Friday, June 10, 2011

ReView of FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly ; creation, degradation, evil and good

Have you ever experienced in life that moment when you commit yourself to something, so blindly and profoundly, that it degrades your soul to extinction before you even realize what you have done?  This book reminded me of those moments of life in which before you even have a chance to realize what you're creating, you've created a monster that will terrify, torment, and haunt your soul and spirit for as long as you live.

This is another one of my favorite books.  I fell in love with the style of the writing as soon as I began reading it.  The story is told backwards, from the future to the past, and then again towards the present.  We learn of Frankenstein as the end result.  We know what he has become before we learn what has lead him to his demise.  As a result, I had mixed feelings and misconceptions of Frankenstein.  His being is profoundly wise at the start of the book, and then we are thrown smack dab in the middle of his ignorance and ego, which later unfold and transform through his misfortunes and misery.  The style of the writing works in waves, it has very plateaued scenarios of stories which slowly build and build and build to burst the character's agony and despair about his creation.  And it is in these waves of emotional openings that you get fully acquainted with Frankenstein's inner being.  The same is accomplished for the 'wretched fiend' that Frankenstein has created.  It is through this method of writing that I truly came to empathize with both Frankenstein and his creature.

The book was written during the Romantic period of the 1800's, and as a result the 'monster' Frankenstein creates is considered a 'Romantic hero because of the rejection he must bear from normal society.'  This theme had the greatest impact on my attraction and attachment to the novel.  Frankenstein creates the 'creature' in gigantic measure and hideous appearance.  This, unfortunately, becomes the determining factor by which others see and judge the 'creature.'  He is chased away by everyone as a result of his hideous appearance and big size out of fear for their lives.  This falls in line with the theme that people in conventional societies often outcast or border those less than average or disfigured souls.  

The 'creature' is SUDDENLY born, alive, out of dead physiological materials, not as a baby, but as a grown adult who suddenly has to find 'its' way through the world of humanity.  He learns, on his own, the body language interactions between humans, the family bonds which hold humans together through highs and lows, he learns of the spiritual struggles of humans, he learns what emotions are and how to identify different ones, he learns empathy and compassion, he learns to long for companionship, and above all he learns how to speak and express himself.  All through the present act of observation and imitation.  He wonders about his creator and becomes frequently haunted by the horrified expression his creator had shown him as he had awakened, and had often questioned his own existence as a result.  He longs to be in the company of others, for selfish and selfless reasons, to feel the love and presence of others and possibly also be of service and help in times of need.  He's truly a kind soul and a warm heart, at the base of his existence.

That, however, doesn't last too long.  As he reaches out to the people he has known since the beginning of his existence, the people he had consistently watched and learned from and learn about, he discovers once again that he is shun away because of his 'wretched' appearance and his petrifying monstrosity.  He becomes full of agony and rage against his creator since he isn't able to find his anchor in the world, and he seeks him out.  At first he is so enraged that he wants revenge against his creator, and upon meeting his brother, he murders him.  Frankenstein begins his first stage of horror and despair as he learns the 'creature' is responsible for his brother's murder.  And furthermore, another would be killed in false accusation of the murder. Suddenly, Frankenstein, finds himself with two murders on his hands as a result of the creature he has created.  The 'fiend' continues to search for Frankenstein because he wishes the 'creator' to create a female companion for him, it is the only way he can survive in the world.  No one will have him, so the creator must give him a companion of his kind.  Frankenstein refuses, and thus continues the torturous journey for the 'creature' against his creator.

It is at this turning point in the novel that all questions begin to arise.  How tragic is it that humanity cannot see past appearances and misconceptions?  We all need a companion in life, don't we, is that too much to ask for?  Injustice creates injustice, doesn't it?  If it weren't for the creator's injustice to the creature, the creator himself would have never felt the injustice of his life.  And what about secrecy and fear, doesn't that lead us to our own horrible demise of the degradation of the spirit?  If only, Frankenstein had spoken up about his brother's murder revealing who had, in fact, killed him.  If only Frankenstein had never feared creating another creature as companion for the 'fiend'.  Maybe things would have transpired differently.  And what about compassion for the human soul?  Why was the 'creature' doomed' in his fate as a human being, when he had nothing working against him, except first hand appearances?  Others created him in their own image, rather than being given a chance to fully live who he truly was, or who he desired to become.  His fate was already determined by his appearance rather than by his inner spirit.

I felt the 'creature's' despair. I felt the creator's agony and torture.  And I felt sad for those innocents caught in the crossfire.

This is probably one of those powerfully underestimated novels.

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