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November 2011 Fiction Book: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

(65 Posts)
StewieGriffinsMom Tue 04-Oct-11 20:46:55

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StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Nov-11 21:38:43

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stobes Wed 16-Nov-11 21:39:52

Isn't there a bit in the frame narrative in which it is revealed that Victor rewrote the account, presumably to place himself in a good light? So I guess that calls his reliablility as a narrator into account.

stobes Wed 16-Nov-11 21:42:44

Agree SGM! My sympathies were with the monster; learnt human behaviour is clearly the monstrosity.

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Nov-11 21:44:47

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SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 21:45:28

Gah, MN went dead on me!

I think the monster was more 'humane' (certainly more humble!) than Victor before he was rejected. After he became a killer but I think (?) only killed those loved by Victor - so not an indiscriminate monster.

stobes I remember that bit about Victor editing, am trying to find the exact words...

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Nov-11 21:45:32

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SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 21:47:22

"...he asked to see them and then himself corrected and augmented them in many places, but principally in giving the life and spirit to the conversations he held with his enemy."

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Nov-11 21:47:56

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StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Nov-11 21:48:57

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stobes Wed 16-Nov-11 21:50:06

I still can't get too far past the insipid portrayal of the holier than thou Elizabeth (and Justine, for that matter, and the mother!). Shelley definitely appears to undermine her argument with her beauty (and blonde hair?) held up as the physical manifestation of her goodness. The Nat theatre production (Jonny Lee Miller/ Benedict Cumberbatch etc) cast a black actress in the role which must have been an ironic dig.

SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 21:50:23

I agree re lack of culpability. Victor is all "woe is me, what a wretch to bring this trouble on my family" but it seems very fatalistic, almost as if he was, say, the carrier of a disease to which he but not his family was immune. No sense of, "what can I do to fix this problem I caused?"

StewieGriffinsMom Wed 16-Nov-11 21:51:02

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SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 21:52:00

I agree, stobes. The women are very passive, including the unseen sister of the first narrator - even Justine when being hung for a crime she didn't do!

stobes Wed 16-Nov-11 21:55:32

Yes, Sweet. They are all painfully stoical. Good point about the sister - a passive recipient of a male narrative. I don't remember him asking her how she was getting on in his absence?!

stobes Wed 16-Nov-11 21:58:36

Going back to the triple narrative, I guess there is something in there about controlling or playing God with the listener/ reader's perception. The monster is pretty eloquent in his argument when he wants F to create him a mate.

SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 21:58:37

Stoic and oh so sweet natured!

I wasn't entirely sure how the letters were supposed to reach the sister anyway - Arctic post?!

wildstrawberryplace Wed 16-Nov-11 21:59:19


I always think of Mary Shelley, pregnant (I think she was?) and only 17 as she wrote this (IIRC). All the stuff about creation and birthing takes on a new and more immediate feeling as someone in the process of creating a new life.

SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 22:01:47

Yes, the monster was eloquent there. Perhaps he was a 'man of words' as a further contrast to Victor's 'man of science'. But Victor explained to the first narrator (Richard??) that the monster was foully persuasive (alluding to the temptations of Satan). In fact, the premise of a mate seemed very reasonable, although the 'I will kill your family' negotiating tactic was not!

wildstrawberryplace Wed 16-Nov-11 22:02:13

blimey this is moving too fast for me!

Also thinking that the word "monster" comes from root to reveal or show, and how different this is a gothic novel from the others written by women around this time and just earlier - eg Radcliffe.

This is such a serious book - about the very purposes of life and existence, not just rocking your socks with gothic/erotic thrills.

SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 22:03:02

Hello strawberry - wow, I didn't know that! (should have read SGM's links or just be generally better informed)

stobes Wed 16-Nov-11 22:03:16

There are so many abandoned children wondering about the novel that she must have had a bit of a crisis I think.

SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 22:04:42

I mostly read 20th/21st century stuff so I will look out for some other novels of this period to compare.

wildstrawberryplace Wed 16-Nov-11 22:05:22

I actually think the monster can be read as subconsciously representing the burgeoning female intellectual identity - at first, literally out in the cold and learning by observation (women not educated like men) and then resentful and eventually vengeful and violent.

SweetTheSting Wed 16-Nov-11 22:06:46

Ah, stobes, that is a good point about the comparison of the child rejected by her mother but taken in by Victor's family vs the monster rejected by Victor but then again by the blind man's family.

SenseofEntitlement Wed 16-Nov-11 22:07:01

I think it may be significant that Mary Shelley grew up in the shadow of her parents - her mother died through giving birth to her, and even Percy only started hanging around because he was in awe of her mum and dad. Must give you funny feelings about motherhood and creation, and even feminity.

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