EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up Book Club discussion

This topic is about Frankenstein

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Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
Opening discussions for the group's October 2016 Classics pick: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Very appropriate for Halloween indeed!

This discussion is FULL OF SPOILERS. If you haven't read the book and don't want to ruin it, head on to spoiler-free discussion HERE .

Happy reading!!

Sarah | 729 comments Did any of you sympathize with Victor at any point in the book?

Sarah | 729 comments The teacher in my loved this line from the book!

"We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule our lot according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of all the many delights which we enjoyed."

Celeste (celeste57) | 8 comments I really loved this book. I pitied Victor, but his tragedies were of his own making. The Creature may have been the murderer, but he was never shown kindness, not even by his creator. So he had my sympathy, not Victor.

Sarah | 729 comments I'm with you Celeste, the monster had my pity. Victor was a coward and worried about how he would come off by telling the truth instead of standing up to what he had done and trying to make it right. He caused so much pain and suffering and brought it all upon himself, while his poor creation suffered. Nature vs. nurture! My favorite part of the book was the monster's story.

Do any of y'all watch Penny Dreadful on Netflix? Someone just happened to recommend it to me right after I had finished this book, and Victor Frankenstein is one of the main characters! Cool spin on the story, pretty gory stuff though so beware! Dorian Gray is a main character in it as well, I need to read that book!

Celeste (celeste57) | 8 comments If you decide to watch Penny Dreadful, tell me what you think of the Creature. In my opinion, he's the closest version to Shelley's Monster to ever grace the screen!

Sarah | 729 comments Celeste, I agree! Very pleased with their portrayal of the monster! The whole time I was reading this book I was wondering why nobody has made a more realistic version of him that more closely matches the book.

Celeste (celeste57) | 8 comments For anyone interested, here is my review:

How have I never read Frankenstein before? I’ve watched multiple film versions. I read the Great Illustrated Classic version as a child, huddled beneath blankets with a flashlight so my parents wouldn’t know how late I was staying up. But I somehow managed to never read Mary Shelley’s original tale until this week. And I was missing out. I know that some people think the novel was poorly written, but I have to disagree. I think that Shelley wrote beautifully, with the type of heart and dramatic flair that we all have but most of us lose as we enter our third decade.

Is there any figure in literature more tragic than Frankenstein’s Monster? Yes, Victor himself was tragic. He was a good man whose arrogance led him to create his own downfall. The works of his own hands led to the senseless deaths of everyone he held dear. Shelley rightly subtitled her work “The Modern Prometheus.” Prometheus deigned to gift unto man knowledge that the gods believed should belong to the gods alone, and was sentenced to a miserable eternity. Victor gained knowledge that belonged to God and God alone, and he applied that knowledge heedless of the dangers. And he could not even blame God for what happened next, because God hadn’t created his nemesis; he himself had.

Victor is to be pitied. But his nameless Creature is the story’s main recipient of my sympathy. His creator abandoned him in horror the moment he drew his first breath. He was left alone, unloved, uneducated, defenseless. Left to his own devices, he stumbled alone from the laboratory that served as his nursery, hungry and confused and afraid. Every human that saw him feared him and sought his death. He was never shown an ounce of kindness. The Creature witnessed love in the family who occupied the cabin in the woods, and yearned to be the recipient of such love. He did the family every small kindness within his power, hoping for acceptance. But the instant he made himself known, he was cast out once more.

By the time he met his creator once more, the Creature had blood on his hands. He had committed two heinous crimes, one to cover the other. He was deserving of Victor’s hatred. But I believe that he was also deserving of Victor’s help. We’ve all sinned gravely against our creator, but He is faithful to forgive. Victor was not. There was no love in his heart for his creation. Yet, even if he couldn’t love the Monster, he could have made for him a Mate. The request was fair. But his fear led him to irreparably damage what little faith was left within his Creature, leading to the further murders of Victor’s loved ones.

Everyone is responsible for their own actions. The murders committed at the hands of the Creature cannot be blamed on his creator. But the Creature’s terrifying appearance was the fault of Victor. Had he been made differently, love might not have been so far out of his reach, and murder might not have entered his heart. Both man and Monster were wrong. Both man and Monster are to be pitied.

This was a wonderful book. I highly recommend it. It made me think and it made me feel, and I’m very glad to have read it. Frankenstein was a tragic tale beautifully told, and I will be reading it again.

Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
Great review, Celeste!

