I hope everyone is doing well and staying safe. One day I won’t have to open every Weekly Blog that way but that might not be until…2022? Anyway, let’s not focus on that. It’s October and that means we should be focusing on spooky stuff like ghost stories and slasher films instead of scary stuff like global recessions and ongoing pandemics. However, before we talk about spooky stuff, let me quickly talk about the pieces I published this past week. On Sunday, I published a Weekly Blog about Haunted Houses. I talked all about my experience with Haunted Houses, Haunted Woods, and Haunted Caves. All the fun places you can go to get scared by teenagers in bad Halloween masks wielding leaf blowers. I’m not a horror movie person so Haunted Houses are definitely not my cup of tea. Then on Friday, I published the latest chapter to my Dungeons and Dragons inspired series, “A Risky Gambit Part 2.” Last time the group was let out of jail and handed over to Ambassador Pria, but Grace pulled a dagger on Pria and the group ended up taking her hostage. So as you imagine, things are going to go great for the group from here on out. No worries at all. If you didn’t get a chance to check out those pieces, make sure you read them after you read this Weekly Blog.
As you know we are in the middle of October which is basically Halloween month. It’s a month full of spooky skeletons and ghosts, scary stories, and Halloween candy. Well it’s supposed to be anyway. October 2020 doesn’t really feel scary for those reasons as much as scary for other, real world reasons. Since there is still an ongoing pandemic, many spooky events are being cancelled and trick or treating will look very different this year. It’s kind of taken the wind of out of the sails for Halloween this year. For this reason, I really wanted to force myself into the Halloween spirit. But how would I do that? I’m not a horror movie person, so I decided that I’d instead focusing on reading something scary. Well not like Steven King scary. More like classic movie monster scary. This week I decided to read Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” and I want to talk about it in this week’s Weekly Blog.
If you know anything about classic movie monsters or classic horror novels, you know Frankenstein. Or you know Frankenstein’s Monster and that the Doctor was actually named Viktor Frankenstein and the creature he creates doesn’t really have a name. I tried to do some research on why the monster is called Frankenstein after all this time, but I really couldn’t find anything. I guess it’s just hard to talk about a character that doesn’t have a name and after all this time, the creature has become more iconic than the doctor that created them. As I was saying, you probably know the basics of Frankenstein. A Doctor creates a monster by sewing a bunch of body parts together and using the secret of science to bring it to life. But did you know that Frankenstein’s monster frame’s someone with murder, learns several languages, or escape’s to the North Pole? Yeah me neither. That’s why I decided I was going to read this classic. And you know what? It’s pretty good!
It’s kind of incredible to think that Mary Shelley wrote this in 1818 when she was only 20 years old just because she was in competition with her friends to see who could write the best horror story. Although I don’t think “Frankenstein” is scary in a modern horror movies are scary, but there are obviously a lot of gothic themes which started here and have been a part of the horror genre ever since. Mary Shelley created not only an iconic character which gets rebooted every year or so, but she also created one of the earliest examples of science fiction fueled by gothic images. “Frankenstein” is a horror story in the way someone could see Jurassic Park as a horror story. Both are stories in which science uses the power of nature to usurp the natural world. Dr. Frankenstein becomes obsessed with the study of life and his own scientific ambition when he creates the monster which parallels how scientists created dinosaurs which end up terrorizing everyone. Anyway, enough about dinosaurs, but you can see how the idea of scientists take it to far and create something that is dangerous and goes against nature definitely draws inspiration from “Frankenstein.”
Another big theme in “Frankenstein” is the idea of nature vs. nurture and which has a bigger affect on you as a human being. Throughout the novel, we learn the monster’s story and how at first they were furious at Dr. Frankenstein and even wanted to murder him. However, he ends up running away and finds an abandoned spot near this poor French family’s house. The monster is quite intelligent and learns how to read and write by studying the family. He even learns about morality and life lessons from observing them. Eventually he tries to befriend the family but they reject him because of his monstrous appearance. It doesn’t matter that the creature is intelligent because he looks like a monster. He then returns to Viktor’s home, killing Frankenstein’s brother, William, and frames the nanny. Frankenstein’s monster ends up killing Frankenstein’s’ best friend and wife as well. The creature blames these murders on Frankenstein who created him and then abandoned him, but Frankenstein believes the creature to be inherently evil.
