Saturday, April 25, 2009

Book review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein - Mary Shelley

While sailing through the icy seas near the North Pole, adventurer Robert Walton and his crew come across a foreign man close to death and stranded on the snow.
After picking him up and attempting to nurse him back to health, the man reveals himself to be a scientist named Victor Frankenstein, whose interest in creating life through alternate means has led to his ultimate downfall.
Through letters to his sister Margaret, Robert Walton recounts Frankenstein’s tale, which has been dictated to him throughout their long conversations.
He reveals Frankenstein’s fascination with creation as a young man, and about his experiment, in which he combines body parts of the deceased to form a new being, which he brings to life with a shock of electricity.
But Frankenstein’s joy following his success is undermined once he looks into his creation’s ‘watery eyes’, and he rejects the creature on the basis of its looks, denying it any chance of being assimilated into his township, or into everyday human life. In a show of vengeance, the creature decides to wreak havoc on Frankenstein’s existence, and sets out to destroy him, and all that he holds dear.

What I gained from reading this book:
Mary Shelley’s classic novel raises many questions concerning the limitations of human creativity and highlights the moral boundaries that Victor Frankenstein breaches when he rejects his creation, and the creature’s subsequent requests for a mate. Readers have to question if the events in the novel would ever have occurred had Frankenstein treated his creature with respect, especially since the creature shows no sign of malevolence before being rejected. This book makes readers consider how tolerance and education can shape somebody’s attitudes to life, and highlights how fine the line between good and bad really is.

This is one of the most famous gothic novels to ever be written and the influence it has had on other literature and film is astounding. Not only is this story written with gripping detail, but Shelley lets us see the story from both sides. The reader is given an insight into Frankenstein’s mind as he struggles to control and hide his disgust at his creation, and several chapters are dedicated to the creature’s interpretation of the same events. This allows the reader to see why each of the characters reacts in the way that they do.

This novel was originally published in the year 1818, so if you are not a fan of ‘old-fashioned’ writing, then this book is probably not a good choice for you.

Rating: 7 out of 10

Genre: Classic Horror

Recommended for: People who want to read a classic book that still raises questions today.

Australians can buy the book by clicking the picture below

Frankenstein: Or, the Modern Prometheus

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