Everyone knows who Frankenstein is, or rather, everyone knows who Frankenstein’s monster is: that degenerate, hideous, brute made from the rotting parts of untold festering corpses. An unholy fiend who revels in bloodshed and murder; except, of course, that this is not who he is actually is. Among the many perversions which infect the original source’s inspiration during any pop culture bastardization, the creature which Victor Frankenstein created was a tragically misunderstood life form which only longed for a companion.
The story of Frankenstein is told as horror but more aptly it should be seen as an Existentialist tale rooted in an idealized materialism, replete with scientific advancement and the quandaries of morality. It tells of the aforementioned Victor Frankenstein, a rustic youth living in Geneva who dreams of bettering his scientific education by means of attending university. Bright and innocent, the boy is sent off to learn and promptly works himself to the bone in effacing from his mental disposition the ignorant obscenities of the past, which have since become obsolete within the intellectual establishment.
Finally obtaining a high level of knowledge is a scant amount of time, Victor sets his sights on something higher: to bring the dead back to life. Spending far too much time in the graveyard to be considered normal, Victory finally obtains the secret to life. He resolves to restore a corpse to life. His many months of labor coalesce in what will simply be known as the fiend, the monster, the creature. His creation.
However, upon bring the misshapen dead back to the realm of the living, Victor is horrified. He flees the scene, hoping to escape and never lay eyes on the monster again. Some months he evades the creature, thinking him gone. However, one day, upon receiving a letter informing him of the death of a younger brother of his, Victor returns to his country home; hearing that the death of his brother was strangulation, he does not doubt for a moment that the murderer was the monster which had been created by his hand.
Victor peruses the monster to a mountain where a surreal encounter takes place whereupon the creature recounts his frightful experiences with the cruelties of humanity. By the end of the creature’s tale a request is made of Victor: build the monster a bride so he may inhabit the world in peace with another who shares his loneliness. Though at first Victor acquiesces to the monster’s plea, going so far as to travel to England so as to acquire the necessary materials for the second creature, at the last moment he has a change of heart: thinking that the monster to be of ill-intent, of wanting to breed an army to terrorize humanity, Victor destroys the inanimate zombie. Naturally, this enrages the original creation and through furious means, a series of deaths is inflicted on Victor by the monster, effectively highlighting the inability of language, morality, sexuality and a million other possibilities. Through these murders Victor swears revenge on the creature and begins to hunt the beast to the ends of the earth.
The tale is one of such multiplicity that to simply call it a story of morality, science and religion, industrial development, or any single topic, would be to due injustice to the text. Rich, dense yet accessible, and filled to the brim with colorful language and deep questions of life and living, Shelley’s masterpiece is a testament to the creative powers of humanity at a crucial juncture in history. Yet above everything, it is a cornerstone of the dejected consciousness, of the dilemma facing all people- is what I am doing right?