Sunday, September 11, 2011

R.I.P. - Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Another book I read as part of the R.I.P. Challenge.

"It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs." - Victor Frankenstein

Summary: It does seem pointless to give this book a summary. Anyway, the book opens with a couple of letters written by Captain Robert Walton to his dear sister Margaret. Their ship is trapped somewhere near the North Pole and there the voyagers come across a miserable, emaciated man. This man is Dr. Victor Frankenstein and he has a terrible story to tell.

As a scientist, Viktor Frankenstein is fascinated and inspired by ancient philosophers, the likes of Cornelius Agrippa. After years of crazed work, Frankenstein succeeds in manufacturing an actual living being. Terrified of the effects of his actions, he abandons the creature. Years later, the monster returns with a vengeance. The book is concluded by Robert Walton in his letters.

My thoughts: After a while, I have to admit, I got tired of the romanticism. I didn't like that there is no focus whatsoever on the scientific realism of the book. I always thought Frankenstein's monster would be, well, a monster. But the creature is a lot more human than I had imagined. His story of the way he learned his way around this world, the way he learned to speak and how he sought after his creator; it sounded somewhat far-fetched to me.

“Nature decayed around me, the sun became heatless; rain and snow poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface of the earth was hard and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter.” - Frankenstein's Monster

I did like the theme; an outcast, born a romantic, turned into a monster by his surroundings. I loved the detail with which the book is written. The book is very character oriented. Of all the different perspectives in the book, the ones that I really enjoyed were Robert Walton's letters and when Frankenstein's Monster told his story; I loved the imagery. I was slightly disappointed with Dr. Frankenstein. I suppose he might have been intended to be the weak man that he was, but reading the entire book from his painfully dull perspective was frustrating.

Then again, Frankenstein is one of the earliest 'science fiction' novels and Mary Shelley wrote this book when she was nineteen. I won't call it bad, because it's not. I admit I found the book a bit annoying. But other than that, it is a good book, and a must read!

5 comments:

Vishy said...

Nice review, Priya! Sorry to know that you found Victor Frankenstein's narration a bit dull. I loved the monster's perspective of the world and Robert Walton's letters to his sister. I found the book quite philosophical rather than scary.

Carl V. said...

What a great cover! I love that.

Frankenstein isn't my favorite of these well-known classic monster stories, but I do like it. I actually enjoy the fact that he is not much of a monster but is instead made so by his treatment in society. I think one thing I enjoy about it is the examination of who is most human, the monster or Victor Frankenstein.

Kailana said...

One of these days I am going to read this just to see what I think of it. It's something I avoided because the story itself is so well known...

opinionsofawolf said...

I studied this in an undergrad English class. Although you didn't like ti so well, you did hit upon the real theme--someone being made a monster by how they're treated. Additionally, there was a lot of concern at the time about what makes us human, etc... particularly because of the recent scientific discovery of evolution. I think that's relevant to today's debates over cloning/genetic experimentation.

So, yes, not your style if you're in it for the monster, but I still think it's a beautifully haunting story.

Priya said...

Vishy - I did love the letters, and I like books written in the form of letters! And the monster's story was really touching and beautiful; I only didn't like the character of Victor Frankenstein. Throughout the book I kept thinking for someone who has the blame for the whole thing, he sure has a lot of complaints!

Carl V. - I know, it's my favourite cover of this book. I expected the book to be something entirely else, so I was just a bit taken aback that the monster was so non-monstrous!

Kailana - I didn't love it; but it's still a great book. You shouldn't let the well known monster story stop you from reading it!

Opinionsofawolf - It's not like I was in it for the monster; I was just expecting a monster. And I was also expecting some scientific realism, like I wrote. But apart from that, I thought it was a wonderful read too! Thanks for stopping by!

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