Tuesday, February 24, 2009


I finished reading Frankenstein last night. I am amazed that Mary Shelley was only 19 when she wrote it in 1816. Looking at her book with fresh 'author' eyes, I see a tragic tale defined not so much by circumstance but by characters.

Victor, Henry, Elizabeth, and even Victor's creation are all at first conveyed as innocents. Their purity sets the stage for the diabolical acts that follow. I could go endlessly on, but I've secured my lesson learned. Not all stories mandate an evil villain.

It reminds me of the preacher who tells a joke on Sunday morning. He always garners a response. Often times, the lively response elicited isn't from the content so much as the humor wasn't anticipated in a church service.

Sometimes the scariest of stories need that same offsetting base. The horrible seems worse because we first tasted the goodness, a clearing of the pallet. Mary Shelley gives that in Frankenstein with her goodly characters and to a lesser extent, serene settings.


  1. I enjoyed reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. I agree that the offsetting base adds mightily to the plot... In the 1935 film, THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN Percy Bysshe Shelley and Lord Byron praise Shelley (played by the great Elsa Lanchester) for her creation of the story of the Monster. This unique prologue also sets the stage and adds to the extraordinary film that follows.

  2. We started reading this to my son and it freaked him out big time. Yet he did feel sympathy for the creation.
    Wow - 19. And she totally left her mark on the world!

  3. Hi David -- I'd like to see that. Sad as it is to say, the one that sticks in my mind is the spoof. Alas ...

  4. Hi PJ -- I could see where it'd freak a kid out. I was surprised how contemporary it sounded for the most part.

    I felt sympathy for the creature, too, which I guess adds to the depth of the story. I've read that you don't want a one dimensional villain. Shelley, it seems, accomplished this.

  5. Can you imagine having that kind of talent at 19???

  6. I'm trying to think what I was up to at 19. I just don't think it compares to writing Frankenstein. Ah yes, I was sitting through Engineering classes at college.