In my previous post(see here), I was telling you how they wanted us to read David Copperfield but we protested. Well, we’ve been asked to pick a few other books we’d like to read instead of D.C. I’ve been silly enough to say I’d brave Frankenstein, if needed. Just my luck, Frankenstein was the only available option from our list, so I had to actually read it :o. Saying I dreaded starting it is an understatement. I’ve left it for the last 6-7 days when I started reading in a rush, worrying I won’t be able to finish it before our meeting.
Frankenstein is one of those book that you hear so much about, that you believe you actually know the book. I didn’t thought I would actually every read it, I was SO convinced I know everything about it, that I just don’t need to read it too! How silly of me, of course. The first thoughts I had upon starting reading it was: What‘s this?! What does this have to do with Frankenstein (when reading the letters, if you’re familiar with the book) for then to settle on “surprising”. Surprising is the perfect word to describe my experience of reading it. Maybe because of the movie version, I actually expected it to be about the process of creating the creature, and not the whole life story of Frankenstein – which is not the creature, as apparently many believe. The creature itself does not have a name!
Let me first say that, to the happiness of most reader, the book is so much more than the movies. In the introduction to the copy we’ve read, it was mentioned that most movies skip altogether the creature’s point of view, as they do all the moral dilemma debated in the book. Someone actually asked how much different a movie directed by a women would have been. He thought a female director would have made the creature a woman. While that cannot be ruled out in today’s radical feminism, I actually believe a women would have tried to be more truer to the book and we’d have seen more of the moral dilemma of creation and procreation. And this brings to mind Edward Scissorhands. That movie really presents parts of Frankenstein. Frankenstein‘s creature is so eager to learn humans’ ways and be one of them, but he is so horrible that even the kindest of humans have problem accepting him. He doesn’t want to hurt humans but he has the power to do it, and ultimately he needs to hide to get rid of humans – isn’t that pretty much Edward Scissorhands’s story?! I personally thought the destiny of the creature was quite sad. Frankenstein was responsible for its creation. He shouldn’t have rejected him like that, it was immoral and maybe he deserved what he got. Don’t know, it‘s rather complex, as was the creature’s request. The creature had a good argument, and most of the book I just puzzled what would have been better for Frankenstein to do. I did ask in my group what they thought and they sided with Frankenstein, but I still don’t know. I might just be ever the optimist, but maybe, just maybe, a companion would have solved everything so much more peacefully. What‘s your take?
Overall this is a good classic, not overrated in the least. So enjoyable and such a powerful subject. In fact we did talk about the why Mary takes on such an unusual theme for a women writing at that time. We discussed how Shelley must have been a believer in women’s right and how he pushed her to write. We wondered if the science inclination is not her dad’s influence and what would have happened if her mother survived. I highlighter quite a few quotes, but I want to say a few words about 2 of them.
First of them is what I though of as such a poetic description of the decay the human body suffers after death: “I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain.”.
The second one is an ode to balance in all things life. Reading this quote to my group, prompted one of them to say that slavery is such an important aspect in human evolution. That most tinkers and important politic figures wouldn’t have had achieved so much if it wasn’t for slavery, for people doing for them all the small things, leaving them with enough time to just think! (And please don’t equate slavery with black slaves of America!)
“A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquility. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquility of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved, Caesar would have spared his country, America would have been discovered more gradually, and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed.”