Frankenstein: the myth of dark creation.
Geneva, Vila Diodati, summer of 1816, the birth of one of the most fascinating myths of fantastic and horror literature--Frankenstein--, the outcome of a ghost story competition between George Gordon Byron (1788-1824), Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), John William Polidori (1795-1821), and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1797-1851).
The starting points were some arguments and controversies about vampires and other supernatural beings, about Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790; electricity), James Lind (1716-1794; citric fruits, healthy connective tissues, scurvy, putrefaction), Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802; botany, natural history, theory of evolution), Luigi Galvani (1737-1798, electrical experiments), Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829; chemistry, usage of voltaic piles), Charles Darwin (1809-1882; species evolution, natural selection) and the development of modern sciences. Also discussed were the schools of vitalism--holding that living beings were fundamentally distinct from the inanimated ones because of some different physico-chemical elements or performances--and of materialism--holding that everything really existing was material in nature--, respectively, not to say anything about the creation of life, the experiments in galvanism on executed criminals, and a general vogue for automata (Mulvey-Roberts 1998: 214). Moreover, the four writers and close friends seemed to have been influenced by the stories read in Fantasmagoriana; ou, Recueil d histoires d 'apparitions, de spectres, revenans, fantomes (1812), translated by Jean-Baptiste-Benoit Eyries (1767-1846) from the first two volumes of the five-volume Gespensterbuch (1811-1815), edited by Friedrich Schulze and Johann Apel. It should be mentioned that Eyries's rendering had already been translated into English, as Tales of the Dead (1813), by Sarah Elizabeth Brown Utterson (1782-1851). (Shelley 2005: 48, Preface written for Percy Shelley, note 1, Macdonald & Scherf)
Mary Shelley stated the genesis of her novel in the Prefaces to the 1818 and 1831 editions, respectively.
In the 1818 Preface (written in 1817 for her husband Percy), the author mentioned that
The event on which this fiction is founded has been supposed, by Dr. Darwin, and some of the physiological writers of Germany, as not of impossible occurrence. I shall not be supposed as according the remotest degree of serious faith to such an imagination; yet, in assuming it as the basis of a work of fancy, I have not considered myself as merely weaving a series of supernatural terrors. The event on which the interest of the story depends is exempt from the disadvantages of a mere tale of spectres or enchantment. It was recommended by the novelty of the situations which it developes; and, however impossible as a physical fact, affords a point of view to the imagination for the delineating of human passions more comprehensive and commanding than any which the ordinary relations of existing events can yield.... I have thus endeavoured to preserve the truth of the elementary principles of human nature, which I have not scrupled to innovate upon their combinations....
The circumstance on which my story rests was suggested in casual conversation. It was commenced, partly as a source of amusement, and partly as an expedient for exercising any untried resources of mind. Other motives were mingled with these, as the work proceeded. I am by no means indifferent to the manner in which whatever moral tendencies exist in the sentiments or characters it contains shall affect the reader; yet my chief concern in this respect has been limited to the avoiding the enervating effects of the novels of the present day, and to the exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection, and the excellence of universal virtue. The opinions which naturally spring from the character and situation of the hero are by no means to be conceived as existing always in my own conviction; nor is any inference justly to be drawn from the following pages as prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind.
It is a subject also of additional interest to the author, that this story was begun in the majestic region where the scene is principally laid, and in society which cannot cease to be regretted. I passed the summer of 1816 in the environs of Geneva. The season was cold and rainy, and in the evenings we crowded around a blazing wood fire, and occasionally amused ourselves with some German stories of ghosts, which happened to fall into our hands. These tales excited in us a playful desire of imitation. Two other friends (a tale from the pen of one of whom would be far more acceptable to the public than any thing I can ever hope to produce) and myself agreed to write each a story, founded on some supernatural occurrence. (Shelley 2005: 47-48)
The 1831 Preface was much more precise, connecting Mary Shelley's aesthetical conceptions with those of two great Romantic poets, Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834) and John Keats (1795-1821).
When speaking about the programme of the Lyrical Ballads (1798), Coleridge explained that he had chosen to write about supernatural events:
The incidents and agents were to be in part, at least, supernatural; and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever sources of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency.... My endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment which constitutes poetic faith. (Coleridge 1927: 160-161)
In his Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (1819, February 14-May 3 / April 15), the author of Lamia stated his poetic subjects:
... Metaphysics, Different genera and species of Dreams--Nightmare--a dream accompanied by a sense of touch--single and double touch--A Dream related--1-st and 2-nd consciousness--the difference explained between Will and Volition ... Monsters--the Kraken, Mermaids-- ... A Ghost Story." (Keats 1938: 277)
Instead of supernatural events or beings, ghosts or phantoms, Mary Shelley chose to write about a mad creator / scientist and a frightening monster. Some fragments of the 1831 Preface, a real and perceptive insight into the psychology of literary creation, need to be quoted in full:
In the summer of 1816, we visited Switzerland, and became the neighbours of Lord Byron ... But it proved a wet, ungenial summer, and incessant rain often confined us for days to the house. Some volumes of ghost stories, translated from the German into French, fell into our hands. There was the History of the Inconstant Lover, who, when he thought to clasp the bride to whom he had pledged his vows, found himself in the arms of the pale ghost of her whom he had deserted. There was the tale of the sinful founder of his race, whose miserable doom it was to bestow the kiss of death on all the younger sons of his fated house, just when they reached the age of promise. His gigantic, shadowy form, clothed like the ghost in Hamlet, in complete armour, but with the beaver up, was seen at midnight, by the moon's fitful beams, to advance slowly along the gloomy avenue. The shape was lost beneath the shadow of the castle walls; but soon a gate swung back, a step was heard, the door of the chamber opened, and he advanced to the couch of the blooming youths, cradled in healthy sleep. Eternal sorrow sat upon his face as he bent down and kissed the forehead of the boys, who from that hour withered like flowers snapt upon the stalk. I have not seen these stories since then; but their incidents are as fresh in my mind as if I had read them yesterday.
'We will each write a ghost story,' said Lord Byron; and his proposition was acceded to. There were four of us. The noble author began a tale, a fragment of which he printed at the end of his poem of Mazeppa. Shelley, more apt to embody ideas and sentiments in the radiance of brilliant imagery, and in the music of the most melodious verse that adorns our language, than to invent the machinery of a story, commenced one founded on the experiences of his early life. Poor Polidori had some terrible idea about a skull-headed lady, who was so punished for peeping through a keyhole--what to see I forget--something very shocking and wrong ... he did not know what to do with her, and was obliged to despatch her to the tomb of the Capulets, the only place for which she was fitted....
I busied myself to think of a story,--a story to rival those which had excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature, and awaken thrilling horror--one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart. If I did not accomplish these things, my ghost story would be unworthy of its name. I thought and pondered--vainly. I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing replies to our anxious invocations. Have you thought of a story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative.
Every thing must have a beginning, ... and that beginning must be linked to something that went before.... Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos; the materials must, in the first place, be afforded: it can give form to dark, shapeless substances, but cannot bring into being the substance itself. In all matters of discovery and invention, even of those that appertain to the imagination, we are continually reminded of the story of Columbus and his egg. Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of moulding and fashioning ideas suggested to it.
Many and long were the conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener. During one of these, various philosophical doctrines were discussed, and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated. They talked of the experiments of Dr. Darwin, ... who preserved a piece of vermicelli in a glass case, till by some extraordinary means it began to move with voluntary motion. Not thus, after all, would life be given. Perhaps a corpse would be reanimated; galvanism had given token of such things: perhaps the component parts of a creature might be manufactured, brought together, and endued with vital warmth
Night waned upon this talk, and even the witching hour had gone by, before we retired to rest. When I placed my head on my pillow, I did not sleep, nor could I be said to think. My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie. I saw--with shut eyes, but acute mental vision,--I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world. His success would terrify the artist; he would rush away from his odious handywork, horror-stricken. He would hope that, left to itself, the slight spark of life which he had communicated would fade; that this thing, which had received such imperfect animation, would subside into dead matter; and he might sleep in the belief that the silence of the grave would quench for ever the transient existence of the hideous corpse which he had looked upon as the cradle of life. He sleeps; but he is awakened; he opens his eyes; behold the horrid thing stands at his bedside, opening his curtains, and looking on him with yellow, watery, but speculative eyes.
I opened mine in terror. The idea so possessed my mind, that a thrill of fear ran through me, and I wished to exchange the ghastly image of my fancy for the realities around. I see them still; the very room, the dark parquet, the closed shutters, with the moonlight struggling through, and the sense I had that the glassy lake and white high Alps were beyond. I could not so easily get rid of my hideous phantom; still it haunted me. I must try to think of something else. I recurred to my ghost story,--my tiresome unlucky ghost story! O! if I could only contrive one which would frighten my reader as I myself had been frightened that night!
Swift as light and as cheering was the idea that broke in upon me. 'I have found it! What terrified me will terrify others; and I need only describe the spectre which had haunted my midnight pillow.' On the morrow I announced that I had thought of a story. I began that day with the words, It was on a dreary night of November, making only a transcript of the grim terrors of my waking dream.
At first I thought but of a few pages--of a short tale; but Shelley urged me to develope the idea at greater length. I certainly did not owe the suggestion of one incident, nor scarcely of one train of feeling, to my husband, and yet but for his incitement, it would never have taken the form in which it was presented to the world. From this declaration I must except the preface. As far as I can recollect, it was entirely written by him.
And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper. I have an affection for it, for it was the offspring of happy days, when death and grief were but words, which found no true echo in my heart.... Its several pages speak of many a walk, many a drive, and many a conversation, when I was not alone; and my companion was one who, in this world, I shall never see more....
I will add but one word as to the alterations I have made. They are principally those of style. I have changed no portion of the story, nor introduced any new ideas or circumstances. I have mended the language where it was so bald as to interfere with the interest of the narrative; and these changes occur almost exclusively in the beginning of the first volume. Throughout they are entirely confined to such parts as are mere adjuncts to the story, leaving the core and substance of it untouched. (Shelley 2005: 354-359)
Frankenstein was written between June 16, 1816-May 13, 1817, proofed by Percy Shelley through the fall of 1817, printed by December 31, 1817, and published anonymously on January 1, 1818 by Lackington, Allen and Company, London.
