Books and Movies Reviews


In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, people who know Frankenstein only from the movies are often surprised to learn that in Mary Shelley's novel so-called Monster is thinking and talking being whose predicament evokes considerable sympathy. The novel opens strikingly enough as Victor Frankenstein pursues across the frozen ice, north of Archangel, a strange misshapen giant of a man. However, the figures disappear among the icebergs. Mary Shelley's classic tale concerns a man who manages to create life and the terrible price he and his creation pay for this human meddling in nature's domain.
In the novel itself, Victor Frankenstein is understandably reluctant to reveal how he gave life to his creature, "Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I shouldfirst break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source (Vol I, Ch.4, p.64)." Victor Frankenstein was the heir of a noble family; he had studied alchemy as well as modern science, and gradually became obsessed with the hope that he might discover the elixir of life. Victor builds his creature as an act of self-assertion, of identity making. By creating life in his laboratory, he achieves the power of God, and indeed, he states that he hopes his creature will worship him. He has also usurped the power of the feminine, for he has reproduced without a woman. He thus seizes power that should not be his and establishes his own patriarchal line. The creature he has built is Victor's family. Clearly his son, the makes, he is. As the creature comes to dominate Victor, taunting him with his superior strength, depriving him of his sister bride on his wedding night, he becomes Victor's farther figure. The night he brings the creature to life, Victor dreamsfirst of Elizabeth, then of his dead mother in her shroud; he awakens to see the creature sta