Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein went through multiple editions and changes, and the version I read is mostly based on the third edition from 1831 and some text from 1818. I learned that this story originated when Mary Shelley was holed up in a vacation home and the group decided to have a contest to see who could write the scariest story. Shelley was inspired to begin the Frankenstein story on that vacation and work at it through her life.

The novel itself was difficult for me to start due to the slow beginning and archaic language, but once we meet Frankenstein the story is fascinating. Shelley skips a lot of the details on how he created the monster just as Frankenstein skips over his responsibility in the creation. The monster, while feared at first, becomes an intelligent being who just wants what most of us want in life: companionship, love, family. The problem being that he’s a hideous creature from whom everyone runs. He wants to be good. He tries to be good. But the nature of man to fear him, changes him and turns him into the monster that everyone already thinks he is.

Its a very interesting story about how science brings man too close to being God-like, and man cannot handle the responsibility of creating life. Frankenstein immediately runs from his creation, beginning the downward spiral of his life. Shelley allows the reader to feel empathy and compassion to the monster, which Frankenstein cannot, by telling his story of what happened once abandoned by his creator.

This novel has survived for so long due to its originality and also because Shelley is questioning man’s role in the world. Should man strive to be God-life, or should he remain ignorant to protect himself. Its an interesting story told during a time of great scientific and medical breakthroughs, but its still relevant today in the discussion of GMOs. When should man stop interfering with the natural order.

Although difficult to read, I chose to read this since its one of the first horror novels written by a woman. This novel may have been heavily helped by her poet husband, Percy Shelley, but the idea and originality came from Mary Shelley. This book took me much longer to read than most others, but it was worth it.

Read October 2014