The novel was favourably reviewed (Remarks on Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus; a Novel), in Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine 2 (1818), by Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) who considered it "a romantic fiction", one which did not simply indulge in the fantastic for its own sake, but used it to explore the "powers and workings of the human mind" by the author's "uncommon powers of poetic imagination", her "original genius and happy power of expression", her "plain and forcible English, without exhibiting that mixture of hyperbolical Germanisms with which tales of wonder are usually told, as if it were necessary that the language should be as extravagant as the fiction." However, the Scottish novelist considered "unlikely" that the Monster could have articulated words or could have learnt to read so easily in such a short time. (Shelley 2005: 300-305)
Other reviews, some favourable, some not, were published in the Quarterly Review (18, 1817-1818, John Wilson Croker), La Belle Assemblee (March 1818), the British Critic (April 1818), the Gentleman's Magazine (April 1818), the Monthly Review (April 1818), the Literary Panorama (June 1818). However, the first review written, and in some ways the most interesting, appeared last. In February 1818, Percy Shelley wrote a review, published only in 1832 (On 'Frankenstein'; Athenaeum, November 10); some fragments are worth quoting in full:
The novel of 'Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus,' is undoubtedly, as a mere story, one of the most original and complete productions of the day.... This novel rests its claim on being a source of powerful and profound emotion. The elementary feelings of the human mind are exposed to view.... But, founded on nature as they are, there is perhaps no reader, who can endure anything beside a new love-story, who will not feel a responsive string touched in his inmost soul. The sentiments are so affectionate and so innocent--the characters of the subordinate agents in this strange drama are clothed in the light of such a mild and gentle mind--the pictures of domestic manners are of the most simple and attaching character: the pathos is irresistible and deep. Nor are the crimes and malevolence of the single Being, though indeed withering and tremendous, the offspring of any unaccountable propensity to evil, but flow irresistibly from certain causes fully adequate to their production. They are the children, as it were, of Necessity and Human Nature. In this the direct moral of the book consists; and it is perhaps the most important, and of the most universal application, of any moral that can be enforced by example. Treat a person ill, and he will become wicked. Requite affection with scorn; ... divide him, a social being, from society, and you impose upon him the irresistible obligations--malevolence and selfishness. It is thus that, too often in society, those who are best qualified to be its benefactors and its ornaments, are branded by some accident with scorn, and changed, by neglect and solitude of heart, into a scourge and a curse. The Being in "Frankenstein" is, no doubt, a tremendous creature. It was impossible that he should not have received among men that treatment which led to the consequences of his being a social nature. He was an abortion and an anomaly; and though his mind was such as its first impressions framed it, affectionate and full of moral sensibility, yet the circumstances of his existence are so monstrous and uncommon, that, when the consequences of them became developed in action, his original goodness was gradually turned into inextinguishable misanthropy and revenge.... The general character of the tale, indeed, resembles nothing that ever preceded it. After the death of Elizabeth, the story, like a stream which grows at once more rapid and profound as it proceeds, assumes an irresistible solemnity, and the magnificent energy and swiftness of a tempest. The churchyard scene, in which Frankenstein visits the tombs of his family, his quitting Geneva, and his journey through Tartary to the shores of the Frozen Ocean, resemble at once the terrible reanimation of a corpse and the supernatural career of a spirit. The scene in the cabin of Walton's ship--the more than mortal enthusiasm and grandeur of the Being's speech over the dead body of his victim--is an exhibition of intellectual and imaginative power, which we think the reader will acknowledge has seldom been surpassed. (apud Shelley 2005: 310-312)
Mary Shelley began revising the novel relatively soon after its publication, and she made a a series of changes which, unfortunateley, were never implemented in the second edition of 1823. Her holograph-annotated copy, housed nowadays in the J. Pierpont Morgan Library, New York, represented a significant stage in the evolution of the text and the author's relationship with it. Many of these changed passages were revised--and further modified or enlarged--for the 1831 edition published by Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley as the 9th volume in their six-shillings Standard Novels series. In fact, this 1831 edition, although the standard text nowadays, might be considered a very different version when compared with the 1818 one which was "closer to the imaginative act and atmosphere that spawned this influential novel." (Macdonald & Scherf 2005b: 40)
The differences seemed to have been influenced by Mary Shelley's personal life which convinced her that "human beings [are] ... mere puppets in the hands of destiny" (Mellor 1989: 173) instead of being able to control their own destinies. That was why Victor Frankenstein was less in control of his own actions:
In 1818 Victor Frankenstein possessed free will or the capacity for meaningful moral choice--he could have abandoned his quest for the 'principle of life,' he could have cared for his creature, he could have protected Elizabeth. In 1831 such choice is denied to him. He is the pawn of forces beyond his knowledge or control. Again and again, Mary Shelley reassigns human actions to chance or fate. (Mellor 1989: 171)
This fatalistic view of human nature was matched by a mechanistic view of the non-human nature, a reason why the 1831 version should be considered more, not less, mechanistic than the original 1818 one. (Macdonald & Scherf 2005b: 39)
The name "Frankenstein" was apparently chosen after a castle Mary and Percy Shelley had seen in their trip on the Rhine in late August and September 1814. The name of that fortified manor--Frankenstein Castle / Burg Frankenstein--, built in 1250 near Darmdtadt, seemed terrific for the couple when they heard it meant the "castle or rock of the Franks", and was associated with the legend of the alchemist and necromancer Johann Konrad Dippel (1673-1734) who, being born there, signed himself as "Frankensteiner". (Frayling 1996: 35-36). However, another influence might have been a Gothic bluebook, the anonymous The Old Tower of Frankenstein, published by Thomas Tegg (1776-1845) around 1811 in Cheapside, London. (Snodgrass 2005: 127)
The novel pretended to describe a dream (a pre-eminently Romantic element) in which Shelley was no doubt drawn from the stories concerning the Prague Rabbi Loew ben Bezalel (1512/1520-1609) and his Golem--the mud-shaped human animated anthropomorphic being created to protect his people against the persecutions of Emperor Rudolf II, 1552-1612.--as well as by the legend of the Faustian pact. But, one should bear in mind the fact that the Monster, unlike the Golem, was a humanoid made up of various human parts taken from corpses, therefore not having a completely "artificial" origin. Other influences worthmentioning were Ann Radcliffe's terror novel The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), the real stories about early 19th century grave-robbings, and Romantic myths such as that of the Wandering Jew--the Monster, an "unnamed ghoul" and a "pariah" (Snodgrass 2005: 126) stalking England and Europe, leaving behind only terror and horrific murders.
Close encounter in a frozen environment
Frankenstein begins with a series of six letters sent by Captain Robert Walton, from St. Petersburgh and Archangel, Russia, to Margaret Saville, his sister, in England.
Sailing on the Arctic Seas to attain his goal--the discovery of the North Pole--because "nothing contributes so much to tranquillize the mind as a steady purpose,--a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye" (Shelley 2005: 50) in spite of the "cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep", and of the long nights devoted to "the study of mathematics, the theory of medicine, and those branches of physical science from which a naval adventurer might derive the greatest practical advantage" (Shelley 2005: 51), Walton saw one day something quite strange. It was a low carriage, fixed on a sledge and drawn by dogs, pass on towards the north, at the distance of half a mile: a being which had the shape of a man, but apparently of gigantic stature, sat in the sledge, and guided the dogs. (Shelley 2005: 57)
After some time his sailors rescued a "human being", an unconscious man who "was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island, but an European" on a wretched condition, almost on "the brink of destruction"; his "limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering" (Shelley 2005: 57). Two days after, Walton first described him:
I never saw a more interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness; but there are moments when, if any one performs an act of kindness towards him, or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally melancholy and despairing; and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him. (Shelley 2005: 58)
His health having been improved, when asked why he was travelling alone on that unfavourable arctic environment, the stranger said he was just trying "to seek one who fled" from him (Shelley 2005: 59); this might have been just the man the captain and some of his crew had seen a few days before. Walton drew up a new portrait of his "guest":
He is so gentle, yet so wise; his mind is so cultivated; and when he speaks, although his words are culled with the choicest art, yet they flow with rapidity and unparalleled eloquence.... Yet, although unhappy, he is not so utterly occupied by his own misery, but that he interests himself deeply in the employments of others. He has asked me many questions concerning my design; and I have related my little history frankly to him. He appeared pleased with the confidence, and suggested several alterations in my plan, which I shall find exceedingly useful. There is no pedantry in his manner; but all he does appears to spring solely from the interest he instinctively takes in the welfare of those who surround him. He is often overcome by gloom, and then he sits by himself, and tries to overcome all that is sullen or unsocial in his humour. These paroxysms pass from him like a cloud from before the sun, though his dejection never leaves him.... Such a man has a double existence: he may surfer misery, and be overwhelmed by disappointments; yet when he has retired into himself, he will be like a celestial spirit, that has a halo around him, within whose circle no grief or folly ventures. (Shelley 2005: 60-61)
The discussion--no matter how textually and stylistically different in the 1818 and 1832 editions, respectively,--reveal the same yearning for knowledge which characterize the entire existence of Walton and of the "stranger" picked up from the frozen sea.
I [Walton] was easily led by the sympathy which he evinced, to use the language of my heart; to give utterance to the burning ardour of my soul; and to say, with all the fervour that warmed me, how gladly I would sacrifice my fortune, my existence, my every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought; for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race. (1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 318)
The stranger's reply
Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drank also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me,--let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips! (1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 319) made Walton state that he
[was] self-educated, and perhaps I hardly rely sufficiently upon my own powers. I wish therefore that my companion should be wiser and more experienced than myself, to confirm and support me; nor have I believed it impossible to find a true friend (1818 edition, Shelley 2005: 61)
and he was ceaselessly searching for a "friend":
One day I mentioned to him the desire I had always felt of finding a friend who might sympathize with me, and direct me by his counsel. I said, I did not belong to that class of men who are offended by advice. 'I am self-educated, and perhaps I hardly rely sufficiently upon my own powers. I wish therefore that my companion should be wiser and more experienced than myself, to confirm and support me; nor have I believed it impossible to find a true friend.' (1818 edition, Shelley 2005: 61)
[...] for a more intimate sympathy with a fellow mind than had ever fallen to my lot; and expressed my conviction that a man could boast of little happiness, who did not enjoy this blessing. (1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 319)
Afterwards the "stranger" elaborated on the friendship issue:
I agree with you, 'replied the stranger,' in believing that friendship is not only a desirable, but a possible acquisition. I once had a friend, the most noble of human creatures, and am entitled, therefore, to judge respecting friendship. You have hope, and the world before you, and have no cause for despair. But I--I have lost every thing, and cannot begin life anew.' (1818 edition, Shelley 2005: 61)
I agree with you,' replied the stranger; 'we are unfashioned creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves--such a friend ought to be--do not lend his aid to perfectionate our weak and faulty natures.' (1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 319)
Walton went on further enlarging upon the matter:
You have been tutored and refined by books and retirement from the world, and you are, therefore, somewhat fastidious; but this only renders you the more fit to appreciate the extraordinary merits of this wonderful man. Sometimes I have endeavoured to discover what quality it is which he possesses, that elevates him so immeasurably above any other person I ever knew. I believe it to be an intuitive discernment; a quick but never-failing power of judgment; a penetration into the causes of things, unequalled for clearness and precision; add to this a facility of expression, and a voice whose varied intonations are soul-subduing music. (1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 319)
Recalling his past "misfortunes" and his goals--as against those of Captain Walton--, the stranger promised he would tell the story of his life to set the things straight:
You may easily perceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes. I had determined, once, that the memory of these evils should die with me; but you have won me to alter my determination. You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of my misfortunes will be useful to you, yet, if you are inclined, listen to my tale. I believe that the strange incidents connected with it will afford a view of nature, which may enlarge your faculties and understanding. You will hear of powers and occurrences, such as you have been accustomed to believe impossible: but I do not doubt that my tale conveys in its series internal evidence of the truth of the events of which it is composed. (1818 edition, Shelley 2005: 61-62) as he thought his fate was already made:
'I thank you,' he replied, 'for your sympathy, but it is useless; my fate is nearly fulfilled. I wait but for one event, and then I shall repose in peace. I understand your feeling,' continued he, perceiving that I wished to interrupt him; 'but you are mistaken, my friend, if thus you will allow me to name you; nothing can alter my destiny: listen to my history, and you will perceive how irrevocably it is determined.' (1818 edition, Shelley 2005: 62)
The story of a scholar
The stranger, Genevese by birth and called Victor Frankenstein, started his life story. Since a boy he "delighted in investigating the facts relative to the actual world... [a] world [that] was to me a secret, which I desired to discover." (Shelley 2005: 66). Fascinated by "natural philosophy"--the usual 18th century term for natural science--he read the works of Albertus Magnus (1193-1280; De animalibus / On Animals, 1495; De mineralibus / Book of Minerals, 1476), Heinrich Cornelius Agrippa von Nettesheim (1486-1535; De occulta philosophia libri tres / Three Books of Occult Philosophy, 1529-1533; De incertitudine et vanitate scientiarum et artium / On the Uncertainty and Vanity of Arts and Sciences, 1530), Paracelsius (Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim, 1493-1541):