I was torn I couldn't decide who should get pity and who shouldn't. I kind of don't like either the Creature or Victor - neither really took responsibility for their actions, both blamed other things/people/society. Seems like copping out.

Celeste (celeste57) | 8 comments Kaseadillla wrote: "Great review, Celeste!

I was torn I couldn't decide who should get pity and who shouldn't. I kind of don't like either the Creature or Victor - neither really took responsibility for their actions..."

Thank you! I can see where you get that. But I can't help put pity the Creature. Yes, he should have taken responsibility for his actions, and he did in the end. But I can't imagine waking up for the first time, fully grown physically but completely unformed mentally, completely alone and hated by everyone he meets. It would be hard not to give in to rage.

message 11: by Lena (new) - rated it 3 stars

Lena (nlgmcr69) | 81 comments Sarah wrote: "Did any of you sympathize with Victor at any point in the book?"

I felt bad that he lost everyone he loved, BUT I also felt he not only created the monster (thus creating the issue to begin with) but he also several times escalated the situation in my opinion.

message 12: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Oct 17, 2016 06:34PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments Regarding the plot: many people put the cart before the horse.

The horse was actually a friendly amiable creature, seeking petting and warmth and sugar, but it is a physically ugly swaybacked splayfooted dirty thing to see. So, because people hate to look at the friendly nice horse, a brutally heavy cart and its load of pain, rejection and poison is unexpectedly and cruelly harnessed to the innocent horse, accompanied with gleeful sadistic whipping and blows. The horse got mad and decided to murder people back, kicking and biting. The horse, now ugly in spirit as well as looks, is deemed useless lowlife scum, deserving of even more abuse now that he has been spoiled completely by unending abuse in the first place..

All the people then ask why the horse did not choose to be brave and noble and self-sacrificing and just die? Where was its better nature? Why did the horse not see the rationality of killing himself or allowing people to throw rocks at him until he was dead? Did not the horse know he was too physically ugly for people to look at? Can't he see he should just die? Obviously the horse did not understand he has no value to the public good, no matter his nature, good as it was originally. Instead, the horse becomes an assassin! Where did he learn that?

Bad horse!

Also: What were the monster's alternatives, given the parameters of the story?


Nobly living alone for the rest of his life in a cave eating scraps, watching people love and enjoy their families from afar?

Allowing people to shoot or beat him to death on sight for the relief of the community in scapegoating?

Did anyone else think of the movie, 'Edward Scissorhands'?

I don't know, actually, philosophically, how far to take this morality play. What about pit bulls, tortured into being killers of people, who we then have to kill because they did what they were trained to do?

Then there is the logic people also indulge in as a peculiar proof of goodness: if the woman drowns during a dunking, she must have been a good person. At least Justine was convicted with a bit of community rationality.

Celeste (celeste57) | 8 comments April, I completely agree with you about the Creature's degrading treatment being the root of his actions. The pitbull comparison is spot on. Yes, he committed the murders, but the cruelty of people drove him to it.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments I think the book examines the different ways people flounder about morally when it comes to defining evil and justice, and it is looking at contributory factors and consequences, especially if the accused is gorgeous or rich or female or male or ugly or uneducated or lower-class or upper-class. We also have difficulty being fair and equitable in apportioning out blame, even in reading the book, judging by the some GR reviews.

Acting like a devil's advocate (hehe):

Victor is arrested and judged by a town to be the killer of Henry, and he is mistreated to a small degree. However, I think his class and appearance protected him from the worst that townspeople could have done to him. He is not physically abused, in fact, a disgruntled nurse looks after him, trying to heal him from his fever. His wealthy tidy appearance caused people to give him gentle treatment, even though they thought they 'knew' him for a murderer.

Before the monster turned killer, when he still was innocent, his appearance caused townspeople to try to kill him immediately. Even the more upperclass and emotionally noble delicate family of De Lacey wanted to kill the monster on sight, without any cause.

Justine is a servant, so the necklace in her pocket condemns her, despite her noble delicacy and looks. She is threatened with going to hell if she doesn't lie, so she would rather die than have the priest send her to hell. The priest goes away with a clear conscience. Justine is killed by the monstrous injustice of her religious faith, her confessor and the townspeople, not the monster.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments Then there are the long long long sequences describing the beauty of real honest true 'Nature'. Why? To contrast that with the 'nature' man created by Victor, obviously. The monster IS all-natural, after all!

