Tag Archive: intelligent creature


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


The Myth of Frankenstein


With the many years for the human race to tinker with this iconic story, it’s no wonder that the common interpretation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is radically different from the actual novel. Being slightly familiar with the myth, I never knew the depths of the novel or the deep personal nature and emotional hook of the work. Most adaptations, especially the early (and iconic) film versions, strip away everything but the horror of the creation (including both the Felix-Safie section and the outside frame story). In truth, most of today’s takes on the material follow the 1931 film version of Frankenstein, starring Boris Karloff as the monster. This version invented the most popular image of the monster, with short hair and bolts sticking out of his neck. These features were not described in Shelley’s novel (the monster actually has long, flowing hair by her description), but they have lived throughout the years to be the standard design for “Frankenstein’s monster.”

This version has a lot of influence, but its attempt simplifies the story and takes depth away from the two primary characters: Victor and the monster. In the novel, Victor is a singular figure in the experiments, motivated only by his obsession. In the film and many other adaptations, it’s a collaborative process (usually with a character referred to as “Igor,” who doesn’t even remotely exist in the book). More importantly, Victor experiences instant remorse at his own creation in the novel. The film, and our culture, portrays Victor as a standard mad scientist, screaming “It’s alive” with unbridled enthusiasm when his creation is animated (though, once he sees the strength of the beast, he decides to destroy it). The picture above exemplifies this reduction of his character. In most adaptations, the regret he experiences in the novel is not nearly as apparent. Yes, he regrets the creation once he sees what the monster is capable of, but most versions do not show the degree of his regret and suffering that can be easily shown from the first person perspective.

Another common change from the book to the myth damages the character of the monster. In the film, the monster is mostly silent and uneducated. Both of these decisions betray the depth found in Shelley’s novel. Changing the intelligence of the creature may make him sympathetic as a child or a puppy dog would be, but Shelley’s intelligent monster is a truly tragic character. He reaches out for love from his creator and from any other beings that could give him attention, yet he is only met with scorn. His remorse upon Frankenstein’s dead body shows the pain he has experienced while completing his mission of hatred. However, we the readers experience the horrible treatment of the monster and realize his humanity and the tragedy of his condition. The perspective shift in the middle of the novel gives the work another aspect in its criticism of human nature.

One could write thousands of words about all of the glaring differences between the myth (particularly the popular film versions) and the novel, but I must stop here. Ultimately, the myth of Frankenstein tells a version of the story that somewhat hits thematic bases at the expense of depth in the characters. The worst of these turn a treatise on humanity into a simple horror story.