Children

Frankenstein’s monster

It was a dark and rainy night. Four people sat around a fire, telling ghost stories. One of them suggested that they each write a ghost story. The only woman in the group worried about the challenge till lying in bed one night she saw an image that inspired her to write her story.

Frankenstein’s monster

The young woman was Mary Shelley and the year was 1816. Shelley was in Geneva with poets Percy Shelley and Lord Byron. Although Shelley meant to write a story for the competition, she ended up writing a novel. The novel, titled Frankenstein, was published anonymously in 1818. It was only later that the world learnt the name of the creator of this disturbing tale.

Mary Shelley came from a family of writers; her father William Godwin was an English journalist, political philosopher and novelist, while her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was an English writer, philosopher, and advocate of women’s rights.

A horrific creation

Frankenstein is the story of Victor Frankenstein and his obsession with creating life. He sews various body parts to create a creature, and infuses life into it. But the first sight of his creation horrifies Frankenstein.

He understands the enormity of what he has done and runs away. The creature is gone when he returns and for a while Frankenstein is happy.

The creature tries to befriend humans but realising that its appearance horrifies people, stays in hiding. Tired of this lonely life, the creature begs Frankenstein for a companion. Frankenstein, himself on the verge of getting married, agrees to do this. Minutes before infusing life into it, however, Frankenstein realises the danger of unleashing another monster on the world and destroys it. This angers the creature and he vows revenge. The creature follows Frankenstein and kills his newly-wed wife, and later, his friend. Frankenstein’s father dies of shock. All alone now, Frankenstein sets out to destroy the monster he has created and make the world a safe place. He follows the monster to the North Pole but dies there. The monster understands that with the death of its creator it is doomed to a lonely, hopeless existence and declares that death is its only option now.

Frankenstein’s monster

The story is not narrated in the traditional format, but rather through letters. These are written by a man called Walton who is on a ship to the North Pole and saves Frankenstein. As Frankenstein recovers, he narrates his story to Walton. Walton conveys this story to his sister through a series of letters. The readers therefore never really get to meet any of the principal characters in the book, but only learn of them through the letters. The book, considered an early example of science fiction, has inspired many adaptations for the silver screen. The phrase ‘Frankenstein’s monster’ is today used to refer to something that becomes dangerous to its maker.

Frankenstein is a thought-provoking book and forces readers to wonder — who is the real monster? The creature or his creator? And this is perhaps the secret of this novel’s continuing popularity, 200 years after it was first published.

Frankenfacts:

MARY SHELLEY: A still from the movie.

MARY SHELLEY: A still from the movie.   | Photo Credit: MAIL PIC

  • Mary Shelley was only 18 years old when she began writing the book, and 20 when it was published.
  • The author is credited with creating the idea of a ‘mad scientist’ who locks himself away from the world to carry out his experiments.
  • Mary Shelley, a 2017 film, focuses on the creator of Frankenstein.
  • The complete title of the book is Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus.
  • People mistakenly believe that the creature is called Frankenstein.
  • The creature is referred to as ‘monster’, ‘fiend’ or ‘demon.’ It is intelligent and learns to read and speak and think logically.
  • The first film based on Frankenstein was made by Edison studios in 1910. Son of Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, Frankenstein Conquers the World and The Ghost of Frankenstein are some of the many movies which are inspired by the book.
  • Frankenfood is the name given to genetically modified food.
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Printable version | Nov 19, 2020 8:58:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/children/frankensteins-monster/article25632763.ece

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