So, maybe I’m a bit late to the classics front, but I’m gonna write a review about it anyway because this book has successfully made it into my top ten favorites. Why? Because Shelley is an absolutely beautiful writer. Let’s get into some of the finer logistics of this.
Frankenstein for those who don’t know is about a young scientist who sets out to create life. He uses these “unhallowed arts” to create a horrendous creature that ultimately brings loss to the scientist’s life by killing many of those he holds dearest. What some of you may not know (which was very much my position before reading the text) is that the creature is rather intelligent and not at all like the portrayal that many put him in. Most often we see him as just some dumb monster that walks with his arms out in front. The creature, which is unnamed for the entire novel, is one that seeks acceptance in the world despite his hideous state and ungodly creation. What made this so captivating for me is Shelley’s ability to put so much emotion behind her words and the amazing strength she shows in putting the reader into the story.
Alright, emotion behind words. What am I talking about exactly? Well, these are the moments that so entrance the reader that they feel for a certain character in the book. Shelley made these moments in the book even more real through the pain that she experienced in her life. She lost many children and I believe it shows much of that through the text in the novel. There are also moments where I think she’s talking to herself through her characters. What this does is break down the barrier between author and reader that equates to the characters and the word. By putting oneself so wholly into the novel, we can better connect with the audience who holds the words in their hands.
This book is also an outstanding example of beautiful diction and vivid imagery. With every turn of the page, it transported me to another part of Europe, whether it be London, Switzerland, or a ship on the sea. While we’re talking on the matter of descriptions, though, can we take a moment to appreciate this description of Frankenstein’s creature?
“How can I describe my emotions at this catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch whom with such infinite pains and care I had endeavoured to form? His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun-white sockets in which they were set, his shrivelled complexion and straight black lips.” — Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
Every time I read that I get absolute chills. Such vivid imagery. Also, I’m not afraid to admit that, until I actually picked up the novel, I was very ignorant about Frankenstein’s creature. I didn’t know he held any type of intelligence. Whenever I thought about the monster, I always pictured some mindless creature walking with its hands out in front of it. When you read the novel, you’ll come to find that this isn’t the case at all. The creature becomes a sentient being with genuine emotions. I was blown away by how much pity I felt for this monster, though I also had a great deal of sympathy for Frankenstein too. While the creature was dealt a bad hand in life, Frankenstein’s wasn’t any better once his studies came to fruition. I don’t believe I’ll talk more on the matter in fear of giving out spoilers, so I’ll move onto the next part for anyone interested in picking up the novel!
Now, I don’t know about you reading this, but I often struggle with the way people spoke during the time this was novel was written in. What follows is having to re-read certain passages in order to get the true meaning behind them. I didn’t experience this with Frankenstein. Shelley’s way of speaking in the novel never confused me or led me on a chase for deciphering meaning, unless I wanted to go deeper, such as connecting the work back to areas of her life and experiences with grief. I absolutely recommend this reading if anyone is looking to dive into classics. It’s not too long, and it’s one I’m sure you’ll enjoy. You can find the book on Amazon.
Until next time.