Here it is a short but very well made video in which two people, a writer and a biographer, introduce the important figure of Mary Shelley analyzing her personal life, her carrier and finally her biggest work "Frankenstein".
So, the most important aspect that we can infer from the viewing of this video is about the fact that Mary Shelley founded the science fiction and the way she built the charachters, as the entire novel too, was mainly affected by her personal life: the terrible relationship with her step-mother, the death of her mother, the feeling of being an out-cast, the pregnancy when she was only sixteen and her baby's death are only some of her misfortunes, which made this girl thinking she was a curst, dogged by death. For this reason she believed there was anything bad in giving life and this is what we find in her "Frankenstein".
Frankenstein is a gothic novel. Gothic novels focus on the mysterious or supernatural; take place in dark, often exotic, settings; and yield unease if not terror in their readers. Some literary critics also consider Frankenstein the first science fiction novel, which was based on Luigi Galvani's experiments with electricity because this Italian anatomist studied how this form of energy could bring dead people back to life. Mary Shelley knew about this sort of great studies and she took inspiraton from them in her writing. However, could she imagine that her novel would be still contemporary in the century we live nowadays? Personally, I do not think so! Yet, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, (this was her real name), with her masterpiece anticipated what electricity is doing also today, in the twentieth century: everyday in fact we are repeatedly bombarded by news concerning with discoveries in the field of technology and, of course, electricity. Then, "Frankenstein" is not to be considered a simple morbid novel, but a profetic story in which we as readers find the onset of scient fiction as well as of modern elements.
frankensteinproject.wordpress.com/galvanism-and-scientific-discovery/ this is a web page which I discovered to be very useful because there is the important in-depth analysis of the connection between the influence of Galvanism with the novel.
but...what is Frankenstein about?
Dr. Frankenstein is a brilliant scientist, who is obsessed with the idea of gaining control over life and death, refusing the limits of contemporary science. He carries out his research alone until he eventually succeeds in bringing to life a monster he has created out of the organs of dead men. However, even Frankenstein is frightened when he sees the fruit of his insane fantasy. The monster escapes from the laboratory and appears some time later in the Swiss Alps, where he is rejected by all the men that he encounters, not so much for his ugliness as for his clearly non-human features. His desire of communication with others is deeply frustrating and his anger towards all mankind builds up leading to a tragic climax in his killing of Frankenstein's best friend, his little brother and his wife. The monster takes refuge at the North Pole knowing that only there, in a place of total desolation he will kill no more. Dr Frankenstein follows him, intending to kill his creation but it is the doctor himself who is mortally wounded by the monster. He accuses Dr Frankenstein and the rest of mankind of lacking all compassion. The story ends with the monster being carried away on an ice raft in the Arctic sea.
What is somehow peculiar in this novel is its narrative structure. Mary Shelley seems to demonstrate to be a great writer also to this point: the lots of flashbacks developed during the all plot make the story more and more involving so much so the reader cannot stop carrying on through the pages of the book because he looks forward to know how will finish Frankenstein's story; but the ingredient that is, in my opinion, the more interesting one is the fact that Shelley created a novel which inside conteins two other different stories: a real "story within the story within the story". In this way here the readers find three different narrators: at first, Walton, who is the one who exchange letters with her sister, then dr. Frankenstein, who informs Walton, and finally the monster, who informs the doctor. Through this narrative technique the reader can have a multiple perspective of the story because there is three different points of view and he can decide in which he identifies himself. In this way the author wanted to make the narration more objective to involve intellectually the readers, and I truly believe she has succeeded in her intention, because he managed to create an entangling but powerful novel.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein has been considered so fascinating that lots of film directors took inspiration from it for their works... Here there are two different video trailers of movies based on this story: the first is one of the most recent versions (producted one year ago) and the second is instead an older one (1994).
What makes Mary Shelley such a great writer in my opinion is also her choice of the themes to develop in this gothic novel. Chapter 5 has the main purpose of letting the readers know how the creation of the monster happened: in this important passage, though, the writer does not restrict herself only to the careful and therefore fearsome description of the new "human being" but she also throws the readers into the head of the character. In this way we share with the protagonist his thoughts and feelings and we are constantly confronted with this figure. Anyway, particular and surprising is how Mary renders the personality of Dr. Frankenstein in this chapter, when he discovers the result of his project and demonstrates to be very disappointed and "unable to endure the aspect of the being he had created" even if the idea of infusing life to an inanimate body has been his biggest desire for nearly two years.
