Category: Frankenstein: The Novel vs. the Myth (8/29)


Dear students,

No blog posts will be due this week or the next one.  I have included the close reading guidelines that we reviewed in class today.

Five close reading guidelines:

  1. Identify narrative voice, style, and form.
  2. Look for irony, paradox, ambiguity, and tension.
  3. Note those words or phrases that seem odd or out-of-place.
  4. Note any important symbols, motifs, and themes.
  5. Is there anything missing from the text that should be there?

 

 

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As a child, we were all told that Frankenstine was a big green monster who roams around with all the other monsters we were told about.  The one actually called Freankestine was his creator and he was the actual monster for leaving his living creation in his apartment building and letting it roam around. Upon reading Mary Shelly’s novel about Frankenstine I started to notice that he wasn’t what everyone said he would be. In this novel, it really changed my mind on how Frankenstine is view nowadays.

In chapter 12 of Mary Shelly’s novel, the monster shows his caring side which no one ever talks about and shows his feelings to the cottages by getting them firewood as quoted, “I discovered also another means through which I was enabled to assist their labors. I found that the youth spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire; and, during the night, I often took his tools, the use of which I quickly discovered, and brought home firing sufficient for the consumption of several days” (Shelly 102). When this came up on my reading I was shocked because I didn’t believe how I would not hear anybody talk about anything good about the monster. This is showing how the society is having TV manipulations leave the images they see embedded into their heads and recognizing the truth about things.frankenstein-2

– Marco Hidalgo

By: Maya Carranza

When hearing the name “Frankenstein” people automatically think of a big, green monster that was created in a lab by a mad scientist. But upon reading Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, that misconception was debunked. In reality, the creature was nameless all throughout the book and the name Frankenstein was the surname of the scientist, Victor Frankenstein.

While reading this book, I realized that the real monster was not the nameless creature but actually Victor Frankenstein. The definition of the word monster is defined as “an inhumanly cruel or wicked person” which is exactly what Frankenstein was. Shelley illustrates the image of the “monster” as a sensitive and emotional creature, who only wants to share his life with another creature like him. On the other hand, the creature’s creator abandons him due to the hideous sight of him. Frankenstein’s selfish actions led him to create life to achieve prominence but did not think about the feelings or wants of his creation. Frankenstein was also cruel to the monster when he told him that he would create a companion for him, giving him false hope. This neglect and mistreatment from the start led him down a wrong path. As a result, it gave people the misconception that the creature was the monster but if Frankenstein would have never deserted his own creation then the creature would have never hurt or killed anyone.

To conclude, while reading Frankenstein my assumptions about the book were questioned. Not only did I learn that the creature’s name is not Frankenstein but that he was not a monster at all but merely the victim of abuse and neglect.

Image result for frankenstein incubus

By: Jade Graham

I first saw the painting above in my AP English Literature and Composition class around this time last year. Painted by Henry Fuseli in 1781, The Nightmare was presented to me as a cautionary tale. Shelley herself was influenced by Fuseli’s work used as a symbol for the monster within everyone. The creepy incubus next to the also creepy horse is known as a demon that craves sex and preys on women as a whole. The idea of having Elizabeth as Victor’s wife (or whatever you would like to refer her as) being portrayed as pure, innocent, wearing white, and a nice formal girl: a perfect target for an incubus. Now, not to say that an incubus does appear in Frankenstein however it does connect to Elizabeth’s death. Her similar pose and the monster killing her does relate to The Nightmare.

As for my previous conceptions about Frankenstein and the myths surrounding it, I only knew that the monster was bad and that a crazy guy created him. Only until I read the book in high school did my whole perspective change. The 1931 movie adaption with this clip:

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was wrong. Victor is horrified in the novel and regret sets it. The reader can feel bad for both Victor and the creature, and for good reasons too. But in the end, Frankenstein is many things including a cautionary tale. The idea of greed, desire, fame, all led to destruction, murder, and chaos. Victor chose to dig up body parts and create something that was never meant to be created. He and Walton are examples of not only men but people who cross the line. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should always do it.