If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me, that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded, and that a modern system of science had been introduced, which possessed much greater powers than the ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimerical, while those of the former were real and practical; under such circumstances, I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside, and, with my imagination warmed as it was, should probably have applied myself to the more rational theory of chemistry which has resulted from modern discoveries. It is even possible, that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin.... When I returned home, my first care was to procure the whole works of this author, and afterwards of Paracelsus and Albertus Magnus. I read and studied the wild fancies of these writers with delight; they appeared to me treasures known to few beside myself; and although I often wished to communicate these secret stores of knowledge to my father, yet his indefinite censure of my favourite Agrippa always withheld me. (Shelley 2005: 68)
Not interested, as many of his contemporaries, in "the raising of ghosts or devils", he entered with "the greatest diligence into the search of the philosophers stone and the elixir of life", keeping himself busy with the "distillation, and the wonderful effects of steam" as well as with "some experiments on an air-pump" (Shelley 2005: 69). One day after a powerful storm, during which a tree had been struck by lightning, he asked his father about
the nature and origin of thunder and lightning. He replied, 'Electricity;' describing at the same time the various effects of that power. He constructed a small electrical machine, and exhibited a few experiments; he made also a kite, with a wire and string, which drew down that fluid from the clouds this. (Shelley 2005: 70)
After reading not only mathematics and some of its related branches of science, but also Latin and Greek, in various schools of Geneva, he was admitted to the University of Ingolstadt, on the Danube in Upper Bavaria. Here, although he was already considering "useless" the authors he had read, he received quite a shock when M. Krempe, Professor of natural philosophy, stated bluntly that he had wasted his time reading such long-forgotten books, full of "exploded systems, and useless names" as well as "fancies ... a thousand years old, and as musty as they are ancient." (Shelley 2005: 74-75). Frankenstein went on saying:
I had a contempt for the uses of modern natural philosophy. It was very different, when the masters of the science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth. (Shelley 2005: 75)
A few days after his arrival at Ingolstadt, Victor Frankenstein attended Professor Waldman's lecture on old and modern scholars, a lecture which would change, completely and disastrously, his entire life:
The ancient teachers of this science...promised impossibilities, and performed nothing. The modern masters promise very little; they know that metals cannot be transmuted, and that the elixir of life is a chimera. But these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pour over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the recesses of nature, and shew how she works in her hiding places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows. (Shelley 2005: 76)
The subject was discussed further when the freshman paid a visit to his chemistry professor:
These were men to whose indefatigable zeal modern philosophers were indebted for most of the foundations of their knowledge. They had left to us, as an easier task, to give new names, and arrange in connected classifications, the facts which they in a great degree had been the instruments of bringing to light. The labours of men of genius, however erroneously directed, scarcely ever fail in ultimately turning to the solid advantage of mankind.... Chemistry is that branch of natural philosophy in which the greatest improvements have been and may be made; it is on that account that I have made it my peculiar study; but at the same time I have not neglected the other branches of science. A man would make but a very sorry chemist, if he attended to that department of human knowledge alone. If your wish is to become really a man of science, and not merely a petty experimentalist, I should advise you to apply to every branch of natural philosophy, including mathematics. (Shelley 2005: 76-77)
And this was the turning point in Victor's life:
From this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry, in the most comprehensive sense of the term, became nearly my sole occupation. I read with ardour those works, so full of genius and discrimination.... The more fully I entered into the science, the more exclusively I pursued it for its own sake. That application, which at first had been a matter of duty and resolution, now became so ardent and eager, that the stars often disappeared in the light of morning whilst I was yet engaged in my laboratory. (Shelley 2005: 77-78)
Being engaged in the "pursuit of some discoveries" he hoped to make, his Fate was already set as science would be his only concern:
None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science. In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder. A mind of moderate capacity, which closely pursues one study, must infallibly arrive at great proficiency in that study; and I, who continually sought the attainment of one object of pursuit, and was solely wrapt up in this, improved so rapidly, that, at the end of two years, I made some discoveries in the improvement of some chemical instruments, which procured me great esteem and admiration at the university. (Shelley 2005: 78)
Inside the brilliant deranged mind of a scientist
Victor Frankenstem decided to study thoroughly "the structure of the human frame, and, indeed, any animal endued with life" (Shelley 2005: 79). Wondering about the eternal, but still unsolved "principle of life", he made his mind to apply "more particularly to those branches of natural philosophy which relate to physiology" (Shelley 2005: 79):
Unless I had been animated by an almost supernatural enthusiasm, my application to this study would have been irksome, and almost intolerable. To examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death. I became acquainted with the science of anatomy: but this was not sufficient; I must also observe the natural decay and corruption of the human body. In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed with no supernatural horrors. I do not ever remember to have trembled at a tale of superstition, or to have feared the apparition of a spirit. Darkness had no effect upon my fancy; and a church-yard was to me merely the receptacle of bodies deprived of life, which, from being the seat of beauty and strength, had become food for the worm. Now I was led to examine the cause and progress of this decay, and forced to spend days and nights in vaults and charnel houses. My attention was fixed upon every object the most insupportable to the delicacy of the human feelings. I saw how the fine form of man was degraded and wasted; I beheld the corruption of death succeed to the blooming cheek of life; I saw how the worm inherited the wonders of the eye and brain. I paused, examining and analysing all the minutiae of causation, as exemplified in the change from life to death, and death to life. (Shelley 2005: 79)
Surprised that "so many men of genius" had not yet succeeded to discover "so astonishing a secret", Victor got to the bottom of the "cause of generation and life", becoming "capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter." (Shelley 2005: 80)
After so much time spent in painful labour, to arrive at once at the summit of my desires, was the most gratifying consummation of my toils. But this discovery was so great and overwhelming, that all the steps by which I had been progressively led to it were obliterated, and I beheld only the result. What had been the study and desire of the wisest men since the creation of the world, was now within my grasp. Not that, like a magic scene, it all opened upon me at once: the information I had obtained was of a nature rather to direct my endeavours so soon as I should point them towards the object of my search, than to exhibit that object already accomplished. I was like the Arabian who had been buried with the dead, and found a passage to life aided only by one glimmering, and seemingly ineffectual, light. (Shelley 2005: 80)
Aware of the dangers this knowledge might bring, Victor hesitated at first to use "so astonishing a power":
Although I possessed the capacity of bestowing animation, yet to prepare a frame for the reception of it, with all its intricacies of fibres, muscles, and veins, still remained a work of inconceivable difficulty and labour. I doubted at first whether I should attempt the creation of a being like myself or one of simpler organization; but my imagination was too much exalted by my first success to permit me to doubt of my ability to give life to an animal as complex and wonderful as man. The materials at present within my command hardly appeared adequate to so arduous an undertaking; but I doubted not that I should ultimately succeed. I prepared myself for a multitude of reverses; my operations might be incessantly baffled, and at last my work be imperfect: yet, when I considered the improvement which every day takes place in science and mechanics, I was encouraged to hope my present attempts would at least lay the foundations of future success. Nor could I consider the magnitude and complexity of my plan as any argument of its impracticability. (Shelley 2005: 81)
Finally, he decided he should achieve his goal:
As the minuteness of the parts formed a great hindrance to my speed, I resolved, contrary to my first intention, to make the being of a gigantic stature; that is to say, about eight feet in height, and proportionably large. After having formed this determination, and having spent some months in successfully collecting and arranging my materials, I began. (Shelley 2005: 81)
Driven on by the "hope" he had dedicated himself to, Victor stated that
Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve their's. Pursuing these reflections, I thought, that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in process of time (although I now found it impossible) renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption. (Shelley 2005:81-82)
Pursuing "nature to her hiding places" and having "dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay" (Shelley 2005: 82), Victor decided to attain his goal irrespective of circumstances, personal feelings or expenses:
I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame. In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation; my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion.... I could not tear my thoughts from my employment, loathsome in itself, but which had taken an irresistible hold of my imagination. I wished, as it were, to procrastinate all that related to my feelings of affection until the great object, which swallowed up every habit of my nature, should be completed. (Shelley 2005: 82-83)
Mary Shelley could not help giving here a moralizing touch:
A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind, and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquillity. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections, and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind. If this rule were always observed; if no man allowed any pursuit whatsoever to interfere with the tranquillity of his domestic affections, Greece had not been enslaved; Caesar would have spared his country; America would have been discovered more gradually; and the empires of Mexico and Peru had not been destroyed. (Shelley 2005:83-84)
The creator and his monster
Finally, Victor's experiments were rewarded in a dreary night of November, 1793:
It was on a dreary night of November, that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. (Shelley 2005: 84-85)
The images of fire and reanimation clearly refer to the legend of Prometheus, the mortal who stole fire from the Greek Gods.
Hugely disappointed by the "result" of his two years work, Victor-the-Creator described his creature of horror:
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. The different accidents of life are not so changeable as the feelings of human nature. I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. For this I had deprived myself of rest and health. I had desired it with an ardour that far exceeded moderation; but now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream vanished, and breathless horror and disgust filled my heart. Unable to endure the aspect of the being I had created, I rushed out of the room, and continued a long time traversing my bed-chamber, unable to compose my mind to sleep. At length lassitude succeeded to the tumult I had before endured; and I threw myself on the bed in my clothes, endeavouring to seek a few moments of forgetfulness. But it was in vain: I slept indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. (Shelley 2005: 85)
In fact, what is a monster? Noel Carroll, for whom horror is a "compound emotional response" made up of "two components: fear and disgust" (apud Picard 2003: 16), a monster is a being or a creature that specializes in "formlessness, incompleteness, categorical interstitiality, and categorical contradictoriness" (Carroll 1990: 32). In Genre (1980), Steven Neale uses the lens of gender to point out that the monster either exceeds masculinity or femininity or dangerously mixes them (as opposed to the homogenously "pure" masculine and feminine entities the monster imperils), thus unsettling the boundaries between sexual identity and difference. (Picard 2003: 6) Discussing the evolution of the Frankenstein myth in literature and film, Caroline Joan S. Picard considers that "monsters are the liminal point of not only what we are not, but also what we are; they reveal and conceal not only what we fear, but also what we hope for, and they allow us imaginatively to excavate the depths of not only who we could be in relation to nature and divinity, but also who we are in relation to the demons that lurk within." (Picard 2003: 6)
Dream of death
And the scholar dreamed, and he "saw" Elizabeth Lavenza, his cousin and future wife, in a premonition of what their future would be, one of death, murder and horror; this is a "shape-shifting dream" (Snodgrass 2005: 129) in which Victor seemed to embrace Elizabeth only to witness her body dissolve into the worm-eaten corpse of his mother:
I slept indeed, but I was disturbed by the wildest dreams. I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her; but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with the hue of death; her features appeared to change, and I thought that I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of the flannel. I started from my sleep with horror; a cold dew covered my forehead, my teeth chattered, and every limb became convulsed (Shelley 2005: 85)
This might be just a reworking of an entry in Shelley's journal for March, 19, 1815:
Dream that my little baby came to life again that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lived. I... awake & find no baby--I think about the little thing all day--not in good spirits (apud Macdonald & Scherf 2005a: 11)
This vivid dream, or, better said, nightmare might mean the "total reversal" of his scientific project to animate beings, representing only future "images of death, decay, sexuality and woman return, like the monster, to haunt him with antithesis and consequence of his idealist fantasy" (Botting 1996: 104). And this is the very moment when the readers are given another terrifying portrait of the creature the scientist has given life to:
By the dim and yellow light of the moon, as it forced its way through the window-shutters, I beheld the wretch--the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand was stretched out, seemingly to detain me. (Shelley 2005: 85-86).
Frightened, as any "sane" scholar would be when confronted with one of his own "insane" creations, Victor had nothing else to do but to protect himself:
I escaped, and rushed down stairs. I took refuge in the court-yard belonging to the house which I inhabited; where I remained during the rest of the night, walking up and down in the greatest agitation, listening attentively, catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demoniacal corpse to which I had so miserably given life.
Oh! no mortal could support the horror of that countenance. A mummy again endued with animation could not be so hideous as that wretch. I had gazed on him while unfinished; he was ugly then; but when those muscles and joints were rendered capable of motion, it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived. (Shelley 2005: 86)
Thus, instead of the joy a scientist should feel after making a memorable discovery, Victor was overwhelmed only by disappointment and horror:
I passed the night wretchedly. Sometimes my pulse beat so quickly and hardly, that I felt the palpitation of every artery; at others, I nearly sank to the ground through languor and extreme weakness. Mingled with this horror, I felt the bitterness of disappointment: dreams that had been my food and pleasant rest for so long a space, were now become a hell to me; and the change was so rapid, the overthrow so complete! (Shelley 2005: 86)
All these events led to a nervous fever which lasted for several months, a period he was nursed only by Henry Clerval, his old friend just arrived in Ingolstadt.
