Happy Friday the 13th! I don’t know if you have any plans, but as for me I’m going to spend my evening with pizza and horror films.
Since this is Friday the 13th, I decided to share a spooky gothic post.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
You all know how much I love spooky and gothic fiction, almost as much as my girl Catherine does.
That’s why I started Catherine Morland’s Reading List, a list of gothic fiction I recommend for my fellow spooky lovers.
So what can I say about Frankenstein that hasn’t been said? I of course watched the movie first, and loved it:
Shelley started writing Frankenstein when she was 18, with it being published when she was 20, in 1818- the same year as Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. And it is a mix between gothic fiction and science fiction.
The book starts off with a Captain Walton who is on an Arctic trip and writing to his sister. Every time I read the book I find myself connecting more and more to him than any other character.
“But I have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy, and the absence of the object of which I now feel as a most severe evil, I have no friend, Margaret: when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, there will be none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection. I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling. I desire the company of a man who could sympathise with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend. I have no one near me, gentle yet courageous, possessed of a cultivated as well as of a capacious mind, whose tastes are like my own, to approve or amend my plans.”Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Who doesn’t feel that lonely at times, especially as the older you get it’s harder to connect with old friends and make new ones..
Captain Walton finds Dr. Victor Frankenstein and learns of Dr. Frankenstein’s quest to hunt down his creature. We learn about how Victor was born into a wealthy family and had a desire to understand the world and create, like what the great alchemists have before him. But instead of trying to turn lead into gold, he wanted to capture life!
This is when things go downhill for Frankenstein. First he decides to create life without thinking about how he will train the creature or what type of morality he should instill in it. Or what it means to have a life breathing person. It’s as if he wanted to make a baby only for the science of it and then when the baby is born abandons it.
Victor also makes the Creature gigantic, about 8 feet in height. You have to remember not only is that really tall, but in 1818 it’s humongous as the average height of men were about 5.5. Compare 8 feet to 5.5
Victor goes to the trouble of trying to make the creature beautiful, but it’s several body parts from different people and is frightening with watery white eyes and yellow skin.
Once everything is completed Frankenstein realizes his mistake, but is unable to destroy it. Instead he just abandons it, adopting that mentality it is “future self’s problem). Frankenstein’s creature escapes from Frankenstein and tries to find acceptance, only to be rejected. He then acts on his emotions and wants; killing or hurting everyone that Frankenstein holds dear to get back at him after Frankenstein refuses to make the creature a female.
There are a lot of different analysis of the book, but to me I always felt that one of the points Shelley was making was the necessity of guidance and a code of morals to live by. You may argue between whether that is a higher power, the law, etc.; but there must be some kind of code of ethics or else chaos reigns. If everyone only went after what made them feel good and what they want terrible things can happen.
I also think it is reminiscent of her father not really guiding his daughter in her life where she was younger, but then trying to be a parent after she was almost an adult and already set in her ways/at an age when she didn’t feel she needed to listen to him. Frankenstein does the same when he abandons the creature, only to later try and have him adhere to Frankenstein’s moral code.
Either way I recommend it for all gothic fiction fans.
For more from Catherine Morland’s Reading List, go to Mexican Gothic
For more Gothic Fiction, go to What’s a Girl To Do When Your Parents Won’t Allow You to Live Your Gothic Dreams?
For more Frankenstein, go to Mysterious Things Have Happened. A Murder in the Village…They Probably Think You, Like Your Father, Have Created Another Monster…: Son of Frankenstein (1939)