 After reading Mary Shelley, Frankenstein, I realized that I’ve been misinformed this whole time! For many years I thought Frankenstein was this horrible green monster who killed village people and had no feelings, but after reading the novel I realized Frankenstein is not the monster but in fact the scientist who created this creature. Mary Shelley’s novel definitely challenged my preconception of the Frankenstein myth and now I acknowledge that a picture does not always depicts the true image of a person and the characteristics of the inner part of a person.

Throughout the novel I was expecting horror and fear, whereas I felt empathy and pity for Frankenstein’s creature since all this creature ever wanted was longing to be accepted somewhere in this world. I felt that it was the other way around instead of the creature being the monster I felt Victor Frankenstein was the monster in this case because he neglected his creation, denied it companionship, and took no responsibility for the chaos his creature unleashed in his town. Often it seemed that the creature was more human than its creator.  I learned that Frankenstein was more than an illiterate monster, but rather an articulate, intelligent human inside a deformed monstrous humanlike creature.

 

Guadalupe Andrade

Upon reading Mary Shelly’s novel Frankenstein, I held various images and judgements about this story. For example, the creature is created by scientist Victor Frankenstein and possesses no exact name, which is a common misconception prior to reading Shelly’s work. Throughout one’s childhood, one is introduced to this creature as a wild, inhumane monster who has no true perspective on the world and lives blindly. This perception is quickly debunked after reading the novel, for Frankenstein’s creation holds his own perspective on what the world around him is, and understands the dangers which lie within societies.

Furthermore, the audience is forced to empathize with this “monster”, who is more human than we would like to admit. The audience comes to the realization that this creature possesses human qualities, which allows the reader to relate to the emotions felt by this creature. Frankenstein’s human-like creation is viewed as a being with no true intuition or internal morals, but we soon realize the creature contains the same characteristics that humans do. Although Frankenstein’s creation has the ability to react and live like a civilized individual, he is soon forced to become involved in dangerous acts of violence and destruction. These actions take place as a result of his daunting physical appearance and abnormal size, which makes the “monster” unable to conform to normal standards of living within a society. Prior to reading Shelly’s work, people are led to believe that the creature is innately cruel and evil, when in reality he is only reacting to the judgements and cruelties of society in the only way he knows how. Without being properly taught the rules and intricacies of civilization, the creature displays his anger and frustration through inhumane acts of physical violence, which ultimately leads to the death of his creator, Frankenstein.

After reading Shelly’s novel, I clearly see the misconceptions about this story and how society has shaped people’s perspectives of the “monster”. The creature is depicted and illustrated in a way that does not accurately represent the intentions and true desire of the creature. Through this novel, I have created my own conclusion about this creature and understand his actions towards the individuals in his life.

-Cathryn Flores

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Before being introduced to Mary Shelley’s novel “Frankenstein” I had, what seems to be very common, misconceptions of the story about the creature. The first and most commonly incorrect held belief has to do with the name mishap that exists about “Frankenstein” itself. Growing up, and up until very recently, I believed that the creature himself was named Frankenstein when in reality, that is not the case. The reality is that the scientist who conjured up the being and brought him to life is named Victor Frankenstein and the creature himself has no given name. I held this idea for a very long time and was only corrected due to the reading of the novel and it came as a big surprise when I learned the truth. I realized that if something so simple and such a small detail could have been greatly altered and lead to such a long-time held misconception, then there was bound to be many other myths I was exposed to about the creature and the story of “Frankenstein”.

Aside from simply misnaming him all of these years, there were greater misconceptions that I held regarding his characteristics. As a child, I was exposed to the representation of the creature that mainstream media portrayed and created. I watched films and cartoons that mislead me to view Victor Frankenstein’s creation in a completely opposite manner than how Mary Shelley had written him to be. Before engaging with the novel, I held the belief that because the creature was created through science and in a laboratory – through the use of electricity – that he was a soulless being with the inability to care for others or have a necessity for love. However, in the novel we learn that Frankenstein’s creation longs to feel accepted, loved, and grows to feel isolated and alone in the world. For someone who always believed that such a creature was incapable of having any feelings, I grew to sympathize with the creature through the novel when I learned that he grows to long for a companion in the world so he would not have to face it alone – a very human being characteristic that I never expected him to posses. Rather than the soulless creature every platform of the media portrayed him as, it was interesting, and rather nice, to find out that in reality Dr. Frankenstein’s creation was capable of feeling and that the audience was capable of sympathizing with the monster.