The form of the monster on whom I had bestowed existence was for ever before my eyes, and I raved incessantly concerning him. Doubtless my words surprised Henry: he at first believed them to be the wanderings of my disturbed imagination; but the pertinacity with which I continually recurred to the same subject persuaded him that my disorder indeed owed its origin to some uncommon and terrible event. (Shelley 2005: 89-90)
Some time after his recovery, Victor received a letter from his father about the murder of his brother, William, and the grief of Elizabeth who was blaming herself for being involuntarily implicated in that terrible happening:
He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible in my countenance betrayed the secret to Elizabeth. She was very earnest to see the corpse. At first I attempted to prevent her; but she persisted, and entering the room where it lay, hastily examined the neck of the victim, and clasping her hands exclaimed, 'O God! I have murdered my darling infant!'
She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty. When she again lived, it was only to weep and sigh. She told me, that that same evening William had teazed her to let him wear a very valuable miniature that she possessed of your mother. This picture is gone, and was doubtless the temptation which urged the murderer to the deed. We have no trace of him at present, although our exertions to discover him are unremitted. (Shelley 2005: 99)
Just immediately after a powerful storm--another premonition of the events to come--that hit the Geneva area
I saw the lightnings playing on the summit of Mont Blanc in the most beautiful figures. The storm appeared to approach rapidly; and, on landing, I ascended a low hill, that I might observe its progress. It advanced; the heavens were clouded, and I soon felt the rain coming slowly in large drops, but its violence quickly increased.
I quitted my seat, and walked on, although the darkness and storm increased every minute, and the thunder burst with a terrific crash over my head. It was echoed from Saleve, the Juras, and the Alps of Savoy; vivid flashes of lightning dazzled my eyes, illuminating the lake, making it appear like a vast sheet of fire; then for an instant every thing seemed of a pitchy darkness, until the eye recovered itself from the preceding flash. The storm, as is often the case in Switzerland, appeared at once in various parts of the heavens. The most violent storm hung exactly north of the town, over that part of the lake which lies between the promontory of Belrive and the village of Copet. Another storm enlighted Jura with faint flashes; and another darkened and sometimes disclosed the Mole, a peaked mountain to the east of the lake. (Shelley 2005: 102)
Victor saw his Monster,
I perceived in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed, gazing intently:I could not be mistaken. A flash of lightning illuminated the object, and discovered its shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect, more hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was the wretch, the filthy daemon to whom I had given life. (Shelley 2005: 103)
and instantly understood the real truth about his brother's death: the Monster had killed him
The figure passed me quickly, and I lost it in the gloom. Nothing in human shape could have destroyed that fair child. He was the murderer! I could not doubt it. The mere presence of the idea was an irresistible proof of the fact. I thought of pursuing the devil; but it would have been in vain, for another flash discovered him to me hanging among the rocks of the nearly perpendicular ascent of Mont Saleve, a hill that bounds Plainpalais on the south. He soon reached the summit, and disappeared. (Shelley 2005: 103)
Remorse of a guilty scientist
Thus, Victor finally realized that, by his attempt to pursue the goal of creating a new "human being", he, and only he, was responsible for all the horrid sufferings his family was subjected to:
I revolved in my mind the events which I had until now sought to forget: the whole train of my progress towards the creation; the appearance of the work of my own hands alive at my bed side; its departure. Two years had now nearly elapsed since the night on which he first received life; and was this his first crime? Alas! I had turned loose into the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage and misery; had he not murdered my brother? (Shelley 2005:103)
The scientist-creator, the new God, was tormented by his guilt:
My imagination was busy in scenes of evil and despair. I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind, and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror, such as the deed which he had now done, nearly in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me. (Shelley 2005: 104)
Determined at first to reveal as soon as possible the identity of his brother's killer, Victor thought better of it as he would have been considered a madman who had just escaped from a lunatic asylum. Moreover, who could have ever found and captured a creature capable both of hiding so well and of climbing so easily over steep mountains:
I reflected on the story that I had to tell. A being whom I myself had formed, and endued with life, had met me at midnight among the precipices of an inaccessible mountain. I remembered also the nervous fever with which I had been seized just at the time that I dated my creation, and which would give an air of delirium to a tale otherwise so utterly improbable. I well knew that if any other had communicated such a relation to me, I should have looked upon it as the ravings of insanity. Besides, the strange nature of the animal would elude all pursuit, even if I were so far credited as to persuade my relatives to commence it. Besides, of what use would be pursuit? Who could arrest a creature capable of scaling the overhanging sides of Mont Saleve? These reflections determined me, and I resolved to remain silent.... 'Who could attempt to pursue him? It is impossible; one might as well try to overtake the winds, or confine a mountain-stream with a straw.' (Shelley 2005: 104-105)
After Justine Moritz's trial and execution for "killing" William, Victor's remorse became more and more severe, in spite of some moments when he recollected his past scientific activity:
A weight of despair and remorse pressed on my heart, which nothing could remove. Sleep fled from my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible, and more, much more, (I persuaded myself) was yet behind. Yet my heart overflowed with kindness, and the love of virtue. I had begun life with benevolent intentions, and thirsted for the moment when I should put them in practice, and make myself useful to my fellow-beings. Now all was blasted: instead of that serenity of conscience, which allowed me to look back upon the past with selfsatisfaction, and from thence to gather promise of new hopes, I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures, such as no language can describe. (Shelley 2005: 117)
Always thinking of Elizabeth, and of their possible happiness, his state of mind never changed both because "remorse extinguished every hope" and because he feared something more horrible could take place any time soon as a result of his "evil" deeds:
I had been the author of unalterable evils; and I lived in daily fear, lest the monster whom I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness. I had an obscure feeling that all was not over, and that he would still commit some signal crime, which by its enormity should almost efface the recollection of the past. There was always scope for fear, so long as any thing I loved remained behind. (Shelley 2005: 119)
All he wanted at that moment was revenge, not only on his creation:
My abhorrence of this fiend cannot be conceived. When I thought of him, I gnashed my teeth, my eyes became inflamed, and I ardently wished to extinguish that life which I had so thoughtlessly bestowed. When I reflected on his crimes and malice, my hatred and revenge burst all bounds of moderation. I would have made a pilgrimage to the highest peak of the Andes, could I, when there, have precipitated him to their base. I wished to see him again, that I might wreak the utmost extent of anger on his head, and avenge the deaths of William and Justine. (Shelley 2005: 119) but also on himself because
I, not in deed, but in effect, was the true murderer. (Shelley 2005: 120)
Creator versus Monster
To get some rest and peace of mind, Victor travelled, with his father, and Elizabeth, to Chamounix. Here, during a morning stroll by himself, Victor encountered the creature again:
I suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing towards me with superhuman speed. He bounded over the crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution; his stature also, as he approached, seemed to exceed that of man. I was troubled: a mist came over my eyes, and I felt a faintness seize me; but I was quickly restored by the cold gale of the mountains. I perceived, as the shape came nearer, (sight tremendous and abhorred!) that it was the wretch whom I had created. I trembled with rage and horror, resolving to wait his approach, and then close with him in mortal combat. He approached; his countenance bespoke bitter anguish, combined with disdain and malignity, while its unearthly ugliness rendered it almost too horrible for human eyes. But I scarcely observed this; anger and hatred had at first deprived me of utterance, and I recovered only to overwhelm him with words expressive of furious detestation and contempt. (Shelley 2005: 125)
Not being able to believe what he was seeing, Victor completely lost his temper:
'Devil!' I exclaimed, 'do you dare approach me? and do not you fear the fierce vengeance of my arm wreaked on your miserable head? Begone, vile insect! or rather stay, that I may trample you to dust! and, oh, that I could, with the extinction of your miserable existence, restore those victims whom you have so diabolically murdered!' (Shelley 2005: 125)
The answer Victor got from the Monster he had created might be considered a real meditation on life, death, and the destiny of any scientist who would want to play God:
'I expected this reception,' said the daemon. 'All men hate the wretched; how then must I be hated, who am miserable beyond all living things! Yet you, my creator, detest and spurn me, thy creature, to whom thou art bound by ties only dissoluble by the annihilation of one of us. You purpose to kill me. How dare you sport thus with life? Do your duty towards me, and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.' (Shelley 2005: 125)
Victor continued to verbally assault the creature before physically attacking him:
'Abhorred monster! fiend that thou art! the tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes. Wretched devil! you reproach me with your creation; come on then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed.' (Shelley 2005: 125-126)
The Monster replied with a touching pleading for life:
'I entreat you to hear me, before you give vent to your hatred on my devoted head. Have I not suffered enough, that you seek to increase my misery? Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.' (Shelley 2005: 126)
More than that, "he" was Victor's creation, a "being" deserving all the goodness and happiness in the world:
'Remember, thou hast made me more powerful than thyself; my height is superior to thine; my joints more supple. But I will not be tempted to set myself in opposition to thee. I am thy creature, and I will be even mild and docile to my natural lord and king, if thou wilt also perform thy part, the which thou owest me. Oh, Frankenstein, be not equitable to every other, and trample upon me alone, to whom thy justice, and even thy clemency and affection, is most due. Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Every where I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.' (Shelley 2005: 126)
Understanding that he was considered just an enemy ("There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies", Shelley 2005: 126), the Monster got everything out off his chest:
'Will no entreaties cause thee to turn a favourable eye upon thy creature, who implores thy goodness and compassion. Believe me, Frankenstein: I was benevolent; my soul glowed with love and humanity: but am I not alone, miserably alone? You, my creator, abhor me; what hope can I gather from your fellow-creatures, who owe me nothing? they spurn and hate me. The desert mountains and dreary glaciers are my refuge. I have wandered here many days; the caves of ice, which I only do not fear, are a dwelling to me, and the only one which man does not grudge. These bleak skies I hail, for they are kinder to me than your fellow-beings. If the multitude of mankind knew of my existence, they would do as you do, and arm themselves for my destruction. Shall I not then hate them who abhor me? I will keep no terms with my enemies. I am miserable, and they shall share my wretchedness.' (Shelley 2005: 126-127)
Only Victor--the true God as far as the Monster was concerned--would have the power to help him, instead of destroying for ever such an "unique" earthly creation:
'Yet it is in your power to recompense me, and deliver them from an evil which it only remains for you to make so great, that not only you and your family, but thousands of others, shall be swallowed up in the whirlwinds of its rage. Let your compassion be moved, and do not disdain me. Listen to my tale: when you have heard that, abandon or commiserate me, as you shall judge that I deserve. But hear me. The guilty are allowed, by human laws, bloody as they may be, to speak in their own defence before they are condemned. Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man! Yet I ask you not to spare me: listen to me; and then, if you can, and if you will, destroy the work of your hands.' (Shelley 2005: 127)
Victor could not help but cursing himself for his Promethean act:
'Why do you call to my remembrance circumstances of which I shudder to reflect, that I have been the miserable origin and author? Cursed be the day, abhorred devil, in which you first saw light! Cursed (although I curse myself) be the hands that formed you! You have made me wretched beyond expression. You have left me no power to consider whether I am just to you, or not. Begone! relieve me from the sight of your detested form.' (Shelley 2005: 127)
