Monday, May 31, 2010
I finished reading Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and let me tell you, IT WAS PAINFUL.
If you've never read it, then I can say you don't know "Frankenstein." I didn't. Thought I did, but was mistaken.
You probably know that the monster himself had no name. Frankenstein is the name of the man who created the monster; Victor Frankenstein. This I knew.
Did you know that the book does not describe him as green? He doesn't have bolts in his neck. He not mute. He eventually learns to speak beautiful English. The book never describes how the monster is made. There is no Igor, no lightning, no storm. The section in the book that describes the actual creation? About one paragraph and it never gives details. Mrs. Shelley didn't describe it at all.
Everything you learned about the monster, you've learned from the movies and comics.
The book was frustrating. It was written in the Gothic style. I'm not a fan. I find Gothic writing slightly silly. Call me 21st Century Jaded. It was also written as letters from a random man named Robert Walton to his sister. He's on an expedition to the north pole on a ship, and is writing letters to her about his travels, what he wants to accomplish, his thirst for science.
On his way north, he & the crew literally run into a man on a sled almost dead. Eventually they discover it is Victor Frankenstein. When his health recovers a little, Victor relates his life story to Robert Walton, who is telling it to his sister. (Letter to sister, from Robert, telling the story told to him by Mr. Frankenstein.)
Victor's story is loooong and detailed. The kind of details that numb the brain; descriptions of the trees and the mountains and the animals and fish in the stream on his walks. Victor goes to London to study science, and the telling of his creation of the monster lasts all of one paragraph Then we do not hear of the monster for two years. TWO years! Victor was so scared of the monster, he ran from the apartment for a day or two and when he came back, it was gone. Rather than tell the police what he did, he decides that he doesn't want anyone to know what he's created and think him crazy, so he says nothing. Two years, and all we hear about is that Victor is sick and his nerves are shot and I am bored to tears.
Eventually we meet back up with the monster once the monster kills Victor's young brother and frames a household maid/friend in the murder. Victor heads home, knowing who did it.
He eventually meets the monster who begs Victor to listen to his story. The monster is talking..eloquently. None of this "Guuuuuhhhhh" and "Mmmmmmuhhh" from the movies. Full-on flowery speechifying.
So now we have the monster telling Victor the story of what has has happened to him in the past two years. Robert's sister is reading the story being told to Robert by Victor and now we are hearing the story of the monster as told to Victor, as told to Robert, as told to his sister in a letter. Are you seeing the annoyance? It gets BETTER in that it gets worse than that.
The monster tells of the horrible confusion he first lives in, not knowing who he is, what anything is, of people being evil to him because of his looks. He hides in a forest and eventually spies a poor but loving family in the woods. Then the monster hears the heart wrenching story of this family through the window as the grown son tells it to everyone in the house (who has lived the story, so why is he even saying it in the house?)
Robert's sister is reading the tale from her brother being told to him by Victor, telling him about the monster, who is relating to Victor the telling of a story from random family in a cottage about the lives of random cottage people. How many steps removed are we now? Four? Five?
ARGH! Enough already!!
I didn't care who lived or died at this point.
I was happy it was over. I was interested in knowing that all I knew about Frankenstein was made-up Hollywood poppycock, but man, was I glad I was done reading this one.