I am probably one of the few people who have never seen a Frankenstein movie. Not one. I have seen pictures of Frankenstein and for a long time, like many people I assumed Frankenstein was the name of the monster I had seen in the pictures. Usually these pictures portray the monster with an unbecoming hairstyle, sometimes he’s green, sometimes with the bolt in his neck. Somewhere along the line I did learn that Frankenstein was not the monster and that it was a common misconception so I was pleased that I knew at least that much.
Learning more or reading about Frankenstein never appealed to me until this year. I’m glad I read it. I was expecting the book to be more difficult than it was and the story surprised me. It's quite sad and, well, depressing. I love that the book is book-ended with letters. I think it really set the tone or the mood for the book. The introduction is a number of letters written by Robert Walton to his sister Margaret Seville. Robert is the captain of a ship and he’s on a mission to the North Pole. The ship gets stuck in ice and Walton’s letters tell us about this voyage and his emotions while on the ship. Robert soon meets Victor Frankenstein who is traveling by dog sled. Robert is not only surprised to see someone, but helps Victor. Victor is fragile and weak from his journey so Robert invites Victor aboard the ship.
Victor and Robert begin talking and right away, it’s obvious that Victor was not just suffering from the cold, but that he’s incredibly broken and in the greatest depths of despair. After Robert questions Victor out of curiosity and the starvation for friendship, Victor agrees to tell Robert his story on the premise that he is telling it because he doesn’t want Robert to fall into the same traps as him. He wants him to learn from his life, which he considers to be a life of failure.
Frankenstein describes his childhood as very idyllic. He grew up in Geneva and was very close to Elizabeth who is an interesting character because she has several roles. Within the story she becomes a mother figure after Victor’s own mother dies and Victor eventually marries her, so she wore a lot of hats.
Victor goes to University to study Philosophy and Chemistry and becomes obsessed with trying to discover the secret of life. He spends years and years researching and becomes consumed in his research. Eventually, he believes he has the answer, he then spends months making a creature out of old body parts and chemicals. Then, one night his creation comes to life. When Frankenstein sees his monstrous creation he is horrified by him. The monster seems to almost hover over him that night and Frankenstein can’t sleep so he runs out and begins walking the streets. Frankenstein comes across his childhood friend Henry. When he brings Henry back to his apartment, the monster is gone. Instead of being relieved, Frankenstein becomes literally sick by what he has done.
Frankenstein decides that the best thing to do will be to go back home. So he prepares to go back to Geneva but before he leaves, he receives a letter from his father saying that his brother William has been murdered. This is the beginning of many people's demise that cause Frankenstein to feel even more guilty
Frankenstein makes plans to marry Elizabeth, but the threat of the monster looms over him. Because of his fear, he sends Elizabeth away for the night and tells her to wait for him. While Frankenstein waits for the monster to come and kill him he realizes his mistake. The monster was not out to kill Frankenstein, but his new wife. Victor’s father is overcome with grief and dies a short while later. Victor then decides he is going to find the monster and seek revenge. This is when Victor heads north and eventually meets Robert Walton who takes him aboard ship. At this point, we are caught up to where the story started. The story finished with some more letters from Robert to his sister telling what happened to Frankenstein and Frankenstein's creation.
For a book published in 1818, just over 200 years ago, there are so many universal themes in this book. I noticed 11 themes to be quite prevalent, but I’m sure there’s many more. I will include the BookTube video where I talk about this book and all of the themes that I think are still relevant to us today.