The Monster accepted the request but asked his creator to hear what he "felt" the "new" God should know:
'Thus I relieve thee, my creator,' he said, and placed his hated hands before my eyes, which I flung from me with violence; 'thus I take from thee a sight which you abhor. Still thou canst listen to me, and grant me thy compassion. By the virtues that I once possessed, I demand this from you. Hear my tale; it is long and strange.' (Shelley 2005: 127)
Earthly life of a man-made humanoid creature
In the Monster's opinion, a viable relationship between him and his creator should begin with the strange but simple story of his creation:
'A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt, at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses. By degrees, I remember, a stronger light pressed upon my nerves, so that I was obliged to shut my eyes. Darkness then came over me, and troubled me; but hardly had I felt this, when, by opening my eyes, as I now suppose, the light poured in upon me again. I walked, and, I believe, descended; but I presently found a great alteration in my sensations. Before, dark and opaque bodies had surrounded me, impervious to my touch or sight; but I now found that I could wander on at liberty, with no obstacles which I could not either surmount or avoid. The light became more and more oppressive to me; and, the heat wearying me as I walked, I sought a place where I could receive shade. This was the forest near Ingolstadt; and here I lay by the side of a brook resting from my fatigue, until I felt tormented by hunger and thirst. This roused me from my nearly dormant state, and I ate some berries which I found hanging on the trees, or lying on the ground. I slaked my thirst at the brook; and then lying down, was overcome by sleep. It was dark when I awoke; I felt cold also, and halffrightened as it were instinctively, finding myself so desolate. Before I had quitted your apartment, on a sensation of cold, I had covered myself with some clothes; but these were insufficient to secure me from the dews of night. I was a poor, helpless, miserable wretch; I knew, and could distinguish, nothing; but, feeling pain invade me on all sides, I sat down and wept.... Several changes of day and night passed, and the orb of night had greatly lessened when I began to distinguish my sensations from each other.... I was delighted when I first discovered that a pleasant sound, which often saluted my ears, proceeded from the throats of the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes. I began also to observe, with greater accuracy, the forms that surrounded me, and to perceive the boundaries of the radiant roof of light which canopied me. Sometimes I tried to imitate the pleasant songs of the birds, but was unable. Sometimes I wished to express my sensations in my own mode, but the uncouth and inarticulate sounds which broke from me frightened me into silence again.... My sensations had, by this time, become distinct, and my mind received every day additional ideas. My eyes became accustomed to the light, and to perceive objects in their right forms; I distinguished the insect from the herb, and, by degrees, one herb from another. I found that the sparrow uttered none but harsh notes, whilst those of the blackbird and thrush were sweet and enticing.' (Shelley 2005: 128-130)
The discovery of a fire brought joy to the creature, the same joy a cavern man must have felt thousands of years before:
'One day, when I was oppressed by cold, I found a fire which had been left by some wandering beggars, and was overcome with delight at the warmth I experienced from it. In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out again with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought, that the same cause should produce such opposite effects!' I examined the materials of the fire, and to my joy found it to be composed of-wood. I quickly collected some branches; but they were wet, and would not burn. I was pained at this, and sat still watching the operation of the fire. The wet wood which I had placed near the heat dried, and itself became inflamed. I reflected on this; and, by touching the various branches, I discovered the cause, and busied myself in collecting a great quantity of wood, that I might dry it, and have a plentiful supply of fire. When night came on, and brought sleep with it, I was in the greatest fear lest my fire should be extinguished. I covered it carefully with dry wood and leaves, and placed wet branches upon it; and then, spreading my cloak, I lay on the ground, and sunk into sleep.... When night came again, I found, with pleasure, that the fire gave light as well as heat; and that the discovery of this element was useful to me in my food. (Shelley 2005: 130-131)
All that the creature wanted was food and shelter:
'Food, however, became scarce; and I often spent the whole day searching in vain for a few acorns to assuage the pangs of hunger.... It was about seven in the morning, and I longed to obtain food and shelter; at length I perceived a small hut, on a rising ground, which had doubtless been built for the convenience of some shepherd. This was a new sight to me; and I examined the structure with great curiosity. Finding the door open, I entered.' (Shelley 2005: 131)
Thus, the "new" human being met for the first time the "old" one:
'An old man sat in it, near a fire, over which he was preparing his breakfast. He turned on hearing a noise; and, perceiving me, shrieked loudly, and, quitting the hut, ran across the fields with a speed of which his debilitated form hardly appeared capable. His appearance, different from any I had ever before seen, and his flight, somewhat surprised me.' (Shelley 2005:131-132)
and, later, the inhabitants of a village:
'How miraculous did this appear! the huts, the neater cottages, and stately houses, engaged my admiration by turns. The vegetables in the gardens, the milk and cheese that I saw placed at the windows of some of the cottages, allured my appetite. One of the best of these I entered; but I had hardly placed my foot within the door, before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped to the open country.' (Shelley 2005: 132)
Mental evolution of a humanoid creature
Finding refuge, near a "neat and pleasant cottage", in a wooden hovel ("a paradise, compared to the bleak forest, my former residence, the rain-dropping branches, and dank earth", Shelley 2005: 133), the creature "made acquaintance" with his neighbours, an old man, a young girl, a young man, and, some months later, a young woman, all living in poverty, their nourishment consisting entirely "of the vegetables of their garden, and the milk of one cow." That was the reason why, instead of stealing food as he had done before, he lived for a period only on "berries, nuts, and roots" gathered from a near-by forest. Seeing--and realizing--that "the youth spent a great part of each day in collecting wood for the family fire", the creature decided to help them stacking a "great pile of wood" (Shelley 2005: 137) he had cut from the forest. Not after long, the creature found out that
these people possessed a method of communicating their experience and feelings to one another by articulate sounds. I perceived that the words they spoke sometimes produced pleasure or pain, smiles or sadness, in the minds and countenances of the hearers. This was indeed a godlike science, and I ardently desired to become acquainted with it. (Shelley 2005: 137)
However, the creature encountered difficulties in understanding what his human neighbours were saying:
'I was baffled in every attempt I made for this purpose. Their pronunciation was quick; and the words they uttered, not having any apparent connexion with visible objects, I was unable to discover any clue by which I could unravel the mystery of their reference. By great application, however, and after having remained during the space of several revolutions of the moon in my hovel, I discovered the names that were given to some of the most familiar objects of discourse: I learned and applied the words fire, milk, bread, and wood. I learned also the names of the cottagers themselves. The youth and his companion had each of them several names, but the old man had only one, which was father. The girl was called sister, or Agatha; and the youth Felix, brother, or son. I cannot describe the delight I felt when I learned the ideas appropriated to each of these sounds, and was able to pronounce them. I distinguished several other words, without being able as yet to understand or apply them; such as good, dearest, unhappy.' (Shelley 2005: 137-138)
The creature's mental evolution continued with the understanding of something called "reading", something absolutely compulsory for his possible future life:
'This reading had puzzled me extremely at first; but, by degrees, I discovered that he uttered many of the same sounds when he read as when he talked. I conjectured, therefore, that he found on the paper signs for speech which he understood, and I ardently longed to comprehend these also; but how was that possible, when I did not even understand the sounds for which they stood as signs? I improved, however, sensibly in this science, but not sufficiently to follow up any kind of conversation, although I applied my whole mind to the endeavour: for I easily perceived that, although I eagerly longed to discover myself to the cottagers, I ought not to make the attempt until I had first become master of their language; which knowledge might enable me to make them overlook the deformity of my figure; for with this also the contrast perpetually presented to my eyes had made me acquainted.' (Shelley 2005: 139)
The difference between the "perfect" aspect of his four nearby human beings and the "deformity" of himself came as an ultimate shock:
'I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers--their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how was I terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool! At first I started back, unable to believe that it was indeed I who was reflected in the mirror; and when I became fully convinced that I was in reality the monster that I am, I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity.' (Shelley 2005: 139)
Gradually, the creature's "art of language" improved by hard work:
'These thoughts exhilarated me, and led me to apply with fresh ardour to the acquiring the art of language. My organs were indeed harsh, but supple; and although my voice was very unlike the soft music of their tones, yet I pronounced such words as I understood with tolerable ease. It was as the ass and the lap-dog; yet surely the gentle ass, whose intentions were affectionate, although his manners were rude, deserved better treatment than blows and execration.... My days were spent in close attention, that I might more speedily master the language; and I may boast that I improved more rapidly.' (Shelley 2005:141, 144)
And, very soon, he learned the "science of letters" by hearing the young Felix reading Volney's Ruins of Empires to Safie, his wife. This narrative gave him a "cursory knowledge of history" and an "insight into the manners, governments, and religions of the different nations of the earth." (Shelley 2005: 144), but also brought up some kind of existential problems:
'Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil principle, and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased, and I turned away with disgust and loathing.' (Shelley 2005: 144-145)
This was the moment when the Monster chose to speak about man, in general, and about his coming to life, and his creator, in particular:
'I learned that the possessions most esteemed by your fellow-creatures were, high and unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be respected with only one of these acquisitions; but without either he was considered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profit of the chosen few. And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant; but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides, endowed with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they, and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded their's. When I looked around, I saw and heard of none like me. Was I then a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled, and whom all men disowned?' (Shelley 2005: 145-146)
The sensations of solitude and pain could be overcome only by "death, a state which I feared yet did not understand", in spite of the creature's desire to become "one among my fellows." (Shelley 2005: 146). Some more existential problems came up:
'But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. From my earliest remembrance I had been as I then was in height and proportion. I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans.' (Shelley 2005: 146-147)
Looking upon crime as a "distant evil" (Shelley 2005: 152), and reading books such as Milton's Paradise Lost, Goethe's Sorrows of Werther, or Plutarch's Lives, the creature felt both "ecstasy" and the "lowest dejection", but being "unformed in mind", "dependent on none, and related to none" (Shelley 2005: 153), he could not help thinking about his own destiny:
'The path of my departure was free; and there was none to lament my annihilation. My person was hideous, and my stature gigantic: what did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination?' (Shelley 2005: 153)
Deeply affected by Paradise Lost, Victor's "child" thought that
'Like Adam, I was created apparently united by no link to any other being in existence; but his state was far different from mine in every other respect. He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator; he was allowed to converse with, and acquire knowledge from beings of a superior nature: but I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition; for often, like him, when I viewed the bliss of my protectors, the bitter gall of envy rose within me.' (Shelley 2005: 154)
A turning point in the evolution of the creature's mind was the discovery of some papers in the pocket of the coat stolen from Victor's laboratory, papers which disclosed the truth about the way a monster could be created by a scholar:
