Monday, January 10, 2011

100 Books Every Woman Should Read - Frankenstein****

"In an era of genetic experiments, stem cell research and cloning we need a reminder to examine the moral issues surrounding science. Mary Shelley, the daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft and the wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley, wrote a fascinating novel that can do just that."

This book is fantastic! I was afraid I would hate it cuz I'm really not into the whole scary story thing. But you know what I've discovered? I don't dislike horror novels. But here's the thing: I dislike modern horror. In modern horror the sole purpose of the book or movie is to scare your pants off. So the entire "story," if it can be called that, is merely one grotesque scene after another with little or no plot to connect them. Classic horror, like Frankenstein, on the other hand is a story that happens to be horrific. However, it is horror with a point not just a grouping together of terrifying scenes. And the main point of this book, I would say, is that we wreak our own havoc by our sins. Though Mary Shelley never actually mentions God or religion in this book it is chock full of theological gold. And this book can be analyzed from so many different angles. For example: the monster as an allegory for sin.
When reading this book it is important to read the prologue in order to properly understand the story. It is also important to realize that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist who creates the monster, not the name of the monster itself which is never given a name but only called such things as "the monster" and "the creature."

One of the most horrifying parts of the book is when Frankenstein is creating the monster. This intelligent young man withdraws from society, abandons friends and family, and closes in on himself, focused only on his creation. He haunts cemeteries and morgues to find parts for his creature, abandoning the society of all but the dead. Things which had formerly held pleasure for him are overlooked. He can no longer see the beauty in the nature which he had formerly adored. And it is not until he looks his creature in the eye that he realizes what he has done. He is only cured of his sickness of the mind by suffering through physical illness which he attests to when he says: "I felt also sentiments of joy and affection revive in my bosom, my gloom disappeared and in a short time I became as cheerful as before I was attacked by the fatal passion." But even this cannot undo what he has done and he is haunted for the rest of his life by his monster.
Some great quotes:

  • "how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow."
  • "If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind."
  • "I collected bones from charnel houses and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame. In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation. My eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The dissecting room and the slaughterhouse furnished many of my materials and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, while still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased."
  • "How dare you sport thus with life?"
  • "Come, Victor, not brooding thoughts of vengeance against the assassin, but with feelings of peace and gentleness, that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our minds."
  • "You are my creator, but I am your master. Obey!"
  • "Seek happiness in tranquility and avoid ambition, even if it be only the apparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in science and discoveries."
  • "I was the slave, not the master, of an impulse which I detested yet could not disobey."

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