The novel is told through an epistolary form by the letters of Captain Walton to his sister. Walton is on an exploration at the North Pole while his ship gets trapped in ice. This is where he encounters Victor Frankenstein who is in a state of starvation and emaciation. Frankenstein reveals a strange and horrifying story of how he created a monster which eventually leads to his own misery. As a young boy, Frankenstein was obsessed with science and its natural wonders. Later at a University in Germany, while studying chemistry and galvanism, he discovers the secret of incorporating life into inanimate objects. Contradictory to what victor expected, his creation turns out to be a ghastly figure, so hideous that Victor turns his face away from it and falls ill for many days. Two years later, he receives a letter from his father saying that his younger brother William has been murdered. Since a necklace belonging to William was found with the nanny, Justine, she is falsely accused and executed. Later, upon seeing the monster in the woods where his brother was murdered, Frankenstein is convinced that it is the monster's doings. The monster is faced with repulsion and hatred from every human he encounters and as a result is filled with contempt for its creator. The rest of the story is the monster’s revenge on his creator for subjecting him to a life of humiliation, loneliness and rejection. Though revengeful and murderous, the monster, upon seeing his creator dead mourns for him and decides to burn himself to death for life is far more painful than death for such a creature.
The setting of the novel is in Europe in the 19th century. Frankenstein is a Gothic novel with an element of romanticism. The romantics believed that the ways of nature is best as it is, and to change it would be to corrupt it.
Mary Shelley’s writing style is highly descriptive with a complex vocabulary. There are multiple narrators involved; Captain Walton, Victor, and the monster itself, but mainly the novel is told in the form of an epistolary where the story is told through Walton's letters to his sister.
It is a tale of a murderous and revengeful monster that is a result of a biological experiment. To me the monster’s want for affection and companionship, the rejection and humiliation he faces because of his ugliness, was heart breaking. In spite of the monster’s doings, I found myself sympathizing with it rather than its merciless creator who is to blame for subjecting the monster to a life of misery. The book was a satisfying read and I’ll recommend it to anyone who enjoys horror or science fiction novels.
Book Reviewed by Hala Hassan
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