Frankenstein by Mary Shelley fulfilled the
category “Book Written
by an author in their 20s” for the PopSugar 2020 Reading Challenge. Yes, I’m
aware Ms. Shelley wrote the novel at nineteen, and it was published when she
was twenty. That’s close enough for government work.
It took me thirty years to read the tale. I’m a literature fan. My
English degree is composed of mostly studies of American Authors and Brit
classics. I read Pride and Prejudice for three separate classes, most of
Shakespeare’s plays, and a giant (but not complete) pile of Mark Twain. But
never Frankenstein. I spent one fall planning to read all the monster
books—Dracula, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein,
and The Island of Doctor Moreau. Three out of four that autumn. And finally,
this year, the last.
Welp, so not what I thought it was going to be.
Nothing like all the hype—giant green monsters and abject terror. There
certainly was the subject of humanity—what it is, what it means, and how we
express it. (More on that later.) But I felt like Hollywood sold me a rotten
bill of goods. The book was a long lament of Dr. Frankenstein’s life. A rolling journey
through his failures and attempt to escape responsibility. Not much on the
monster, not when he creates it and not when he runs. I was kinda confused. I’m
not saying it isn’t good. It just wasn’t the story I expected.
English teacher section—themes. Ah, the humanity.
Basically the entire premise of the story. Dr. Frankenstein has none, and the
monster doesn’t have much either. The novel raises the question of what makes
us human. Are we responsible for the actions of our children? When we have
children, are we responsible for teaching and raising them? Showing them right
from wrong? (The answer is yes to all three if you ask me, but as my teens get
older…Maybe not on the
first. LOL) Is Frankenstein’s abandonment of the monster, his life’s work a
crime or a tragedy? And to who? I’d like you to send back a three-paragraph
essay answering one of these…oh wait, blog, not classroom.
Frankenstein’s monster is iconic in our society. It’s reused over and
over in a multitude of ways—from Young Frankenstein to The Bride
to The Munsters to Hotel Transylvania. The monster has been
vilified, lampooned, and had a pot of empathy poured over him. The Bride
from 1985 is one of the few adaptations I’ve seen that’s beholden to the
Why bring this up? I’m glad you ask.
Adaptation—Authors scramble to get movie and TV
rights sold for their books, but very few reworkings are good representations
of the original story. There is the idea that no movie is as good as the book.
(My list only has three—Practical Magic, Fight Club, and The
Umbrella Academy. I promise not to go down that rabbit hole, but I’ve got season three of UA
almost fanficed…anyway…) My husband says it depends if you read or watch first.
And yes, I watched all of those first. I refuse to say he’s right…
all know a movie or TV show can’t do what a book does. But what happens when
the film versions completely distort the original? Subplots get dropped,
characters are merged. Sometimes, authors have their names removed because the
movie is nothing like the source material (e.g. Lawnmower Man, Mr.
King.) Granted, this is a two-hundred-year-old tale. But look at what we’ve
done with the concept of the “created man.” Food for thought…
I give Frankenstein
by Mary Shelley Four Homunculi because I wanted more monster.