In addition, I think the greatest long-held misconception I had about the monster was regarding the idea that he was an uneducated and unintelligent creature. However, through Mary Shelley’s novel I learned that he educates himself and soon enough, has vocabulary and knowledge as advanced and eloquent as his genius creator. In all of my years before reading the novel, I always had a misbelief of the creature being unintelligent and incredibly dense. The cartoons I watched always portrayed him as something that was unable to conjure an intelligent thought or even form a coherent sentence and I actually found it somewhat refreshing to find out that was not the case. When I read the novel and discovered that the creature was rather intelligent and had a very sophisticated way of speaking and thinking, it shifted my perspective and point of view that I held about this creature for such a long time before the reading of the novel. This, along with the other debunked myths, made me realize that Mary Shelley designed this creature to have more human qualities than one would imagine. What Shelley’s novel taught me is that the creature is extremely man-like and holds just as much knowledge and potential as an ordinary human being and therefore, is just as dangerous as mankind.

-Beverly Miranda

By: Leena Beddawi

In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, readers are told an emotional tale of self-discovery, one that arguably seems more human than the average coming-of-age story found ever so innovative. This has to do with the fact that this was an entirely new way to delve into the intersections of the human experience, bringing science and philosophy together, and how that contributes to the development of said characters as well as how one perseveres anything they find “other” to their “normal” as a barbaric way of thinking and feeling. In reality, the creature merely wanted to be understood, accepted, and loved.

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You take this novel at pure face value, humans began placing somewhere among the horror/thriller section, merely because it contains a “monster” who has a path of destruction in his wake almost anywhere he goes. In reality, when we hear the actual perspective of said monster, we see all the misconceptions our culture has strewn onto us.

This novel is not that of a horror or thriller, but a tale of one’s journey to self and environmental consciousness. The creature taught themselves everything through watching people live their daily lives, from simple to complex; such as acceptance, tolerance, hatred, language, empathy, economic inequality, power dynamics, social standards, and even gender roles.

One of the most touching parts of the creature’s story, for me, is when they first encounters a painful bone-chilling cold, and when the sun began to shine down upon them, however “surprised by the novelty of such sensations… [they] still dared to be happy”(186).

Before reading this book, the only idea I had of it was what the myth or legend was told, that Victor Frankenstein was a mad scientist who went rouge and started creating this big, and sub-human. This pre-conception of the misconstrued maverick has almost everything to do with the subconscious attitude we still have over people who do not look exactly “normal” in a very subjective opinion.

Truly, the deeper we get to know the creature Frankenstein created, the more we feel ourselves projected onto them, almost as if we are all still learning and growing as individuals all the same, while some only get a different reaction due to their own physical appearance, rather than what is in their hearts.

Upon a night such as this, years ago in the past, if I were tasked to conjure up an image for the fictional being known as “Frankenstein”, the image would be that as based on Boris Karloff in his performance in the 1931 film: a creature of flesh and technology, blood and electricity flowing within the frame of  intense stature. I would have imagined the creature walking as stiff as death, joints locked in Rigor Mortis with arm reaching out in full length and legs thumping and shaking the Earth with each forced step. The Creature would force its way into the lives of its victims to fulfill some deep hatred towards his creator and those of his species. My old imaginings of the were those of the monster that had been shown to me my whole life, one that painted that foul beast in a light from the deepest burnings of hellfire.

Upon reading the text of which my original understanding of the idea was founded on, however, I was surprised to learn the true nature of how the Monster was supposed to appear: a divine creature that was created to look as beautiful as man was supposed to be made as when the Lord had bestowed his image unto the Earth; a large frame that would be made ugly after being bestowed life. The creature was one that desired to be loved and accepted, but scorned by the one that had constructed him. I wish there was a more happy fate for which that fallen creature could have endured, but to see that he was disowned by his creator due to his hideousness and imperfect disposition, I see now that the version of which I have consumed all my life is a version that strips the creature of the Human qualities and immortalizes him as only a monster that thirsts for a vengeance that can never be sated.

