I’m not one for horror movies. I’ve watched very few horror movies in my life, and I barely sat through them! The same goes for horror stories. But to classify Frankenstein as simply a horror novel is doing a huge disservice to the deep emotional themes handled in the book.
The story behind how the novel came to be is interesting in itself. Apparently Mary Shelley had to think up a theme for a horror story, and the idea of Frankenstein came to her in an early morning dream. Of course, there are those who dispute this, but none of that takes away from the magnificence of her novel.
Victor Frankenstein is a kind of ‘mad scientist’ who practically lives in his lab and discovers the magic that gives a human body its life force. He puts together a rather large human body with parts from cadavers and slaughter houses, and uses the knowledge of his magic to breathe life into it. And lo, his creature is born!
This ‘creature’ does not really have a name in the book, although it has come to be referred to as Frankenstein in popular culture. While erroneous, this nomenclature is accepted today, although in the book he is referred to as ‘wretch’, ‘fiend’ and similar unsavory terms. This isn’t surprising, given his yellow skin and gigantic stature that lend to his hideous appearance, and causes his creator, the doctor, to run away as soon as he comes to life.
The kind of names the creature is called would naturally have you believe that he is pure evil. However, by the time you finish the book, your sympathies are likely to turn towards the monster. That’s not to say that you can’t understand the doctor’s predicament. The fact that you respect and understand both of them shows the depth and brilliance of Shelley’s writing.
Frankenstein handles many themes like religion, ethics and basic humanity. But despite its seemingly eerie setting, this is a story that touches your heart and makes you hurt for that wretched, forlorn human-monster wandering in the wilderness.