'At first I had neglected them; but now that I was able to decypher the characters in which they were written, I began to study them with diligence. It was your journal of the four months that preceded my creation. You minutely described in these papers every step you took in the progress of your work; this history was mingled with accounts of domestic occurrences.... Every thing is related in them which bears reference to my accursed origin; the whole detail of that series of disgusting circumstances which produced it is set in view; the minutest description of my odious and loathsome person is given, in language which painted your own horrors, and rendered mine ineffaceable. I sickened as I read.' (Shelley 2005: 155)
And the only one to blame--and curse--was Victor, the scientist who had wanted to play God, the creator who would later abandon the "work" of a lifetime:
'Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed in agony. Cursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust? God in pity made man beautiful and alluring, after his own image; but my form is a filthy type of your's, more horrid from its very resemblance. Satan had his companions, fellow-devils, to admire and encourage him; but I am solitary and detested.' (Shelley 2005: 155)
Plucking up courage, the Monster decided to speak about his problems to the old man in the near-by cottage:
'I am an unfortunate and deserted creature; I look around, and I have no relation or friend upon earth. These amiable people to whom I go have never seen me, and know little of me. I am full of fears; for if I fail there, I am an outcast in the world for ever.... [These friends] are the most excellent creatures in the world; but, unfortunately, they are prejudiced against me. I have good dispositions; my life has been hitherto harmless, and, in some degree, beneficial; but a fatal prejudice clouds their eyes, and where they ought to see a feeling and kind friend, they behold only a detestable monster.' (Shelley 2005: 158-159)
What he really needed were friends, and these could only be the old man and his family. While he was saying this to the old man, his daughter, his son, and Safie, returned home; Felix attacked the Monster and hit it with a stick; the latter, although he could have easily torn the young man into pieces, chose to flee while cursing Victor:
'Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge.' (Shelley 2005: 160)
Feeling like the "arch fiend", and tormented by "a hell within", the Monster swore vengeance toward his pitiless enemies, especially to everybody related with his human creator:
'There was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent me forth to this insupportable misery.' (Shelley 2005: 161)
Monster's revenge rampage
After the sudden departure of his former "protectors", the De Lacey family, the Monster, in a state of "utter and stupid despair", decided to bend his "mind towards injury and death" and to erase any traces of the past by setting the cottage, and everything around, on fire. Then, "with the world before" he set out to find the "unfeeling, heartless creator", from whom "only could [he] hope for succour, although towards [whom he] felt no sentiment but that of hatred" (Shelley 2005: 164), a creator who had endowed me with perceptions and passions, and then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and horror of mankind. But on you only had I any claim for pity and redress, and from you I determined to seek that justice which I vainly attempted to gain from any other being that wore the human form. (Shelley 2005: 164)
The creature could think only of revenge because
the mildness of my nature had fled, and all within me was turned to gall and bitterness. The nearer I approached to your habitation, the more deeply did I feel the spirit of revenge enkindled in my heart. (Shelley 2005: 164)
Being shot after trying to save a young girl from drowning, he recovered enough to resume the trip to Geneva. One evening, a fatal turning-point took place: the meeting with a beautiful child who surely "was unprejudiced, and had lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity" (Shelley 2005: 166), thus being easy to educate as a "companion and friend" so that he should feel not "so desolate in this peopled earth" (Shelley 2005: 167). In a rage after hearing the child's invectives ("monster! ugly wretch! You wish to eat me, and tear me to pieces--You are an ogre ... hideous monster", Shelley 2005: 167) and finding out he was a Frankenstein, the Monster decided the kid would become the first victim of his revenge:
I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and hellish triumph: clapping my hands, I exclaimed, 'I, too, can create desolation; my enemy is not impregnable; this death will carry despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shall torment and destroy him.' (Shelley 2005: 167)
The child had a portrait on his breast, a portrait of a "most lovely woman" with "dark eyes, fringed by deep lashes, and lovely lips" (Shelley 2005: 167), a woman who would look at himself only with "disgust and affright". Taking the portrait, the creature went on to find a hiding place; entering an apparently empty barn, he stumbled upon a sleeping woman and placed the portrait, as planted evidence, in one of the folds of her dress. This was a decisive scene for the future development of the events:
I bent over her, and whispered "Awake, fairest, thy lover is near--he who would give his life but to obtain one look of affection from thine eyes: my beloved, awake!" The sleeper stirred; a thrill of terror ran through me. Should she indeed awake, and see me, and curse me, and denounce the murderer? Thus would she assuredly act, if her darkened eyes opened, and she beheld me. The thought was madness; it stirred the fiend within me--not I, but she shall suffer: the murder I have committed because I am for ever robbed of all that she could give me, she shall atone. The crime had its source in her: be hers the punishment! (1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 342)
This was the very moment when the Monster thought to ask for a female companion:
You must create a female for me, with whom I can live in the interchange of those sympathies necessary for my being. This you alone can do; and I demand it of you as a right which you must not refuse. (Shelley 2005: 168-169)
Victor's answer was peremptory:
'I do refuse it,' I replied; 'and no torture shall ever extort a consent from me. You may render me the most miserable of men, but you shall never make me base in my own eyes. Shall I create another like yourself, whose joint wickedness might desolate the world. Begone! I have answered you; you may torture me, but I will never consent.' (Shelley 2005: 169)
The reply of the "fiend" was a sketch of his condition, and another oath of revenge:
I am malicious because I am miserable; am I not shunned and hated by all mankind? You, my creator, would tear me to pieces, and triumph; remember that, and tell me why I should pity man more than he pities me? You would not call it murder, if you could precipitate me into one of those ice-rifts, and destroy my frame, the work of your own hands. Shall I respect man, when he contemns me? Let him live with me in the interchange of kindness, and, instead of injury, I would bestow every benefit upon him with tears of gratitude at his acceptance. But that cannot be; the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union. Yet mine shall not be the submission of abject slavery. I will revenge my injuries: if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear; and chiefly towards you my archenemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred. Have a care: I will work at your destruction, nor finish until I desolate your heart, so that you curse the hour of your birth. (Shelley 2005: 169)
However, a way of reconciliation could be worked out:
I intended to reason. This passion is detrimental to me; for you do not reflect that you are the cause of its excess. If any being felt emotions of benevolence towards me, I should return them an hundred and an hundred fold; for that one creature's sake, I would make peace with the whole kind! But I now indulge in dreams of bliss that cannot be realized. What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself: the gratification is small, but it is all that I can receive, and it shall content me. It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another. Our lives will not be happy, but they will be harmless, and free from the misery I now feel. Oh! my creator, make me happy; let me feel gratitude towards you for one benefit! Let me see that I excite the sympathy of some existing thing; do not deny me my request! (Shelley 2005: 169-170)
The Monster and his female companion would thus be a happy couple, living outside the world of the human beings:
Neither you nor any other human being shall ever see us again: I will go to the vast wilds of South America. My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid, to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment. My companion will be of the same nature as myself, and will be content with the same fare. We shall make our bed of dried leaves; the sun will shine on us as on man, and will ripen our food. The picture I present to you is peaceful and human, and you must feel that you could deny it only in the wantonness of power and cruelty.... I swear to you, by the earth which I inhabit, and by you that made me, that, with the companion you bestow, I will quit the neighbourhood of man, and dwell, as it may chance, in the most savage of places. My evil passions will have fled, for I shall meet with sympathy; my life will flow quietly away, and, in my dying moments, I shall not curse my maker. (Shelley 2005: 170-171)
The Monster would become just a "thing" capable only of hatred and of the worst imaginable crimes:
If I have no ties and no affections, hatred and vice must be my portion; the love of another will destroy the cause of my crimes, and I shall become a thing, of whose existence every one will be ignorant. My vices are the children of a forced solitude that I abhor; and my virtues will necessarily arise when I live in communion with an equal. I shall feel the affections of a sensitive being, and become linked to the chain of existence and events, from which I am now excluded. (Shelley 2005: 171-172)
a creature who could exist in the ice caves of the glaciers, and hide himself from pursuit among the ridges of inaccessible precipices, was a being possessing faculties it would be vain to cope with (Shelley 2005: 172)
Victor Frankenstein consented to deliver a "female" who would accompany the Monster in his self-imposed exile. The Monster agreed, swearing
by the sun, and by the blue sky of heaven, [and by the fire of love that burns my heart; 1831 edition, Shelley 2005: 342] that if you grant my prayer, while they exist you shall never behold me again. Depart to your home, and commence your labours: I shall watch their progress with unutterable anxiety; and fear not but that when you are ready I shall appear. (Shelley 2005: 172)
Having thought that a journey to England should be better suited for his future "undertaking" than a "long correspondence with those philosophers of that country, whose knowledge and discoveries were of indispensable use" (Shelley 2005: 177), Victor decided to make the trip, hoping that either the Monster would be destroyed by some accident, or he would accompany his creator wherever he might go; this being the only way the Frankensteins would be saved from the fiend's revenge.
After visiting London, Oxford, and Edinburgh, Victor set his laboratory on one of the remotest islands of the Orkneys to complete the "filthy process" he had engaged himself into. His state of mind was extremely different:
During my first experiment, a kind of enthusiastic frenzy had blinded me to the horror of my employment; my mind was intently fixed on the sequel of my labour, and my eyes were shut to the horror of my proceedings. But now I went to it in cold blood, and my heart often sickened at the work of my hands.... I worked on, and my labour was already considerably advanced. I looked towards its completion with a tremulous and eager hope, which I dared not trust myself to question, but which was intermixed with obscure forebodings of evil, that made my heart sicken in my bosom. (Shelley 2005: 189)
Victor considered from time to time the results of his scientific endeavour, debating the possibility that his "new" creation might not accept the "older" one:
Three years before I was engaged in the same manner, and had created a fiend whose unparalleled barbarity had desolated my heart, and filled it for ever with the bitterest remorse. I was now about to form another being, of whose dispositions I was alike ignorant; she might become ten thousand times more malignant than her mate, and delight, for its own sake, in murder and wretchedness. He had sworn to quit the neighbourhood of man, and hide himself in deserts; but she had not; and she, who in all probability was to become a thinking and reasoning animal, might refuse to comply with a compact made before her creation. They might even hate each other; the creature who already lived loathed his own deformity, and might he not conceive a greater abhorence for it when it came before his eyes in the female form? She also might turn with disgust from him to the superior beauty of man; she might quit him, and he be again alone, exasperated by the fresh provocation of being deserted by one of his own species. (Shelley 2005: 190)
The scholar was also wondering if, on the long run, his two creations could not become a real scourge for human beings, no matter where they would finally settle:
One of the first results of those sympathies for which the daemon thirsted would be children, and a race of devils would be propagated upon the earth, who might make the very existence of the species of man a condition precarious and full of terror. (Shelley 2005:190)
Was Victor ready to take this responsibility on himself? Could he go on living near his family knowing what perils he had brought on Earth?
