Boris Karloff version of the creature

The misconception of

Frankenstein

It is ironic that the monster in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is completely misunderstood in the novel and to the experienced reader. This novel contains no green and geometrically headed monsters and no white-maned mad scientists. In fact, Mary Shelley’s monster never receives a name (a definite theme in the novel) and Victor Frankenstein (the monster’s creator) is sympathetic even amid his erroneous goal to create a human being. Although Hollywood depictions consistently contradict, Hollywood’s depictions consistently contradict that Mary Shelley’s monster is eloquent and well read. These last two characteristics are an interesting juxtaposition to his repulsive physical appearance. (Again, making for a few more interesting themes in the novel.) If you have any pre-conceived notions about Victor Frankenstein or his monster, you need to leave them behind you and enthusiastically jump into the original—which was meant to be a story that would “speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.” (Introduction, 7)

Read Author’s introduction to the Standard Novels Edition (1831) This is Mary Shelley writing her own introduction in the 1831 version. She was asked to make her novel part of a standard novels set. This introduction should be included with your text. I have two copies of this novel, in one text I have this introduction at the beginning and the other it is located at the end. It is about 6 pages long. Here is a link for an e-text version that includes the introduction : LINK HERE

As you read, keep the following thoughts and questions at the front of your mind:

What impressions do you have of Mary Shelley? Of Percy Shelley?

Be aware of the people and situations that influenced Mary Shelley to write Frankenstein.

In her introduction, Mary Shelley mentions galvanism. During the 1790s, Italian physician Luigi Galvani demonstrated the ability to make frog muscles twitch by jolting them with a spark of electricity. Galvani originally thought that “electric fluid” ran though the veins of living things and this is what animated us. These thoughts are the basis of Galvanism and what we now understand to be the electrical basis of nerve impulses.

Note that in this introduction, Mary Shelley asserts that her husband, Percy wrote the preface of this novel. Do you believe her?

Last modified: Wednesday, 31 October 2012, 6:52 PM