Tuesday, October 22, 2013


I read this book while we were on the plane. It's short, so very doable even on a flight that lasts less than nine hours. I'd never read it before, but was pretty familiar with the story through the many Hollywood adaptations. Even with some familiarity there were a few things that surprised me.

I didn't find Victor Frankenstein to be a very sympathetic character. He spent more time than I would have expected hiding from or whining about his creation rather than dealing with the problems he created head on. I had more sympathy for the monster, though even there not as much as I thought I would. That makes it sound as though I didn't enjoy the book when I did.

I was pleasantly surprised by the intelligence of the monster. I expected a slow, lumbering giant, but instead the monster is incredibly agile, fast, and smarter than I think even Frankenstein could have imagined while he was working in his lab.

There are a variety of things that I think are smartly addressed, though not with completely answered questions, that make this a good read. The first is the most obvious- bioethics. At what point should Frankenstein have stopped himself? At what point should he have stopped trying to figure out if he could complete the experiment and asked whether it should be attempted at all? What responsibility did he have to the monster after it's creation? Surely there had to be a better reaction to the monster than hiding from it and leaving it to find its own way through the world.

That brings me to the next topic addressed, and one that's been covered many times before. There are so many things that we see in the way the monster is treated and repeatedly rejected that tell us about the negative effects of isolation. It's human nature to want acceptance, to want to have a. Place in society. I'm not sure that you can call the monster human, but I think the same basic desires apply to his nature.

One of the things that strikes me in the story is how cowardly Frankenstein really. Is. He never tells anyone about his connection to and his role in so much senseless violence. I think the argument can be made that in some way he is the cause for everything that happens, but I don't think you can remove all the blame from the monster. Making Frankenstein the cause implies that the monster couldn't be accountable for his own actions, and I think he's too smart for that. It would be like absolving all of us for what we do and instead punishing our parents for our actions. It's unfair to them and offensive to us.

There are a lot of things not to like about the characters in this book, and a lot of questions that may or may not be answered to every readers satisfaction. With that in mind, I think it's worth the read, especially if there's an opportunity to discuss the ideas presented and the implications that something written nearly 200 years ago still has today.

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