions the reader might be tempted to believe that he is the Wretch (as the Creature is sometimes called) and not the Creature itself.
Jim Donaldson provided an adequate narration of the novel. As I listened to the book, I felt that his voice and tone were perfect for the gothic nature of the story. His gravelly-voiced rendition of the Creature could not have been easy for him to do; at the same time, I was taken out of the story by his portrayal of the Creature. He sounded like a crotchety old man, which does not fit with my image of the Creature. That could be due to me being influenced by Karloff's rendition of the Creature, although his gutteral roars do sound like an old man too, I suppose.
If you've never read the book, I suggest you do so. It's interesting to contrast the novel and the movie, and of course that's something we do with today's movies anyway - from Lord of the Rings to Hunger Games to anything else. I can see why this is considered a classic, and it's well worth the time for you to read it for yourself and, hopefully, come to the same conclusion.
Top reviews from other countries
An intelligent and ambitious young student indulges a moment of thoughtless scientific passion and creates life. Horrified at his creation, Victor Frankenstein shuns the creature and attempts to discard it from his life and thoughts. The creature, however, is lost in an unkind world and seeks affection, and upon rejection then seeks revenge.
STUDENT NOTES (5/5)
+ Although many reviewers note The York Notes version usefulness at GCSE, I found in instrumental at helping me receive an A* at A-Level as well:
a) The (character, theme and quotation) analysis is brilliant, clear and precise.
b) The exam questions, key quotations and chapter summaries were invaluable
c) The responses to the text, both modern and those from Shelley's contemporaries are invaluable (especially the feminist and psychoanalytical essays).
+ Both main characters are easy to empathise with despite being completely at heads – both Victor (the ambitious scientist who realises his overreach and attempts to redeem himself) and the monster (whose fragile psyche is birthed from rejection)
+ The original, but nevertheless still one of the most remarkable science fiction stories ever written, its relevance persists today as scientific discovery journeys further than before into ethical ambiguity (GM food, AI, cloning) and discrimination still exists in all its forms.
+ Typically Romantic and beautifully descriptive prose, particularly regarding the natural world.
- The book begins very slowly with excessive detail, and the epistolary form makes it hard to convey any sense of suspense. But if you persist despite this you will be drawn in to Shelley's world.
So for the first time we can read this class novel as Mary originally intended. It's somewhat shorter, and faster paced than the finished book, as was published in 1818. In fact, Percy revised the draft quite considerably - crossing out many words, altering sentence structure, and adding some 5,000 words to the manuscript. Here we can plainly see the differences between the early manuscript and the final publication.
The editor of this volume, Charles Robinson, provides a 20 page introduction, exploring the differences between the two versions.
This book is nicely presented, on good quality paper. If you're interested in the development of the Frankenstein novel, you'll appreciate this book.