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Archive: Other Books > Frankenstein by Mary Shelley -- 4 stars

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Nicole R (drnicoler) | 7758 comments Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4 stars

WOW! I really had only a basic knowledge of Frankenstein before I started reading this book, and then I quickly realized that everything I thought I knew was wrong.

First and foremost, Frankenstein is the name of the SCIENTIST, not the monster! Mind. Blown. And no just blown because a movie switched the names, but because that change has so fully permeated our culture to now be more recognizable than Shelley's original intent. I may be overanalyzing this, but I am amazed.

But, on to the actual story.

From a structural and stylistic point of view, it reminds me very much of Dracula, which I read last year, though Frankenstein predates it's classic gothic partner by over 75 years. The men had these odd attachments to each other (I feel like mens' friendships used to be much more devoted and flowery that modern ones) and the women were all weak (more on that later). Part of the story was told in a series of letters and it was massively symbolic.

However, I though Shelley was brilliant with her symbolism. And I picked up on it, which is skill that often eludes me. Shelley wrote this toward the end of the First Industrial Revolution (I think, Regina, Leah, or Care will correct me if I am wrong) and her theme of humans as natural, good beings created by god versus the unnatural, evil beings created by science was stark. It was a cautionary tale for her age.

There were also themes of religion and the natural world but I did not find them as compelling as the scientific cautionary tale. Which is not surprising given my professional background. And, how wonderfully pertinent to today's society where we use scientific advancements to prevent disease, engineer more productive crops, and literally determine genes of future humans. It may not be reanimation, but it is eerily similar and the effects are unknown.

Now let's move on to the portrayal of women, my second favorite topic after science!

I was truly surprised that there was not even a glimpse of a strong female character in this! Instead, we get the stereotypical evil woman (Justine) who is deemed responsible for the death of a man and falsely punished. Then we have the stereotypical stand-by-your-man woman (Elizabeth) who demurely follows Frankenstein to her ultimate demise, suffering for his failures.

And while this is not uncommon depiction of women at the time (looking at Dracula again) I expected more from MARY Shelley. I mean, she sounds pretty badass. She wrote Frankenstein on a dark and stormy night (no joke) on a party dare from Lord Byron. It is THE example of gothic literature and some argue the first true science fiction. On top of that, I think this "party" that she was at with Lord Byron sounds like a thinly veiled orgy. However, Wikipedia does not confirm that.

While some of the passages were a little long winded, and Frankenstein and The Monster both wax a little too poetic about the travesty of their lives, I still thoroughly enjoyed this book. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to get to the original impetus of gothic literature this Halloween season.

A note on the audio: I listened to this version, which was okay but I wish I would have gotten the version narrated by Dan Stevens. But alas, I went with the free version at my library instead of using an audible credit.


Booknblues | 5776 comments My high school junior English teacher assigned this book to us. It was a very long time ago, but it has stayed with me all these years.

I'm sure that at that age and time, I missed some of the things and symbolism but I remember it being a great book.


Tracy (tstan) | 1195 comments I loved not only the scientific cautionary part, but also the morality of: who is the real monster? The created, living man or the creator? Which can then lead to philosophical and religious discussions, looping back to science and its morality and...yup, it is a masterpiece packed into such a small package.
And for the record, I think Mary Shelley won Byron's contest, hands down!


message 4: by Ladyslott (last edited Oct 03, 2016 11:40AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Ladyslott | 1880 comments I loved the audio of this book; the one you didn't listen to. Dan Stevens was a great narrator.

I loved this book much more than I thought I would; it was so very different from all the Frankenstein movies I remember. And truly there is no question in my mind who the monster was in the book. It amazes me that Mary Shelley was 20 years old when she wrote this.


Book Concierge (tessabookconcierge) | 5801 comments Another dark "mad scientist" book is H.G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau. A local university hosts a "dinner and a book" discussion and TIoDM is this month's book. As a bonus, they've arranged a tour of the Center for Biomolecular Modeling ...with the director of that department giving the tour. I can hardly wait!


message 6: by Karin (last edited Oct 03, 2016 03:24PM) (new) - rated it 2 stars

Karin | 7004 comments Nicole R wrote: "Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4 stars

WOW! I really had only a basic knowledge of Frankenstein before I started reading this book, and then I quickly realized that every..."


No strong female characters is very ironic, given that her mother was a feminist and wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Of course, her mother died when she was only a month old.

I've not read this book, but learned that Frankenstein was the name of the doctor thanks to that movie, "Young Frankenstein."


Tracy (tstan) | 1195 comments Karin wrote: "Nicole R wrote: "Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
4 stars

WOW! I really had only a basic knowledge of Frankenstein before I started reading this book, and then I quickly re..."


Love that movie! Gene Wilder was such a loss this year.


Karin | 7004 comments Tracy wrote: "Love that movie! Gene Wilder was such a loss this year. .."

Yes, although I found his movies hit or miss. My favourite of his movies was never a hit, I think due to the boring beginning before Harrison Ford comes into the story. That one is Frisco Kid. Gene Wilder was a Polish Rabbi travelling to the wild west. Once Wilder and Ford were together, it was a gold mine (it's been a while since I've seen it, so this was when I was younger).


Tracy (tstan) | 1195 comments Karin wrote: "Tracy wrote: "Love that movie! Gene Wilder was such a loss this year. .."

Yes, although I found his movies hit or miss. My favourite of his movies was never a hit, I think due to the boring beginn..."


That sounds like a movie I'd like- thanks!


message 10: by Regina Lindsey (new)

Regina Lindsey | 1005 comments Nope, you've got it right! I didn't want to read it until my daughter who is very much like me came home from studying in high school bubbling over with all the talk of how brilliant the social commentary was on the historical context within its written.


message 11: by Jennifer P. (new)

Jennifer P. Pope (jenjunum) | 902 comments My daughter educated some people tonight about the Dr being Frankenstein! I don't even know how she knew! She's 8!


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