Had I a right, for my own benefit, to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? I had before been moved by the sophisms of the being I had created; I had been struck senseless by his fiendish threats: but now, for the first time, the wickedness of my promise burst upon me; I shuddered to think that future ages might curse me as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price perhaps of the existence of the whole human race. (Shelley 2005:190)
Thus, Victor's conscience made him destroy his new creation. Unfortunately, the Monster who had followed the scientist to England, saw him destroy the expected companion, and swore revenge before vanishing in the night:
I saw, by the light of the moon, the daemon at the casement. A ghastly grin wrinkled his lips as he gazed on me, where I sat fulfilling the task which he had allotted to me. Yes, he had followed me in my travels; he had loitered in forests, hid himself in caves, or taken refuge in wide and desert heaths; and he now came to mark my progress, and claim the fulfilment of my promise. As I looked on him, his countenance expressed the utmost extent of malice and treachery. I thought with a sensation of madness on my promise of creating another like to him, and, trembling with passion, tore to pieces the thing on which I was engaged. The wretch saw me destroy the creature on whose future existence he depended for happiness, and, with a howl of devilish despair and revenge, withdrew. (Shelley 2005: 190-191)
However, the Monster showed up after a few hours to confront his creator:
You have destroyed the work which you began; what is it that you intend? Do you dare to break your promise? I have endured toil and misery.... I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes? (Shelley 2005: 192)
The Monster decided he himself should be the real master, not his creator:
'Slave, I before reasoned with you, but you have proved yourself unworthy of my condescension. Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master;--obey!' (Shelley 2005: 192)
Unfortunately, Victor's peremptory answer concerning his past "weakness" would unleash the future horrific events:
Begone! I do break my promise; never will I create another like yourself, equal in deformity and wickedness.... The hour of my weakness is past, and the period of your power is arrived. Your threats cannot move me to do an act of wickedness; but they confirm me in a resolution of not creating you a companion in vice. Shall I, in cool blood, set loose upon the earth a daemon, whose delight is in death and wretchedness. Begone! I am firm, and your words will only exasperate my rage. (Shelley 2005: 192)
As the Monster understood that his desire to have a female companion could no longer be fulfilled, he made his last and final warning appealing to the right of "each man" to have a "mate":
'Shall each man,' cried he, 'find a wife for his bosom, and each beast have his mate, and I be alone? I had feelings of affection, and they were requited by detestation and scorn. Man, you may hate; but beware! Your hours will pass in dread and misery, and soon the bolt will fall which must ravish from you your happiness for ever. Are you to be happy, while I grovel in the intensity of my wretchedness? You can blast my other passions; but revenge remains--revenge, henceforth dearer than light or food! I may die; but first you, my tyrant and tormentor, shall curse the sun that gazes on your misery. Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful. I will watch with the wiliness of a snake, that I may sting with its venom. Man, you shall repent of the injuries you inflict.... I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night.' (Shelley 2005: 192-193)
Victor's reply was equally frightening:
'Villain! before you sign my death-warrant, be sure that you are yourself safe.' (Shelley 2005: 193)
despite the fact that his wedding-night would seem to be
the period fixed for the fulfilment of my destiny. In that hour I should die, and at once satisfy and extinguish his malice. The prospect did not move me to fear; yet when I thought of my beloved Elizabeth,--of her tears and endless sorrow, when she should find her lover so barbarously snatched from her,--tears, the first I had shed for many months, streamed from my eyes, and I resolved not to fall before my enemy without a bitter struggle. (Shelley 2005: 193)
Before leaving the island, Victor got rid both of his scientific equipment in his laboratory and of the "remains of the half-finished creature", although in that very moment he felt as if he "had mangled the living flesh of a human being" (Shelley 2005: 194). He did not think for a second he could ever resume his work:
I had resolved in my own mind, that to create another like the fiend I had first made would be an act of the basest and most atrocious selfishness; and I banished from my mind every thought that could lead to a different conclusion. (Shelley 2005: 195)
The final ordeal of a mad scientist
Victor's problems were just beginning. Sailing away from the island, he was driven by wind and waves to a small Irish town where he was arrested for allegedly murdering a man who, to his great dismay, turned out to be his friend Henry Clerval. There followed two months of fever, but being "doomed to live" (Shelley 2005: 201), he, "the most miserable of mortals" (Shelley 2005: 203), recovered enough to stand trial; although "overcome by gloom and misery", he often considered he "had better seek death than remain miserably pent up only to be let loose in a world replete with wretchedness" (Shelley 2005: 202). Found not guilty, Victor's "general state of feeling was a torpor", and he was often thinking to put an end to the "existence" he loathed because, as some people said, he "may be innocent of the murder, but he has certainly a bad conscience" (Shelley 2005: 206). Together with his father, Victor left Ireland by ship, heading for Geneva. A frightful dream in which his entire life was unwinding in his mind horrified him:
The past appeared to me in the light of a frightful dream; yet the vessel in which I was, the wind that blew me from the detested shore of Ireland, and the sea which surrounded me, told me too forcibly that I was deceived by no vision, and that Clerval, my friend and dearest companion, had fallen a victim to me and the monster of my creation. I repassed, in my memory, my whole life; my quiet happiness while residing with my family in Geneva, the death of my mother, and my departure for Ingolstadt. I remembered shuddering at the mad enthusiasm that hurried me on to the creation of my hideous enemy, and I called to mind the night during which he first lived. I was unable to pursue the train of thought; a thousand feelings pressed upon me, and I wept bitterly.... Towards morning I was possessed by a kind of night-mare; I felt the fiend's grasp in my neck, and could not free myself from it; groans and cries rung in my ears. (Shelley 2005: 207)
One day, full of biterness and remorse, when speaking to his father, Victor could not help but accuse himself despite the risk of being considered a lunatic:
Human beings, their feelings and passions, would indeed be degraded, if such a wretch as I felt pride. Justine, poor unhappy Justine, was as innocent as I, and she suffered the same charge; she died for it; and I am the cause of this--I murdered her. William, Justine, and Henry--they all died by my hands. (Shelley 2005: 208)
The reason was a simple and altruistic one: the preservation of the human race as such:
I am the assassin of those most innocent victims; they died by my machinations. A thousand times would I have shed my own blood, drop by drop, to have saved their lives; but I could not, my father, indeed I could not sacrifice the whole human race. (Shelley 2005: 209)
The letter Victor had received from Elizabeth started other qualms of conscience connected both with his future marriage and the promise of the Monster to take revenge on his wedding night:
On that night would the daemon employ every art to destroy me, and tear me from the glimpse of happiness which promised partly to console my sufferings. On that night he had determined to consummate his crimes by my death. Well, be it so; a deadly struggle would then assuredly take place, in which if he was victorious, I should be at peace, and his power over me be at an end. If he were vanquished, I should be a free man.... Yet I would die to make her happy. If the monster executed his threat, death was inevitable; yet, again, I considered whether my marriage would hasten my fate. My destruction might indeed arrive a few months sooner; but if my torturer should suspect that I postponed it, influenced by his menaces, he would surely find other, and perhaps more dreadful means of revenge. He had vowed to be with me on my wedding-night, yet he did not consider that threat as binding him to peace in the mean time; for, as if to shew me that he was not yet satiated with blood, he had murdered Clerval immediately after the enunciation of his threats. I resolved, therefore, that if my immediate union with my cousin would conduce either to her's or my father's happiness, my adversary's designs against my life should not retard it a single hour. (Shelley 2005: 211-212)
Victor revealed to his future wife he had a terrible secret which might badly influenced their life together:
I have one secret, Elizabeth, a dreadful one; when revealed to you, it will chill your frame with horror, and then, far from being surprised at my misery, you will only wonder that I survive what I have endured. I will confide this tale of misery and terror to you the day after our marriage shall take place; for, my sweet cousin, there must be perfect confidence between us. (Shelley 2005: 212)
Not correctly understanding the Monster's threat, Victor decided the wedding should take place in only ten days, thus bringing only another death in his family:
Great God! if for one instant I had thought what might be the hellish intention of my fiendish adversary, I would rather have banished myself for ever from my native country, and wandered a friendless outcast over the earth, than have consented to this miserable marriage. But, as if possessed of magic powers, the monster had blinded me to his real intentions; and when I thought that I prepared only my own death, I hastened that of a far dearer victim. (Shelley 2005: 214)
Thinking that only he would be the target of the Monster, Victor, on constant watch, always carried two pistols and a dagger on himself. Soon, the threat seemed just a delusion, although a sort of premonition made Elizabeth declare:
Something whispers to me not to depend too much on the prospect that is opened before us; but I will not listen to such a sinister voice. (Shelley 2005: 216)
The weather changed for the worse as a bad omen for the horrific climax to come:
The wind, which had fallen in the south, now rose with great violence in the west. The moon had reached her summit in the heavens, and was beginning to descend; the clouds swept across it swifter than the flight of the vulture, and dimmed her rays, while the lake reflected the scene of the busy heavens, rendered still busier by the restless waves that were beginning to rise. Suddenly a heavy storm of rain descended. (Shelley 2005: 217)
Victor's anxiety and fears surfaced again, this time well-grounded when from Elizabeth's room he heard "a shrill and dreadful scream." The "purest creature on earth"
was there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down, and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair [with] her bloodless arms and relaxed form flung by the murderer on its bridal bier.... the deathly languor and coldness of the limbs told me, that what I now held in my arms had ceased to be the Elizabeth whom I had loved and cherished. The murderous mark of the fiend's grasp was on her neck, and the breath had ceased to issue from her lips (Shelley 2005: 218)
At the window through whose shutters the pale rays of the moon illuminated the ghastly scene, Victor saw the
figure the most hideous and abhorred. A grin was on the face of the monster; he seemed to jeer, as with his fiendish finger he pointed towards the corpse of my wife. (Shelley 2005: 218-219)
then the killer-creature disappeared, not having been hit by Victor's pistol shot.
This entire scene, obviously influenced by Henry Fuseli's well-known 1781 painting The Nightmare (Frayling 1996: 31), seemed to be connected with Victor's dream of Elizabeth, being, in fact, "a nightmare which included Frankenstein's dream, as a dream-within-a-dream" (Frayling 1996: 32). Considering the above-quoted fragment from the Preface to the 1831 edition (Shelley 2005: 357), the nightmare could have five components: 1) "the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling himself beside the thing he had put together", allusion to necromancy, as Shelley probably read Der Geisterbanner, published in 1792 by Lawrence Flammenberg [Karl Friedrich Kahlert & Bernard Stein], translated into English as The Necromancer; or, The Tale of the Black Forest, 1794; 2) the creation itself, on the "working of some powerful engine", possibly a sexual reference; 3) the artist-scientist "rushing away" when he saw what he had done; 4) the sleep of the creator and fantasy about "the silence of the grave"; 5) the "horrid thing opening his curtains", waking him up and staring at him. (Frayling 1996: 32)
And Victor's misfortunes were not to end here. His father died a few days after Elizabeth's murder. The scholar, psychically a wreck, and considered mad by his fellows, found himselflocked in a dungeon. A month after being released, he told the entire story to a magistrate. Shuddered with horror, deeply surprised, and "unmingled with disbelief", he finally declared that tracking the Monster would be an impossible endeavour:
The creature of whom you speak appears to have powers which would put all my exertions to defiance. Who can follow an animal which can traverse the sea of ice, and inhabit caves and dens, where no man would venture to intrude? Besides, some months have elapsed since the commission of his crimes, and no one can conjecture to what place he has wandered, or what region he may now inhabit.... If it is in my power to seize the monster, be assured that he shall suffer punishment proportionate to his crimes. But I fear, from what you have yourself described to be his properties, that this will prove impracticable. (Shelley 2005: 222)
Victor's blunt reply was, in fact, the decision of an exceptional scientist who might have changed the human history by his daring project, but one who, instead, chose to destroy forever the results of a lifetime work:
My revenge ... while I allow it to be a vice, I confess that it is the devouring and only passion of my soul. My rage is unspeakable, when I reflect that the murderer, whom I have turned loose upon society, still exists.... I have but one resource; and I devote myself, either in my life or death, to his destruction. (Shelley 2005: 222-223)
Thus, "cursed by some devil" and carrying his "eternal hell" (Shelley 2005: 225), Victor began his chase of revenge, tracking the Monster from Geneva to the Mediterranean Sea, from the Black Sea to the Tartary deserts, from the steppes of Russia to the Arctic white deadly lands. And often he did find scorning inscriptions and marks scribbled down by his everlasting enemy:
My reign is not yet over, ... you live, and my power is complete. Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north, where you will feel the misery of cold and frost, to which I am impassive. You will find near this place, if you follow not too tardily, a dead hare; eat, and be refreshed. Come on, my enemy; we have yet to wrestle for our lives; but many hard and miserable hours must you endure, until that period shall arrive.... Prepare! your toils only begin: wrap yourself in furs, and provide food, for we shall soon enter upon a journey where your sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred. (Shelley 2005: 226-227)
But to no avail. When only a mile away from the sledge of his enemy, a frightful storm broke out, and Victor's chase came to an end:
A ground sea was heard; the thunder of its progress, as the waters rolled and swelled beneath me, became every moment more ominous and terrific. I pressed on, but in vain. The wind arose; the sea roared; and, as with the mighty shock of an earthquake, it split, and cracked with a tremendous and overwhelming sound. The work was soon finished: in a few minutes a tumultuous sea rolled between me and my enemy, and I was left drifting on a scattered piece of ice, that was continually lessening, and thus preparing for me a hideous death. (Shelley 2005: 230)
Almost exhausted, he had the good fortune to be rescued by some sailors from Captain Walton's ship.