Bizarre and controversial are the two main adjectives that may be considered suitable for this character, but are we not so sometimes? Let's just think about how many times has happened to us to make something we have ever desire to make, and then, only when we saw the result to be so regretful that we would like to go back in time not to make it again... Is this theme so dated then? I definitely do not think so. What does Dr. Frankenstein later do is then something impressive: he abandons his creature because he is afraid and wants not to take his own resposibilities. I must admit that I personally found this scene particularly intense and touching because by reading it I got a strong message connected to one of the problems our society still has: the one of the great number of the neglected minor. The just born creature, in fact, in the story has been left all alone because of the uncaring attitude of his creator, and this is what in real life in most of the cases unfortunately happened too... What a cruelty! I cannot understand how a person can be so savage to repudiate someone which is born in this and that therefore has the same rights to live. I ask myself lots and lots of times how can this be possible and I honestly believe I will never be able to answer this question...
Speaking of neglect, the following video is a really touching and powerful deposition of a young woman who was not supposed to born because her parents and in particular her mother did not want her to come to life. We don't really know the motivations her mother really had to arrive to consider and perform the abortion, so I personally believe I can not express an opinion about the choice of this mother; however, I cannot hide my enormous feeling of esteem and respect for this woman, who decided to speak to the world of his unusual experience.
BREATH-TAKING. Isn't it? Gianna's courage and moral strength is something extraordinary and really touching, for this I think not to be the only person who cannot do anything else but move every time I bump into this video.
Chapter 13, instead, is mainly focused on the education of the monster. In these lines, Mary Shelley tells how the creature has been instructed from the De Lacey family, composed of Felix, Agatha and their blind father; one day comes to the house a woman, Safie, and the family welcomes her and gives her lessons in French. It is in this way that he monster learns along with her. Even if the plot of this chapter could seem very easy to analyze, the messages that it includes are very important. Frankenstein, from the day of his birth is very hesitant on the relationship with the human being because from that moment he has got only negative experiences with them as for example the neglect from his creator and many others occasions in which the monster has been treated harshly from people who were afraid of his figure. In this family, though, he feels good. It is thanks to the education he manages to achieve, that a spiritual evolution occurs in the soul of the creature, who started asking himself questions about mankind's nature and therefore about himself, as a real baby would do. But if on one hand this kind of education he managed to achieve seems to reach his mind, on the other hand the monster understands that this is something which causes in him a sort of painful feeling ("sorrow only increased with knowledge...") because through the study of history he could understands that most of the greatest problems of life have been caused from the operation of human beings, the same who then have to face their own mistakes. And does not this still happen in our society?
Who is the real monster in this novel? The just created monster or his creator? And are human beings good or bad? Mary Shelley makes the reader reflect also upon this questions but she seems to give us also her personal opinion: nobody is only good or only bad; our society seems to have imposed a label to define goodness and malice, but this does not really exist. To this point, Frankenstein feels himself an outcast because he looks like different from the other people, and the reader himself at the beginning of the narration is usually persuaded on thinking about him as a horrible, wretch beast, while during the whole plot the perception of this character changes and becomes the opposite of the starting one. An unusual strategy used from the writer, who plays with the contraposition between good and bad/ victim and victimizer which seems to add to the story a mark of irony that once again makes the novel unique and exciting.
The power of this masterpiece is, in conclusion, the ability of entertaining the reader so much so the person identifies himself with the characters. Personally, in fact, lots of times during the reading of this novel I bumped into reflections which consisted on comparing my person with the figure of the two main protagonists. Would I, as the creator, abandoned the monster all alone just because it did not perfectly represent my starting project, or would I stayed by his side to help him growing up? And what I would do if I was the creature? Then I reflected also upon the idea of infusing life into an inanimate body... Is this a useful achievement in the field of technology or not? Would I use it to bring someone back to life? Well, I definitely do not see this as a great thing but, to the contrary, something fearsome because against nature. I believe we have been made from our Creator following some laws which are the ones of nature and for this reason I think nobody should ever change them too much. Yet, this is only my opinion...