Frankenstein: or the Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley is told through a series of letters from 28-year-old Robert Walton to his sister Mrs. Saville. While Robert is on an exploration in the Arctic ocean, he happens upon Victor Frankenstein and a single sled dog upon a float of ice.
Victor is from Genovese, the eldest son of an important family who discovered a way to create the spark of life in inanimate bodies, from whence came all of his woes which he recounts to Roberto who then records the story for his sister.
Frankenstein’s creation is amazingly sensitive and fluent in German, French and English having taught himself by spying on different people he encounters. He manages to dress himself and forage for edibles without any difficulty at all. When the monster, who is never given a name, first speaks, I was astounded by the femininity of his speech.
The creature begs Victor to create a companion for him to end his loneliness. When he refuses, the being exacts revenge by attacking Victor’s family and friends. In the end, despite the atrocities he committed, my sympathy was ever for the creation and not the creator.
The author’s own life was as pitiable as the monster’s. Her mother died shortly after Mary was born. She ran off with Percy Blythe Shelley, who was already married, at the age of 15. Mary herself lost several infants in quick success as she was writing Frankenstein, only one child surviving to adulthood. Her older sister commited suicide. Shelley’s wife also commited suicide, allowing the couple to finally marry. And then, Mary was widowed at 24 when Percy drowned. Is it any wonder that the monster speaks with such painful eloquence?
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