Aaron | 1 comments I sympathised with Victor and to a lesser degree towards the monster. The reason for this is because I don't believe Victor's purpose when bringing the monster to life originates from a vice but from his own passion. Victor's biggest mistakes and faults were simply ignorance or stupidity which I do not blame him because they do not come from ill intentions.

On the other hand, the monster although originally having a kind soul acted in anger and sought revenge in the most cruel and violent ways, hurting innocent people who have done no harm to him. I think it's easy to give reason to the monster's course of action throughout the book, however I do not believe this makes his actions acceptable. Hence I could not feel much sympathy towards the monster especially in the later parts of the book.

Celeste (celeste57) | 8 comments I think my favorite thing about a group like this is hearing how we all read the same book, and yet we read it in so many different ways. The awesome thing about books is how open they are to interpretation, especially a book like Frankenstein.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments Yeah, I agree about the Monster, but I did not much sympathize with Victor despite his passion. To me, he was a upper-class twit expecting automatic respect because of his upper class. He brought the monster to life wanting glory and hurrahs and acclaim, to show up professors and students at his university, not because he was saving lives through developing a new medical procedure. Taking care of people was far from his goals as a doctor.

It is quite a moral leap from impoverished abandoned and lonely angst to being a killer of women and children just because they all want to kill him on sight, but the Monster's rage is understandable, if not defendable, since the excuse of self-defense was impossible in the cases he chose to murder were in cold blood.

To me, vain and self-centered idiots like Victor are more cruel and nasty because they tend to think it's all about them. I find such personalities a royal pain in the caboose, and just plain awful people in real life. The monster could have just continuously haunted or robbed Victor for decades after learning how to read and write and get around, which I wish he had done, but it would have made for a terribly dull Halloween read!

Leesa I finished! Somewhat late to the party but it has been a crazy month so I will keep it short...

I liked the book and wasn't at all what I was expecting.
I did sympathise with the monster more so than I was expecting to, mainly when he told his story. That was also my favourite part of the book.
Overall I felt it was a fitting end to the story too but I guess aside from being busy the reason I didn't finish earlier was the pacing of the book. Aside from the monsters story I didn't feel connected enough to want to pick it up on every occasion. I didn't sympathise with Victor at all and thought him whiny and childlike, especially when he deserted his newly living creature- all I wanted him to go was turn around so I could find out more!

I'm skipping Novembers BOTM all together so hopefully my next review will be on time!

Kandice I didn't sympathize with Victor at all! Here's my review: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

Sarah | 729 comments Yeah, Victor is a dick!

message 22: by Kaseadillla (last edited May 01, 2017 02:10PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Kaseadillla | 1349 comments Mod
lol sarah, just giggling at your reaction

Hectaizani This is the SPOILER full discussion where we can talk about the minute details of the book to our hearts content. I'm bumping it up today because I realized I might be in the car on the 1st (taking a driving trip to New Mexico). I plan on reading in the car as much as I can.

The buddy read "officially" begins on August 1st but you do you - if you want to start earlier or later it's all good.

Hectaizani I started reading today. I know the story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster mainly from media versions so I’m really interested in reading the original source material.

I didn’t realize that it started out as a series of letters. Interested in finding out if the whole book continues in that vein. The old fashioned prose is also kind of fun.

message 25: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue I'm about 20% through the book. At first I was really thrown off by the letters and the sea voyage. I actually went back to the "home" in my e-reader to make sure I hadn't opened the wrong book by accident.

It took awhile to get used to the flowery writing style. Hectaizani - I see you mentioned the old-fashioned prose style as well. I think it unintentionally puts me in the time frame of the story.

So far, I'm really enjoying the book!

Renee (elenarenee) I am fascinated by the fact that this book was considered so horrific.

It is interesting to see how times have changed. Now people clone their pets. The select which genes their children will have. I

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 1013 comments Sue, I suspect there's nothing unintentional about it. The writing style is meant, I believe, to show the character, class, education level of the narrator.

After all, other stories of the time were written in more direct language... it's not as if Shelley couldn't have written more plainly if her intent inclined that way.

message 28: by Sue (new) - added it

Sue Cheryl wrote: "Sue, I suspect there's nothing unintentional about it. The writing style is meant, I believe, to show the character, class, education level of the narrator.

After all, other stories of the time w..."

Good points Cheryl! I hadn't thought of it that way. I don't often read books quite this old.

Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1108 comments I am glad to see I was not the only one thrown by the letters — not easy to digest while listening for me.

