Book Review: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
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One of the most iconic horror stories ever written, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has gone on to inspire over fifty movies, television shows, and countless other stories. Written in 1818, and inspired by a haunting dream Shelley had (one dark and stormy night) after accepting a friendly challenge between her husband and her friend to see who could write the best horror story. The setting of the novel was also highly influenced by Shelley’s travels a few years prior, and the story combines the then popular gothic and romantic styles of literature. Frankenstein is also one of the earliest examples of science fiction.
The novel tells the story of the brilliant and eccentric Victor Frankenstein as he runs through a series of experiments in an attempt to discover the secrets of life and death. Eventually, Frankenstein creates a creature through the use of sewn together body parts of human corpses, mixed with a recipe only the mad doctor knows. Realizing the seriousness of what he has done, and unable to deal with the physical, and moral consequences, Doctor Frankenstein banishes the creature and they part ways. During this time, the creature learns of life on his own, before coming back to seek revenge on the man who gave him life, and viciously cast him blindly into the world.
The novel focuses on the moral question of whether or not man has the right to play God, and if he does, to what end is his responsibility? It also raises questions on the existence of the soul,. To what extent it is bound to the human form? Does it even exist? The question of whether or not we are products of our environment, or whether or not we are born good or evil, are also heavy questions raised by Shelley. A chilling, and heart-wrenching tale of obsession, passion, heartache, and horror, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein remains one of the world’s most recognized masterpieces, and one of the most influential novels ever written.
review by jd mcgibney [website]
• Book: Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus
• Author: Mary Shelley
• Publisher: Penguin (January 1, 1818 – Originally)
• Pages: 286
• Language: English
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