Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – Reviewed by Guy Portman
Protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a Geneva based student obsessed with scientific endeavour. Victor creates an eight-foot tall animated being out of human cadaver parts. Shortly after its completion the monster flees from his residence. When Victor’s young brother William is murdered, he is acutely aware that his creation is responsible. By the time Victor locates the monster in the Alps, it has evolved into a verbose creature with a keen intellect, capable of communicating how rejection has culminated in its hatred of mankind. The monster demands that Victor create it a female companion, threatening consequences if this does not occur.
Victor, having refused his creation’s wish, follows the retributive, murderous monster on a coincidence rife journey that takes in Switzerland, London, Scotland, Lake Como and finally Greenland, where our protagonist is rescued by a ship, from which he recounts his tale of woe.
Published in 1818, Frankenstein is lauded by many as being the first science fiction story ever written. Viewed through the eyes of its eighteen-year-old author, this is a romantic perception of the world, replete with detailed descriptions and ornate prose, including forty-four occurrences of the word ‘countenance’.
Frankenstein is a cautionary tale about how nature, though essentially good, can be corrupted. The story can also be viewed as a warning of the dangers of scientific advancement, and the terrible price it can exact.