The creature escapes from Frankenstein and flees toward the North Pole. Dr. Frankenstein pursues the creature hoping to get revenge and that is where he meets up with Captain Walton who serves as the narrator for the beginning and end of the story. In the story’s present day, Walton is captaining a ship toward the North Pole to make a big scientific discovery and find a passage across the north. However, after hearing Dr. Frankenstein’s story, Captain Walton decides to turn the ship around and return home to his sister (who he has been writing to for the entire story). Dr. Frankenstein wants to continue his pursuit after the monster but ends up dying from exhaustion and exposure. The creature then comes to the ship and mourns the death of his creator, saying that Frankenstein’s death brings him no pleasure or peace and that he should take his own life so his existence won’t create any more pain or suffering.
The ending is a bit hallow because no one really gets what they want. Dr. Frankenstein loses everyone he loves and cares about and fails to get revenge on the creature he blames for all his suffering. The creature does escape Frankenstein but does not find a place in the world or any kind of conclusion with Dr. Frankenstein. Viktor Frankenstein never takes responsibility for his affect on the monster or any reasonability for bringing them into existence. Finally Captain Walton hears this story of scientific discovery and ambition and ultimately learns that it Dr. Frankenstein’s aspiration for greatness only lead to pain and sadness. Captain Walton does not get his great discovery and ultimately heads home a failure. No one wins.
This leaves me thinking about who is the real monster in “Frankenstein.” I’ve definitely seen the sentiment that you shouldn’t call The Monster, Frankenstein because that’s the Doctor’s name, not the monster’s name. But then through reading the story, you learn that the monster is actually Doctor Frankenstein because they created the creature and then abandoned it to a life of pain and suffering without love. Is Frankenstein to blame for his own destruction and the loss of his family and friends or does that blame fall on the creature that actually murdered the people closest to Dr. Frankenstein? It’s hard to deny that both didn’t have some influence on each other and how the story ended up playing out. If Frankenstein didn’t mess with nature and create the creature or support his experiment after it was successful, maybe the creature wouldn’t have been a monster. However, even though the monster was giving a horrible existence, that doesn’t excuse the horrible things he did. People are born in bad situations all the time and that doesn’t mean they can’t rise above the terrible circumstances. In my opinion blame falls on both parties and that blame leads directly to a vicious cycle of violence which nobody escapes from.
So those were some of my thoughts about Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein.” I know that the argument of nature vs nurture and the danger around scientific ambition really gets you into the Halloween mood, but I really enjoyed reading the novel and I’m glad I got to talk about it. I didn’t get to really talk about it, but the novel has some really strong writing and it makes total sense to me that it’s a book we’d be talking about over 200 years later. It makes sense that Frankenstein is still a part of our cultural zeitgeist.
Thank you so much for reading that Weekly Blog all about “Frankenstein.” Hopefully you enjoyed learning about this classic monster and the novel attached to them. It’s honestly a pretty quick read so if you have some time between now and Halloween, I recommend picking up a copy. If you liked this Weekly Blog feel free to give it a Like. You can also leave a comment down below talking about Frankenstein or any classic horror icons. I’d love to hear from anyone who has read this novel before. We’re turning this Weekly Blog into a literature class now! But seriously, I am trying to create a positive and creative space here on the internet and I’d be ecstatic if you joined the community by Following me here on WordPress. I mentioned last time that I wanted to surpass 600 Followers by the end of the year and we hit that goal this past week. So maybe you want to Follow me and help me get to 700 Followers! If you do, I’d really appreciate it!
Thank you again for the support and I hope you have a wonderful week!
Header Photo Credit to Wikipedia