Fantastic Alice Fox (fantasticalicefox) | 4 comments Beautiful and Enchanting. I'm glad so many people are enjoying this work so far. It's ome of my "Yes! We did it first!" books in that it's the first sci fi and written by mary Shelley . I also would recommend perusing Gutenberg for hher short stories and her bios.

I think the next Shelley I take on will not be Shelley at all as I have never listened to the Doctor Who Mary Shelley trilogy in its entirety and I am curious if Dean Koontz Frankenstein is any good.

I do want to read Last Man and her short stories eventually.

message 31: by Trisha (last edited Aug 05, 2018 09:42AM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Trisha | 431 comments I knew very little about this book when I started reading it. Like Sue & Joanna, I was surprised by the letters at the beginning. Beautifully written, a lovely introduction that made me want to read more initially.

I have now finished reading it. I liked the writing style & I’m sure it was very creative & shocking at the time it was written. But it wasn’t for me, I found it a chore even though I didn’t already know the story & haven’t watched the film.

Hectaizani Trisha, I'm sorry you didn't like it.

I'm still on the fence because I haven't gotten that far in. I'm at the part (view spoiler) which I think is pretty unfair since he (view spoiler) which is sort of like abandoning your kid because it doesn't resemble you enough.

Trisha | 431 comments Hectaizani wrote: "Trisha, I'm sorry you didn't like it.

I'm still on the fence because I haven't gotten that far in. I'm at the part [spoilers removed] which I think is pretty unfair since he [spoilers removed] wh..."

I agree that he was very unfair. (view spoiler)

message 34: by Tara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tara Burns | 6 comments Can someone explain how you can put in "hide spoiler"

message 35: by Hectaizani (last edited Aug 07, 2018 03:53PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Hectaizani You type < Spoiler >

With no spaces between the < > and the words.

To close it you use . < /spoiler >

message 36: by Tara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tara Burns | 6 comments Nevermind, I googled it!!

Hectaizani As I’m getting further in and reading more of the monster’s story I am losing all sympathy for Victor. He created it, couldn’t deal with what he made, and then abandoned it without a second thought. The poor thing was intelligent and feeling. While I don’t agree with the monster’s choice of how to get revenge by (view spoiler) I think Victor was a massive jerk.

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 1013 comments I agree. I honestly don't think Shelley likes Victor, either.

message 39: by Tara (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tara Burns | 6 comments I agree with you Hectaizani, I actually was very confused on why he was horrified by the monster when the monster opened his eyes. He picked out all the parts and created him, why was it suddenly so horrific? I think I am a bit beyond you, but I was really enjoying the beginning of the book and now it seems like I am just reading chapter after chapter of scenery and Victor's whining.

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments Tara wrote: "I agree with you Hectaizani, I actually was very confused on why he was horrified by the monster when the monster opened his eyes. He picked out all the parts and created him, why was it suddenly s..."

I suspect it was like roadkill opening it's eyes and coming for you.

Cheryl wrote: "I agree. I honestly don't think Shelley likes Victor, either."


Hectaizani aPriL does feral sometimes wrote "I suspect it was like roadkill opening it's eyes and coming for you."

I like this description. And I understand him being shocked that it worked, but I feel like he should have known that stitching a bunch of random body parts together into a gigantic replica of a man was going to be grotesque when it was awakened.

I mean if you're going to be a necromancer you need to have a strong stomach.

I'm in the Orkney islands now, where Victor had another nervous breakdown after (view spoiler).

I'm sad for the friend, whose name I can't remember and the book is in the other room but Victor is just putting more nails in his crybaby coffin.

Hectaizani I finished last night.

Totally saw that coming (view spoiler)

I found the ending sad. (view spoiler)

Cheryl has hopes her life will calm down soonish (cherylllr) | 1013 comments I find myself saying cliche, trope, predictable when reading old classics... and then slap myself because Hello, this is the book that *started* it all. It was original at the time!

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments Cheryl wrote: "I find myself saying cliche, trope, predictable when reading old classics... and then slap myself because Hello, this is the book that *started* it all. It was original at the time!"

: D

message 45: by Joanna Loves Reading (last edited Aug 15, 2018 08:09PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1108 comments I am more than halfway through listening and am really not liking it. I think I may not continue. For me, it’s a combination of the first person narrative (typically don’t enjoy those) and the style. I know it’s old-fashioned, but there are many classics that I can read and enjoy without issue. It feels very laborious here. I also haven’t found myself connecting to any of the characters, which I think is a key factor in my enjoyment of a book.

