Aim high, but aim right. This is the lesson I have learned while reading Frankenstein.
I guess everybody knows Frankenstein. Even if you don’t know the story, you definitely have heard about it.
It was written at the beginning of the 18th century in 1818, by Marry Shelly. It was one of the few Sci Fi operas written at that time. In fact, the author is considered to be the precursor of the modern Sci Fi writings.
The origin of the name of Frankenstein is unknown, but there are theories that it’s coming from German and it means something like Francophone stone. The name of the character might be a wordplay. Francophone might send to the fact that Frankenstein was from Geneva, which belonged to France until 1814. On the other side, the referral to the stone might reflect his character. He has a powerful spirit, and, even if he crosses his heart, he is prone to do the right thing.
As I said before, Frankenstein was a young man from Geneva, who had an ordinary life. He was living with his mother and father, his two brothers and two cousins, Elisabeth and Judith. They seamed to have a happy life, which is suddenly disrupted by dramatic events. His mother dies from a serious illness, after which he decides to leave Geneva for studying. He soon became interested in chemistry and galvanism and at some point he realized that he can do something great. He can give life in a soulless body. And this is where the nightmare begins.
After giving life to a human being, he came to his senses to find that he had created a monster. A man so ugly, almost two times taller than him, that was pretty hard to look at and and even harder to tolerate. He left his home in an instant, and when he got back, the creature wasn’t there any more.
Frankenstein has come to the conclusion that that was it, that the story ends here. But he seems to be very wrong. The creature is angry and prone to revenge, and it will search all possible matters to gain his place into the world. But will Frankenstein be able to get out of this situation?
What caught my attention reading this book was the language. It is a one specific to the 18th century, with archaic words. I can see how feelings were important at time time. In a society based on prejudice, people were often fleeing from their world into their feelings. They were always seeking the love, the happiness, and if they couldn’t find it, they would make it.
About the characters, there are no so many to count. There is Frankenstein and his family, some friends, and a few other people. Also, they are not so complex. Beside Frankenstein and the creature, the other characters are not so well outlined. Each one is described according to his importance in the plot.
Unlike other books, characters are defined through what they say. Victor Frankenstein is the narrator, and through his eyes we can see their world. There are some other dialogues here and there from which we can catch a glimpse into other’s opinion, but still Victor is the one who can introduce us to them better.
By his judgment and his actions, Frankenstein proves to be a good man, with a strong sense of justice, passionate and loving. For him, family means everything, and losing it would be the greatest nightmare for him. He committed the greatest mistake of his life, but he refuses to commit an even greater one by creating a second monster.
The creature on the other side, has feelings of love and justice while he has everything he needs but, once he starts to feel shortages, he completely transforms into a soulless monster who doesn’t care about anything but himself, and is guided by selfishness and hate.
I find the two characters somehow antagonistic. Frankenstein is young, beautiful, smart, has everything he needs: a loving family, a place to live, a position into the society. He is brave, loving, with a strong character and persevering. On the other side, the creature has nothing: no family, no home, no physical appearance, and is rejected by any human being. He is sort of a coward who thinks only of himself and who doesn’t have the bit of compassion for someone else.
Now, as I see it, he had some reasons for doing all the atrocities that he has done, although I cannot find this as an excuse. What I am trying to say is that I cannot offer all the credits to Frankenstein and demonize the creature, because we can never know how would Frankenstein have reacted if he would have been in the other’s shoes. Although the creature was a monster, he was still a human being with a lot of weaknesses and with no moral eduction. He educated himself and transformed into what society had shown to him.
As reading this book, we can observe how the human is a social person. We are born to interact with some other of our kind and we cannot live without it. We can see how loneliness demonizes us and makes us take decisions we never would have wanted tot take or even thought we would. And even though we are strong, we cannot be strong forever. Everyone has it’s own limit and when that is reached, we burst into a river of bitterness that makes us animals.
Each and every single human has an emotional wound that makes him vulnerable in some ways.
Now the question is: what is our limit?
Photo source: Smithsonian magazine