Hey guys! Time for a Spooktober Discussion!
This is actually my first time doing a book discussion, I mean...last time I tried to do it, it was more like a reaction! I thought that it would be fun to discuss the classics I'm reading for Spooktober, because I'm hoping some of you guys might be reading them too and have some thoughts to share!
My first classic for Spooktober, was Frankenstein! I've been meaning to get to Frankenstein for ages, but just never gotten around to it! I've always wanted to read it because Frankenstein is kind of everywhere, movies, tv shows, books, and various other adaptions, not to mention the creature is a fixture of Halloween and well known!
Actually, I've gotta hit you guys with my first question to discuss....the creature...do we call it the creature, or the monster?
I don't know about you but I feel kind of bad calling it a monster, but creature seems a bit mean too! I keep finding myself referring to it as, well...it. Which isn't great either! Much like Frankenstein, his creation is morally ambiguous too, so I found myself in turns feeling bad for him and then kinda disliking him a bit too! Either way I feel bad for calling him a monster!
ANYWAY. I picked up Frankenstein and I was fully prepared to have all my pre-concieved notions about the book completely obliterated. About all I knew for sure was that Frankenstein was the doctor, not the creature and that was it! Everything else was most likely not true, like I had an image of a green guy with neck bolts floating in my mind until the description! I watch Once Upon a Time and the Dr. Frankenstein in that is very different, as is his story, to what happens in the book. I was kind of intrigued to see various portrayals had changed the story, and what had been added. Like there was no "It's aliiiiiiiveeee!" which I was waiting for, but not really expecting to be there, and there was no Igor either! I'm curious as to how Igor got added, anyone know where he sprang from?
I actually remember when I was younger, watching some black and white version of Frankenstein that was on TV, probably for Halloween, and there was lightening and a castle and the monster running through a crowd with pitchforks and I kinda assumed that was the correct adaption, not to mention I pretty much associated lightening and castles with Frankenstein, but it was more snowy mountains and college! There was still lightening though, which was great for me because I hate lightening so it made the atmosphere creepy for me! What did you guys know of/associate with Frankenstein before you read it? What was your mental image?
As I was reading the book, I actually enjoyed having all these little mental images that I had destroyed! And thanks to the book I won't be looking out windows at night now! As I started to read, I was curious because I wanted to see how it was originally told, and while it took me a couple of pages to get my brain to engage with the language, I got more hooked in to the story. You have Frankenstein's side, then the monster's and then the endless pursuit with some murdering and creepiness thrown in! I will freely admit that most of the science stuff went straight over my head! Reading Frankenstein was kind of a strange experience for me because each time I saw the word/name Frankenstein, I got a little jolt because it's a name that has such huge connotations to it. It's well known for said previously mentioned green dude with neck bolts! It was an odd sensation and I can't describe it accurately but yeah...it was a strange experience! I couldn't help but wonder what people thought of it when it was first published and the name Frankenstein hadn't been built up!
There's a particular passage in the book that I enjoyed, where the creature is lurking about watching a family, and it was an interesting look at daily human lives and interactions from the creatures point of view, who basically has no knowledge of anything because good ol' Dr. Franky couldn't be bothered to teach his creation. He learns from the family. I knew something bad was going to happen though, especially when the poor guy wanted to reveal himself to them, I was like...this is so not going to end well dude!
I actually felt really sorry for the creature for the majority of the book, he didn't ask to be made, and then he was abandoned by his creator who was essentially his father. He's feared and reviled by every human he meets and he's completely miserable. But at the same time, he probably shouldn't have killed Frankenstein's brother before asking him for a favour. He let anger get the best of him but then he didn't really know any better did he? No-one taught him about controlling his anger, or trying to understand the humans point of view that he comes across. And then to be fair...no-one gave the creature a chance did they? He feels like it's the only way he has to act. I felt so much compassion for the creature, although it was tested a time or two by his behaviour but at the same time...I kinda understood him.
Frankenstein, I'm still not too sure about him. In the beginning I was intrigued by him, then he went all mad scientist and then towards the end I felt for him a little but at the same time..he kind of brought it on himself by being a crappy person. Although my edition had an interesting essay in the back about how Frankenstein and his creation are intertwined that changed the perception I had of him while reading when I thought back. My problem with Frankenstein is that he insisted on making his creature while on some sort of sick power trip, he was trying to play God or whatever, and then he totally freaks out and runs away like a coward when his creation doesn't turn out how he wanted. Like a child who gets given a toy they didn't want, rather than the one they did, he just tossed it away. He didn't help his creation at all, didn't teach him anything, he kind of even forgot about him and left him to fend for himself.
I'd also like to point out the interesting contrast in the way Justine is treated and the way Frankenstein is treated when they're both on trial for murder. There was little proof that Justine actually committed the murder, and we all know she didn't do it anyway. Yet no-one would stand up for her, because she was a servant or because she was a woman or both. Whereas Frankenstein is well cared for and his father is sent for before his trial. They made an effort to mount a defence for him. The justice system isn't shown to be the best really. Neither is ambition or the need to mess with things that shouldn't be messed with, the book provides quite the warning.
When I started to read the book, it opens with letters and I kind of assumed that they where from Frankenstein and he changed his name when he made his creation or something, and I saw the words "I long for a friend" or whatever it was, and I was like "oh here we go!" but as I read the book I couldn't help but think that would have at least made me feel for Frankenstein more, you could relate to that need for a friend, for human contact, which is something his creation feels deeply. Whereas Frankenstein just creates him because of his ambitions and said previously mentioned power trip! I felt like he kind of wanted someone to just worship him, but because it didn't turn out how he wanted, he blamed the creature as if it was his fault!
Either way, Frankenstein was a great Halloween read due to it's dark atmosphere, and it makes you think about many different subjects as you read, there are many lessons to be learned. Frankenstein curses himself because of his ambitions and he curses his creation to what is quite frankly, a really crappy life, as he tries to find a purpose in a world that won't accept him. I can't say the book terrified me as much as it would have people of the time, but I did find the book to have an air of creepiness to it (hello window scene!) and I also find the idea of someone taking it upon themselves to play God in such a way mildly scary, but the book mostly made me feel sad. Sad for the creature most of all and at times sad for Frankenstein himself. Frankenstein resonated with me, and it's a book I'll end up re-reading thanks to Shelley's writing and story-telling, imagery and the emotion she evokes when you read!
What did you guys think of the book?
How did the creature make you feel?
"But now misery has come home, and men appear to me as monsters thirsting for each other's blood."
"I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling."
"We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.We rise; one wand'ring thought pollutes the day."
"Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change."
"Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful"
"If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!"