Going into this course, I was heavily insulated from the story of Frankenstein, perhaps more so than most, by the one-dimensional ideas that pervaded my pop culture exposure and childish Halloween fun. As I delve deeper into the story, I am dazzled, as most readers seem to be, by the multidimensional nature of the tale, particularly by the enormous humanity that exists within Frankenstein and his monster. Victor Frankenstein seemed to represent a sleepless and hollow man, a creature in his own right. But Victor enters the narrative boldly, a naked man discovered as little more than a skeleton floating in freezing waters. He appears to be extremely vulnerable, yet he speaks and acts with the passion of a recently woken man, one who, despite his circumstances, is happy simply to be a part of life. Indeed, Robert Walton expresses astonishment when Victor, floating alone in the Arctic Ocean, demands to know the destination of the ship before agreeing to board. Our minds now captivated by a still-nameless character, Shelley traces Victor’s beginnings, painting an intimate and very human portrait of him, so that when he is buried under his madness, I see within him not simply the empty shell of a mad scientist, but a shocking evolution fueled by a very human passion. This is the depth of character that often gets lost in the thrill tactics of popular culture, and as such, the character’s enormous platform to speak to his audience and to society is torn out from beneath him.
Similarly, the creature is often presented as a bumbling abomination, a burden on humanity rather than a part of, a product of, humanity. We are only beginning to be introduced to the creature, but already this iconic image seems at best incomplete.
The creature’s face is expressionless and his eyes, barely open, are enveloped in shadow. Of course, all art is subject to one’s own interpretation but to me, his existence in the image feels almost ghostly, like an idea or a fear rather than a physical presence.It robs us of the opportunity to feel a human energy from the creature. This is the way he was always presented to me, and it is only in the uncovering of Shelley’s words that he is becoming something more.