Books

15 March 2014

More about Frankenstein


I usually post approximately every third day, but seeing as this post is intrinsically connected to the previous post, I decided to post a little sooner.

It is interesting to observe that, during the years since the publication of Shelley's Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus, it has become more and more common that the name of Frankenstein (the creator of the monster) should conjure up not the scientist but his creation. (According to Wikipedia, a person wrote in 1908, 'It is strange to note how well-nigh universally the term 'Frankenstein' is misused, even by intelligent people, as describing some hideous monster'.). This misuse of the name has occurred, not only in literature - for example: The Reef by Edith Wharton and The Bridal Ornament by David Lindsay - but also in a number of films. Nowadays, there are many people for whom the name, Frankenstein, calls up the image of a monster called Frankenstein.

In the book, when Frankenstein creates his monster, he completely rejects it to the point where he refuses to give it a name. Instead, it is referred to by expressions that not only infer a lack of identity but that also negate any of those human qualities of which the monster may have had some slight inkling. Names such as, 'it', 'daemon', 'monster', 'wretch', 'vile insect' and even 'abhorred devil' are scattered throughout the book.

Although the misuse of the name is, no doubt, contrary to what Shelley had intended, I do not feel that it is to be frowned upon completely. Frankenstein, the creator, puts himself, wittingly or not, on the same level as God, and, as a creator, he has a responsibility toward the creature he creates. When he refuses to take responsibility, it is only fitting that he should meld with his creation, becoming part of it, and that his creation should, therefore, with time, assume the creator's name.

Image of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster. Wikipedia.