Whew – that was. Interesting.
So I knew the story pretty damn well. Despite not reading it before, I really felt like there were few surprises.
The only big surprise to me was the super-secret of how he made Frankenstein. That is one the movie-makers really confused me on with the whole lightning thing. I even went to Gutenberg and searched “lightning” – it’s only mentioned 5 times in the whole book and all AFTER the monster is created. I was looking for that!!
Ok, I’m not going to stress about spoilers because…. well the book was originally written in 1818 and anything 200 years old (Damn, I wish I’d read it last year) I think should be pretty fair game. If you need to, you can go to Wikipedia, although it definitely is worth the read.
Now, for my take on the book. I think Frankenstein made the monster up because he is mentally ill. I don’t know enough psychology to even begin to guess whether it would be some kind of paranoid delusion or split personality kind of thing – but there are a few things that stood out to me very, very quickly.
Until the very, very end no one but Victor Frankenstein ever sees the monster (not that can be confirmed – the monster claims people saw him in his tale but….). Somehow the “fiend” or “demon” always comes to Victor when he’s alone or is sighted only against some kind of light backdrop (usually the moon) and manages to elude the sight of every other person in the area (even when there are manhunts going on). Even at the end, Walter who is the frame of the entire story – was alone and might have been having a dream of the loss of his newfound friend. That’s my theory on Walter’s supposed viewing (I mean supposedly this 8-foot monster came in and out of a porthole window…)
There are also at least three mental breakdowns that Victor admits to – two of them after murders have been committed against his loved ones. He admits to raving and delusions in those. One of those he even cops to being held in solitary confinement. “For they had called me mad, and during many months, as I understood, a solitary cell had been my habitation.” (Chapter 23). He spends a lot of time trying to make sure no one thinks he’s crazy; hiding the possible existence of the monster for who would believe him.
He believes, after the multiple murders, that ‘good spirits’ help him track the monster. Somehow food just shows up – you know, the poor fare of peasants of the area just magically appears in his path… and he just mystically knows where the monster is going. This is now after multiple mental breaks – the narrative has become more and more disjointed.
Throughout the narrative Victor doesn’t seem like a very reliable narrator. There are inconsistencies beyond his ‘mysterious food deliverers’ at the end. That is the culmination of the unreliable narration. The first one that made me go “That made NO SENSE” was the murder of his best friend Henry Clerval. Henry had been galavanting someone in England while Victor was on some barren little rock making a mate for the monster.
After loosing his shit on the mate and disappointing the monster, he heads out to sea to allow his own death by…. exposure? Then somehow Henry washes up on IRELAND so close to Victor’s own washing-up-on-shore (with his little boat) that he’s accused of the murder. AND HE ADMITS TO IT. And then claims it couldn’t have been him, but also refuses to tell anyone the truth about his fiend. I think his daddy (who shows up) bailed him out.
I’m just saying, there are holes in his story and whether Shelley meant it or not, I read it that Frankenstein is the monster himself and has paranoid delusions or something to try to “justify” (in his own mind) his murders. HE isn’t responsible, the monster is!