11.12.2010

Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is dooooooooone! I so dislike this book, despite how hard I tried to like it, because, after all, it’s early classic sci-fi/horror. I will express this in list form, ’cause I like lists.

1) Victor Frankenstein is a weenie. He makes a monster, then runs away from it and ignores it for a whole year. For this delightful display of cowardice, he will be hereafter known as Frankie.

2) Frankie is a whiny bemoaner of a fate he flippin’ created and about which he does nothing to correct, mostly ’cause he’s too busy bemoaning instead of blaming himself.

3) Frankie is also a Mary Sue. (Before Mary Sue’s were invented, which makes this sorta impressive.) I base this mostly on the fact that everyone talks about how wonderful, intelligent, generous, loving, clever, bloody noble and full of deep sensitivities he is and all I see is, well, see point numero uno y dos. Oh, and the boy is stupid…see next point and the next.

4) Frankie Sue gave a monster working sexual organs, but can’t figure out that if he doesn’t want ‘the unholy pair’ to mate and make monster babies all he has to do is make the female monster sterile. Really. (Actually, I’m assuming that he gave him working sexual organs based on what he said, but I still find the whole thing rather hard to believe.)

5) Despite his vaunted cleverness, Frankie Sue is also incapable deciphering the fact that the monster isn’t threatening his life, but his happiness with the line about being with him on his wedding night. If you could throw shoes at book characters, I would have thrown mine at Frankie Sue for the stupidity preceding his wedding and the subsequent murder of poor Elizabeth.

6) His monster inspires more sympathy and warmth of feeling than he does. At least, the monster has actual injuries to resent and ignorance to fuel his poor, ill-informed choices. (I’ve been told that this is the point. If it was, it could have been more explicitly rendered.)

7) Oh, and Mary, why does the monster find a large cloak out in the middle of the uninhabited woods?! Does this even make sense? Or, how about the time he mysteriously finds Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives and the Sorrows of Werther in FRENCH when he lives in a GERMANIC STATE while he’s stalking a FRENCH family. Isn’t that just too convenient?

Yes, I know that I’ve lost all perspective on the book in my hate, so I will admit here that my point number 4 seems less valid in the light of something that Dr Dyke pointed out to me. He reminded me that Mary Shelley’s mother was Mary Wollenstonecraft and the monster could be construed as a symbol of the new Industrial Age and Science stealing and subverting the natural ability of women, birth. I’m embarrassed to say that I missed this considering how much evidence for this idea can be found in the very descriptions that Mary gives of the monster and the moment of his awakening, which closely mirror the birth of a baby.

Being peculiarly interested in gender roles, this strikes me as something important. So what if the whole thing isn’t about factories and God-complexes, but is about something far closer to home? Does it have more value as feminist literature than the typical horror accolades it receives?

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