Through revelation, I see that the creature presented within the novel is one of perplexing constitution and character of which paints the creature in a light of humanity that cannot be exhibited in any other way than that which was before the Original Sin of Adam and Eve. Yet, through exile by creator and kin, he becomes a monster not by choice but by circumstance and becomes the villain he is made out to be. The tragedy of the Created Man is one that we are not shown because it would generate thoughts that would make us questions ourselves, so it is through the monstrous version of the beast that we shown in which we become infantilized to the truth of depth of human nature.

I for sure am glad for the reveal of the true character of Frankenstein’s creature so that I have a greater understanding on the nature of man.

-Alejandro Joseph Serrano

Stories are meant to be shared with others. They are meant to travel from one audience to the next and captivate new groups of people. That is the entire purpose of a story: to be told. The issue with that is that time and again stories are not shared exactly as they were heard the first time because people can be forgetful. Person A will share the story with Person B and when Person B gets around to telling Person C they forget some of the details so they embellish the story a little bit. When Person C inevitably shares with Person D the story is no longer the same as it was when Person A originally shared it. Oral storytelling is like that and written storytelling participates in this same pattern. When a screenplay writer is adapting a novel, no matter how true to the original it is, or claims to be, this adaptation is exactly that: an adaptation. It is now the original novel plus the interpretation of the novel from the screenplay writer’s perspective. Some of the details have changed and initially it isn’t noticeable.

With the story of Frankenstein it becomes abundantly clear the myth arises perhaps from constant re-imaginings of the original tale. People continued to build off the different adaptations instead of the original and perpetuated different misunderstandings. The Creature has a name and it is Frankenstein instead of being nameless as it originally is in the novel. The Creature is a mindless zombie-like sort of monster instead of a well-read and highly intellectual being. Victor quite clearly zaps his creation to life with lighting and it is a huge spectacle when in reality that part of the story is overshadowed by Victor’s realization of what he has brought to life. These are just some of the most common misunderstandings that have arisen from the constant re-imaginings.

So, this novel having gone through so many different adaptations has rendered the original work almost lackluster and not thrilling enough when put beside some of the most outrageous adaptations. The wild difference between the two versions is what threw me off the first time I read Frankenstein all the way through. For me, I realized just how different the original novel was from the media-distorted version in my senior year of high school. This will be my fourth time reading Frankenstein so I am well aware of how vastly different the myth and the actual story are. After having read it a few times the answer for me is what I have said above. The myth is so different because people have retold this story countless times and so much has been lost in translation that many details at this point have been added to make the story as equally if not more dramatic than the original. Additionally, to a modern audience that is used to flashy drama that leaves you gasping for breath the original’s twists and turns don’t seem shocking enough. It seemingly pales in comparison. However, I find that I like the original story more than the myth because it is more subtle and it is about so much more than another run of the mill monster tale, which up until reading had been my idea of Frankenstein. I am pleased to find that my preconceptions of Frankenstein were so vastly incorrect because I hadn’t cared enough for Frankenstein prior to reading it through.

Which leads me to the image I chose out of the collection of images posted in the blog prompt. I chose the following image because I think it is a good medium between the original story and the many adaptations that created an entirely different myth. It shows the Creature as imperfect, ugly in spite of the intentions for it to be beautiful, and perhaps even monstrous. It also shows Victor, the creator and the other half of this entire narrative, that generally is forgotten in the midst of the Creature’s horrific antics. It also hints at the Creature’s uncertainty in itself and Victor’s initial fear by both their expressions and Victor’s exiting figure in the image. It speaks to the subtle dynamics of the original that have been lost while also maintaining that there is something inherently not good, not human about the story. Which is why I think it is the most fitting image for what Frankenstein was and what it has become: a story with more to it below the surface or in this case below the book cover. (#ReadFrankensteinTheNovel)

By Diana Lara

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