Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Alright, this post is VERY long. I read Frankenstein in school this semester, and instead of writing an entirely new review of the book, I decided just to copy paste parts of my final review (ok, most of it :) ) of it onto my blog. Have fun reading!

...There were elements that I liked and disliked, but overall I was not impressed; I prefer the good old days when books actually made me happy, and when they had happy endings. Life has enough depressing features; I prefer to not be reminded of them in the literature that I read. Shelly’s novel was rather sad and disheartening, but I was expecting that. I had heard many things about the novel, and was familiar with many allusions to it, but none of that was enough to prepare me for the novel that Mary Shelly wrote. Frankenstein is a daunting piece of literature that surpassed my original assumptions, has important morals painted into it, and would be recommended with careful discretion.

If I had to pick one word to describe the book it would be 'intimidating', the main reason being that the language is so profuse and pompous it is hard to concentrate on what exactly is going on. Shelly used such large words that it took me out of the story to figure out how to say them and what they meant. If I were to rewrite her novel, I would reduce the amount of academically challenging words. It is not that I disliked the storyline, or I hated all the characters, I just could not grow to love them as would have been possible if the story had been written at a level closer to my own.... As a whole, I did not like the style of writing, but the story line and message were very interesting.

...One of the author’s goals was to make the reader feel sorry and sympathy for the creature, despite its labels of ‘monster’ and ‘murderer’. Shelly was very creative in how she did this; she let the monster close the story with words of regret, accusations, remorse, and apology. She does not give the last words to Waldon, one of the books many protagonists, as one may have expected. Rather than letting Walton stir up emotions against the monster, the creature, the alleged antagonist, gets to plead for the reader’s favor and acceptance once more.

Another goal of the story, or rather the moral, is that some things are just supposed to be left alone, and we incompetent humans will just show how foolish and ignorant we are by trying to seem smart. Shelly makes this very clear. Victor looses his family, his friends, his fortune, and his life over his ‘creation gone wrong’. The only good thing that comes out of it is that Waldon heeds Victor’s warnings and does not force his men into discovering the pass to the Arctic.

This story was not anything like what I had been expecting. The vocabulary was much more extensive than I had anticipated, resulting in a much harder read. Also I was not expecting it to be written as a frame story or as an explorer’s letters to his sister. I had also expected that Victor was an innocent character, and that his creation was a horrible, ruthless villain. Now, after reading the novel, I do not think so. Rather, I would argue that the monster was more of the victim; he had no choice in being created, he had to learn to fend for himself and to live without any outside help. If any child in our world was treated the way Victor treated his creation, it would be considered inhumane, and abusive. The real monster in the story is Victor. For some reason he thinks that it is within his rights to manipulate life and create it on his own. Then he abandons his creation in a very irresponsible way, and later wonders why all these horrible things are happening to him. Victor was the true monster, and because of how he treated his creation it behaved in a very similar matter- taking the matter of life into his own hands. The saying ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ accurately comes to mind.

I honestly did not know much about the story before we read it for school. I had thought it was about some old crazy scientist that sewed up a bunch of corpses together in a revengeful fashion to create a monster, and that this monster could only moan and it eventually became malicious, killing many people in the town and even his creator. Obviously, most of my assumptions were incorrect and half truths and that lead me to have a very interesting reading experience...

In recommending any book to people around me I try to be very careful. I would not recommend this story to my younger siblings because I think it would be too much for them; the plot and the writing style. On the other hand, I would have no problem recommending the book to an eager reader who does not mind reading very meticulously and who would be able to comprehend what goes on. I would recommend Mary Shelly’s novel to only a prepared reader who is up for a challenge.

The plot was intriguing, the writing style was different and compelling, the story took a few expected turns, and a few that were not expected. As a whole I did not mind it as much as I had originally thought I would. But my opinion on school books remains the same: I passionately hope that someday I will not have to search for books on my own to find some with happy endings.


Sarah M. said...

I've been tempted to re-read this book, but knowing how depressing it is... well, I just haven't.

I "read" this about 10 years ago. I listed to the entire book on tape while commuting to/from work. I don't recall any big words... but then it was 10 years ago... so I probably forgot them -- or it probably was that since the book was read it didn't cause me to stumble as I would reading. At any rate, I applaud you for reading this intimidating novel. Good review.

Noël De Vries said...

Ooo, you're reading Lord of the Flies. Another depressing book, but a brilliant one, in my opinion. Speaks volumes on innate goodness vs. sinful nature and communistic societies and utopian hopes ... this one's worth it, Marie.

Look at it this way: the panel behind the lit. choices knows that some kids would never pick up these novels without school prompting. And so they prompt, and you read your own comfy favorites on your own time. It's public education. It's just the way it has to be when you have dozens of kids to plan for. Not saying you shouldn't speak up when a book seriously bothers you. But Frankenstein IS a classic. Someday you'll be glad you read it... the themes are far-reaching.

Cheers, my dear cousin!

Nicole said...

Sarah, sometimes I just glossed over the big words and just assuming what they meant, but when my english teacher read to us (yes... my English teacher reads to his 12th grade class) he continually stumbled over words and told us he had no idea what they meant.It would have helped a lot if he at least PRETENDED he knew the words; like listening to it on tape would have. Maybe someday I'll listen to it :)

Noel, I am glad I read a lot on my own or I would probably have a mutilated vision in my head about what all lit. is like. I feel sorry for the kids who now have that paradigm... but they are the ones who probably don't /care/ what they read (or just don't read) :) Thanks for the new way to look at it.

Noël De Vries said...

Um, has your teacher ever taught Frankenstein before? What DO they teach them at these colleges? ;)

Maggie DeVries said...

Yea, Marie always comes home from school, "Ugh. Mr. *******. He drives me crazy!"


Nicole said...

Yes, he has taught it before, he says he really likes it too... :)

Maggie, its not that HE drives me crazy, but I just don't always understand the way he teaches... ya know?