Renee (elenarenee) I think Frankenstein is too stylized for my taste. I love to read classics but I did not enjoy this one. I felt that Shelly was trying to be too clever.

I also expected to be horrified. But I was not. We live in an age where we clone, The creation of life is no longer something that shocks.

Frankenstein will always be part of our history. It shows us who we were, But I think its place is more a historical position

message 47: by Joanna Loves Reading (last edited Aug 16, 2018 06:06PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Joanna Loves Reading (joannalovesreading) | 1108 comments Renee wrote: "I think Frankenstein is too stylized for my taste. I love to read classics but I did not enjoy this one. I felt that Shelly was trying to be too clever.

I also expected to be horrified. But I was..."

I agree on the part of history. I can appreciate that even if I cannot find enjoyment from it.

I think at the time of this novel there was a pretty big black market for body snatchers (a.k.a resurrectionists). I can see how this theme could play on the fear of this book’s contemporaries.

message 48: by aPriL does feral sometimes (last edited Aug 16, 2018 07:03PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

aPriL does feral sometimes  (cheshirescratch) | 559 comments I enjoyed the novel a lot. I have read it twice now. Great early horror story which tells a lot about the drawing-room conversation of genteel middle- and upper-class readers. It was when ordinary people were beginning to reflect a new awakening of interest in the causes of poverty and poor people. Sympathetic commentary about having no resources or loving parents were being sneaked into books for the first time as a horror and not as a comedy of stupid and ill-mannered people (and openly seen as people who had good reasons - poverty - to be so mean - see Charles Dickens novels), mixing into books the horrors of no education and abuse and drunkeness common to the lower classes, intending to rouse public interest and shame. Also, writing about the beauty of countryside pandered to awakening general middle-class public interest in travel, the Arts, other Romantic Era aspirational interests (living like the upper classes, supposedly). Rich and educated men who were proud of their privileges and blind to how their excesses affected the servants and the poor were being held up as being very unChristian.

The 19th-century was a period when the middle classes actually were taking over society. More and more middle-class people were learning to read, draw, paint, ride horses, go on walks, vacation, hire servants and carriages, buy fine furniture, practice flower arranging and attend lectures and soirées, do arty needlework, have nice clothes, and could brag about interests of the mind like philosophy and science. What we would today consider impolite and heavy social topics for what was a 'light' weekend entertainment of fireside storytelling oneupmanship says a lot about 19th-century education, too, unlike, like, today's social media, right? Where smart readers and students try to hide their serious side behind uncountable selfies of themselves and restrictions on any conversation about politics.

Lecture over.

: )

Armin | 203 comments A great choice for this month.
I read Frankenstein a few months ago and really enjoyed it. When the suspense started at the 3rd part, I couldn't leave the book out of my hands. Great twists and background stories. It has great symbolism. Was the monster Adam, Devil or both at the same time, or was actually his creator the monster? A lot of significant themes are represented in the book: scientific exploration which mutates into obsession, dissolution and companionship, injustice, loss of loved ones and connection with nature.
To bad that the interpretation in cinema and popular culture stripped off the story of its main themes and made it into a cheap horror show.
Also, an interesting fact is that Mary Shelley taught herself to read, just like the monster in this novel.

spoko (spokospoko) | 131 comments Just finished re-reading it; this is my second time through. I didn’t love it as much as I did the first time, but did still like it a lot.

Reading through some of the comments in this thread (from previous reads), I’m surprised to see people interpreting Victor’s revulsion as being from the creature’s looks. I know he does speak of the way it looks, but really I always assumed his horror arose from a feeling of abomination—a sense of just how unnatural the creature’s existence really is. There seems to be a moment when this unanimated assemblage of parts—which may have been unattractive, but wasn't repulsively ugly—rapidly transforms into a real, live monstrosity which he cannot bear to behold.

I’ve always taken this story as a morality tale about what happens when scientific curiosity and passion are allowed to run away, unchecked by morality or humility. We see this again and again in human history—from the industrial revolution which dehumanized human labor, to the development of nuclear weapons and drones, which have dehumanized human conflict, etc. One example that kept recurring to me this time through was Artificial Intelligence. We have created it, set its course, and now we are increasingly terrified of the havoc it is wreaking on our world.

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EVERYONE Has Read This but Me - The Catch-Up...

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Frankenstein (other topics)

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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (other topics)