Hi, Hey, Hello!
And we are back to our (my) regular Reading Challenge reviews. I can’t promise that all my reviews will now be RC based only but at the moment I have no plans for there to be anymore bonus ones (with the exception of Summer Days and Summer Nights which will probably come up at some point because reading lulls happen and I find short stories help kickstart the want to read again).
Anyway, back to today’s review, it is all about this beauty of a book:
￼I read this book all the way back for GCSE’s about 8/7 years ago (I can’t remember what year it was actually needed) and kind of spent the entire time wishing that I could read almost anything else. And then at some point after I had written a piece of coursework and watched half of the Kenneth Branagh film when I had enough distance from the text I found a newfound appreciation for it. And I gained a huge amount of respect for the author. Mary Shelley. Total literary goddess. Creator of Victor Frankenstein, the most melodramatic person to ever fictionally person.
Good God Victor was a character. And I mean the kind of character that I found myself rolling my eyes more often than not. He created this mess and then proceeded to run away from all his problems and spend a lot of time in bed.
I am trivialising the story massively of course, because as a whole it is kind of (and by kind of I mean completely) a masterpiece. The idea of Man playing God and all the things that that could mean and how that impacts the rest of Frankenstein’s life is a fascinating piece of literature. There are so many things that I have thought and could say about this but if I went down every tangent that was open to me then this review would be very, very long.
Seriously this is the note I made on my phone about all the pages that had something written on them that drew my attention and made me want to write an essay:
I had a lot of thoughts, what can I say (also for the sake of keeping this relatively short, I’m ignoring them all, we don’t need that kind of literature unpacking today).
So here are some of them.
First of all Shelley is a bloody legend for just up and creating a whole new genre of fiction in a world where that was just not on the cards for women and then she just changed the whole game. And then on top of that the story that she created was jut so layered and incredible and something that can and will be talked about for centuries.
The way it is told is interesting. It’s like a story within a story and then another story on top of that when the Creature starts explaining his side of things. That layering is what makes it so complex and beautiful as a tale, and it’s was something that I really enjoyed reading this time around, whereas before that felt like too much of a headache. I mean it also led to some questioning on my part as I was reading it, the main one being how the fuck does Frankenstein remember all of this stuff and just how long is he talking for because honestly it goes for a bit, but for the most part the fact that this was semi epistolary was a great way for this story to be told.
I know I said he was ridiculous, but the characterisation of Frankenstein is actually a stroke of genius. His fascination with knowledge and science ending up being his ultimate downfall is almost like the ultimate self fulfilling prophecy. The way he reacts to what he has created and continues to react as he watches his creation start to destroy his life is actually pretty accurate I imagine. As he is faced with the Creature that he created and forced to acknowledge what he has done and also the shortcomings of his stupidity his descent into a form of madness was so well told and Shelley really did a great job of conveying this through Frankenstein’s own retelling.
Although I will say this, Frankenstein married Elizabeth knowing that the Creature was going to kill her because he hadn’t made good on his plan to give him a mate, so why the hell did he seem at all surprised that the Creature made good on his threat? Can’t help but feel that he brought that element of shit on himself…
Moving onto the Creature though, I think before I found him quite a boring, pointless, unnecessary (which is weird I know, given the plot of the book) and was never really all that invested in him. I didn’t care. This time however, good god. The Creature is just one massive ball of…something. I don’t want to say misunderstood because Shelley shows towards the end of the story that the Creature is very aware that his actions are wrong, but he was definitely dealt a shit hand.
His levels of articulacy never really make all that much sense, but the fact that he has such a great comprehension of language is a fascinating angle to take because it adds to that whole ‘playing God’ thing. The thing that Frankenstein wanted to create was essentially human, but just very disfigured and ‘othered’. And alone. My goodness is he alone. When he talking to Frankenstein and talking about how it felt to live knowing that his creator had outright rejected him was almost heartbreaking. It causes this weird conflict as a reader because on the one hand you can sympathise with the Creature because he is so desperately alone and you don’t want him to be but then you also cannot justify, and nor can Frankenstein (probably thankfully), creating another one just for the sake loneliness. Shelley does this clever thing of adding human qualities to this Creature even though it is clearly not human. She makes the conflict all the greater with that very fact and it’s sheer genius.
I could honestly go on and on and on about this book. There are just so many layers that i haven’t come close to unpacking yet. I could write another 1,000 words on the stunning language and imagery that is created through Shelley’s writing style and probably accidentally end up quoting the whole book, but I’ll leave it at that. Her writing style made this story she created so vivid, so great, so hauntingly beautiful. It is through this writing style that you can see why the literature game was changed by this book.
I don’t necessarily subscribe to the belief that there is a massive list of classics that a reader has to read in order to be considered well read or whatever. However I will say that this is one of those books that has to be read and appreciated in some capacity.
Parentheses count: 7. See you tomorrow!
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