During his long discussions with Walton, Victor stated, on two occasions, both his goal in life and his scientific creed. Firstly, the scientist focused on his youthful dreams of success:
When younger, I felt as if I were destined for some great enterprise. My feelings are profound; but I possessed a coolness of judgment that fitted me for illustrious achievements. This sentiment of the worth of my nature supported me, when others would have been oppressed; for I deemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those talents that might be useful to my fellow-creatures. When I reflected on the work I had completed, no less a one than the creation of a sensitive and rational animal, I could not rank myself with the herd of common projectors. But this feeling, which supported me in the commencement of my career, now serves only to plunge me lower in the dust. All my speculations and hopes are as nothing; and, like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell. My imagination was vivid, yet my powers of analysis and application were intense; by the union of these qualities I conceived the idea, and executed the creation of a man. Even now I cannot recollect, without passion, my reveries while the work was incomplete. I trod heaven in my thoughts, now exulting in my powers, now burning with the idea of their effects. From my infancy I was imbued with high hopes and a lofty ambition; but how am I sunk! ... Despondency rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed to bear me on, until I fell, never, never again to rise. (Shelley 2005: 232-233)
Then, on his death-bed, Victor did not seem to show any regret for giving "life" to a "monster", and hoped other confreres would continue the work he had begun and would achieve some real success. Finally, he spoke about his unfulfilled duty to revenge his family by destroying his own creation:
I feel myself justified in desiring the death of my adversary. During these last days I have been occupied in examining my past conduct; nor do I find it blameable. In a fit of enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature, and was bound towards him, to assure, as far as was in my power, his happiness and well-being. This was my duty; but there was another still paramount to that. My duties towards my fellow-creatures had greater claims to my attention, because they included a greater proportion of happiness or misery. Urged by this view, I refused, and I did right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature. He shewed unparalleled malignity and selfishness, in evil: he destroyed my friends; he devoted to destruction beings who possessed exquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I know where this thirst for vengeance may end. Miserable himself, that he may render no other wretched, he ought to die. The task of his destruction was mine, but I have failed.... That he should live to be an instrument of mischief disturbs me; in other respects this hour, when I momentarily expect my release, is the only happy one which I have enjoyed for several years. The forms of the beloved dead flit before me, and I hasten to their arms. (Shelley 2005: 238-239)
Thus, Victor's life ended. But his scientific work was not, a fact ackowledged even by the Monster--"gigantic in stature, yet uncouth and distorted in its proportions", with his "loathsome, yet appalling hideousness" face "concealed by long locks of ragged hair", "one vast hand extended, in colour and apparent texture like that of a mummy", and a "suffocated" voice uttering "wild and incoherent self-reproaches" (Shelley 2005: 240)--in front of Victor's motionless body:
'That is also my victim!' he exclaimed; 'in his murder my crimes are consummated; the miserable series of my being is wound to its close! Oh, Frankenstein! generous and self-devoted being! what does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thou lovedst. Alas! he is cold; he may not answer me.' (Shelley 2005: 240)
But, in the Monster's mind, Victor was responsible not only for every misfortune he had suffered, but also for the dreadful pains the creator inflicted upon his own creation:
Do you think that I was then dead to agony and remorse? ... He suffered not more in the consummation of the deed; oh! not the ten-thousandth portion of the anguish that was mine during the lingering detail of its execution. A frightful selfishness hurried me on, while my heart was poisoned with remorse. Think ye that the groans of Clerval were music to my ears? My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy; and, when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture, such as you cannot even imagine. (Shelley 2005: 241)
One could speak here of the tormented soul of a "Monster-being" who was forced to choose between the "love" for himself, and the "love", "pity", and "thirst of revenge" felt for the creator who had abandoned him:
I pitied Frankenstein; my pity amounted to horror: I abhorred myself. But when I discovered that he, the author at once of my existence and of its unspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; that while he accumulated wretchedness and despair upon me, he sought his own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgence of which I was for ever barred, then impotent envy and bitter indignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. I recollected my threat, and resolved that it should be accomplished. I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadly torture; but I was the slave, not the master of an impulse, which I detested, yet could not disobey. Yet when she died!--nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast off all feeling, subdued all anguish to riot in the excess of my despair. Evil thenceforth became my good. Urged thus far, I had no choice but to adapt my nature to an element which I had willingly chosen. The completion of my demoniacal design became an insatiable passion. And now it is ended; there is my last victim! (Shelley 2005: 241)
The Monster opened his heart to Walton and declared there could never be any "sympathy", "happiness" and "affection" for him; his destiny was to suffer and die alone, not only for his unfulfilled dreams, but especially for his crimes:
I am content to suffer alone, while my sufferings shall endure: when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrence and opprobrium should load my memory. Once my fancy was soothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings, who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of bringing forth. I was nourished with high thoughts of honour and devotion. But now vice has degraded me beneath the meanest animal. No crime, no mischief, no malignity, no misery, can be found comparable to mine. When I call over the frightful catalogue of my deeds, I cannot believe that I am he whose thoughts were once filled with sublime and transcendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associates in his desolation; I am quite alone. (Shelley 2005: 242)
All human beings were to be blamed for his endless anguish, lack of friends, and criminal deeds, because human beings, in general, and Victor Frankenstein, in particular, denied his rights to happiness and mutual love:
He [Frankenstein] could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured, wasting in impotent passions. For whilst I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires. They were for ever ardent and craving; still I desired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned. Was there no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from his door with contumely? Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the saviour of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my blood boils at the recollection of this injustice. (Shelley 2005: 242-243)
The Monster tried to unburden his heart by confessing all the sins he seemed to be ashamed of:
It is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovely and the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as they slept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me or any other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the select specimen of all that is worthy of love and admiration among men, to misery; I have pursued him even to that irremediable ruin. There he lies, white and cold in death. You hate me; but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself. I look on the hands which executed the deed; I think on the heart in which the imagination of it was conceived, and long for the moment when they will meet my eyes, when it will haunt my thoughts, no more. (Shelley 2005: 243)
Considering he had done everything he should have, the Monster thought only of his death, the only "condition" to find his happiness, and the only possible "repayment" to his creator:
My work is nearly complete. Neither your's nor any man's death is needed to consummate the series of my being, and accomplish that which must be done; but it requires my own. Do not think that I shall be slow to perform this sacrifice. I shall quit your vessel on the ice-raft which brought me hither, and shall seek the most northern extremity of the globe; I shall collect my funeral pile, and consume to ashes this miserable frame, that its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch, who would create such another as I have been.2 I shall die. I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me, or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched. He is dead who called me into being; and when I shall be no more, the very remembrance of us both will speedily vanish. I shall no longer see the sun or stars, or feel the winds play on my cheeks. Light, feeling, and sense, will pass away; and in this condition must I find my happiness. Some years ago, when the images which this world affords first opened upon me, when I felt the cheering warmth of summer, and heard the rustling of the leaves and the chirping of the birds, and these were all to me, I should have wept to die; now it is my only consolation. Polluted by crimes, and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death? (Shelley 2005: 243-244)
Finally, the Monster bid farewell to his creator and emphasized that the only revenge Victor could have been satisfied with would have been the death of the "being" who had destroyed an entire harmless family:
Farewell! I leave you, and in you the last of human kind whom these eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein! If thou wert yet alive, and yet cherished a desire of revenge against me, it would be better satiated in my life than in my destruction. But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinction, that I might not cause greater wretchedness; and if yet, in some mode unknown to me, thou hast not yet ceased to think and feel, thou desirest not my life for my own misery. Blasted as thou wert, my agony was still superior to thine; for the bitter sting of remorse may not cease to rankle in my wounds until death shall close them for ever. But soon ... I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell. (Shelley 2005: 244)
Romantic and Gothic narrative as well as science fiction novel
Frankenstein is, essentially, a Romantic and Gothic horror narrative, but, at the same time, the first important modern science fiction novel because the Monster is restored to life through scientific means rather than through supernatural, magic or occult ones. Its topic is the attempt, be it successful or not, of a scientist to create artificial life, an experiment which can easily turn against its mastermind. This is a subject widely used in the literature of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, of course with the inherent changes due to the scientific and technological discoveries and developments (self-inflicted experiments, unintended disasters, epidemics got out of hand from various reasons, genetically-modified animals or plants, superhuman beings created by strictly-controled artificial insemination or by attaching state-of-the-art body devices, artificial intelligence; Robert Louis Stevenson, [The] Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1886; H. G. Wells, The Island of Doctor Moreau, 1896; H. G. Wells, The Invisible Man, 1897; Harry Adam Knight, The Fungus, 1985; Dean R. Koontz, Watchers, 1987; Robin Cook, Mutation, 1989; S. D. Perry, Caliban Cove, 1998; Mira Grant, Feed, 2010; Mira Grant, Deadline, 2011; Daniel H. Wilson, Amped, 2012; Helen Fitzgerald, The Duplicate, 2012; Megan Shepherd, The Madman's Daughter, 2013).
It should be mentioned that Mary Shelley seemed to have been fascinated by the possibility to "give" life to inanimate beings, as she wrote some more narratives on this subject, namely, Valerius; the Reanimated Roman (1819, unfinished story about the rebirth of a body without a soul, a minor variation on Frankenstein), Roger Dodsworth: The Reanimated Englishman (1826, about suspended animation, also a minor variation on Frankenstein), The Evil Eye (1829), Transformation (1830), The Mortal Immortal: A Tale (1833, a story about alchemy). (Mulvey-Roberts 1998: 213)
Victor Frankenstein can be considered a Romantic hero, as such a character "is either a solitary dreamer, or an egocentric plagued by guilt and remorse, ... a figure who has kicked the world away from beneath his feet" (Ousby 1992: 851). And Victor is so much obsessed with his "dream"--mad, but fictional, for the development of science at the beginning of the 19th century--that he does go beyond the "limits" of the powers any man / scientist can have, thus sealing his own fate.
Although there always exists the implication that the main character is Doctor Victor Frankenstein (a Promethean figure trying to bring a gleam of hope for science / mankind, considered, at the same time, "God" / creator, innocent "being", rebel, Devil-like vindictive person)--the character who gives in fact the name of this well-known myth--, much more important is the Monster, "a ubiquitous symbol of menace, ... [representing] the hubris of science, the forces of the unconscious, and the emergent industrial working class" (Magill 1983: 575). As monstrous was anything deviating from the natural order--so important in Shelley's time--, by their own nature "monsters escape classification, frustrate the possibility of linguistic precision, embody an ontological ambivalence, and make visible the process of mutation" (Jewiss 2001: 180). Though not able to exist one without the other, Victor and the Monster are opposite and irreconcilable poles which have to destroy one another; this is why they cannot finally "survive", in the same way as Elizabeth, Victor's bride, cannot. The real meaning of the novel is the Faustian dream of unlimited power--more precisely, the wish that, through the agency of modern science someone can compete with God in creating a human being. However, Shelley's scholar, former student at the Ingolstadt University, does not make a deal with the Devil, but resorts to the latest scientific discoveries of his time, giving up the "obsolete" knowledge and relying on laboratory works. The "thinking" of Agrippa or Paracelsius is replaced by modern experiments, extremely daring for the beginning of the 19th century. Life is created without divine or supernatural means, only by science. Nevertheless, readers, unlike the cinema-goers, never enter the scholar's laboratory to witness the "birth" of the Monster (a dual split of character, a perfect use of the doppelganger motif, Tudor & Tudor 2012: 67), nor are they given any "technical" details about the equipment used or the way the various "body parts" are put together and finally "animated", evidently because of Shelley's lack of knowledge on laboratory procedures. In his last conversation with Captain Walton, the Monster promises to kill himself, but, apparently, he does not do that ("He sprung from the cabin-window, as he said this, upon the ice-raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne away by the waves, and lost in darkness and distance", Shelley 2005: 244). When Joyce Carol Oates spoke about "the demon's patient, unquestioning, utterly faithful, and utterly human love for his irresponsible creator" (apud Jane Yolen, 1992), she spoke about the love of a child for his father. This "diseased creation myth, prototype of many to come ... [and the] Oedipal [struggle]" (Aldiss 1988: 43) between Victor Frankenstein and his creation / enemy, not to mention the inherent powerful mental anxieties, somehow foreshadow the motif of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Tudor & Hojbota 2013: 206-228), this time not against the background of a gloomy London, but against some beautiful wild landscapes. One can also mention references about vampirism (Polidori's early influence, although his novella The Vampyre would not be published until April, 1819), incest--in fashion during that period, for example, the affair between George Gordon Byron and Augusta, his half-sister--as Frankenstein can be both mother and father to the Monster ("I shall be with you in your wedding night"), and family tragedies (the death of Mary Shelley's second and third children).
Mary Shelley's novel is considered the archetype of the indestructible relationship between a mad scientist and his creation, substantiated by the physical pains and the mental agonies which a monster--the offspring of a scientific experiment ended in horrific and disastrous results--induces to his "creator". Although Victor, the archetype of the mad scientist, physically brings his project to the end, he does not succeed in keeping alive the absolutely necessary emotional relationship between a "father" and his "child"; moreover, by his deliberate rejection, Victor pushes his "child" to take revenge both against him and his most beloved ones, especially Elizabeth. Thus, Frankenstein becomes the "true villain", because he acts without thinking, takes risks without considering the consequences, and brings death and misfortune to the innocent people around him while not directly suffering himself. (D'Ammassa 2006: 122)
By making Victor a "villain", Shelley observed one of the canons of the Gothic novel; however, she did not forget others such as the wild, picturesque and mountainous landscapes, macabre murders, or unusual settings (Frankenstein's laboratory or De Lacey's cottage replacing the habitual ruined castles). Very important is the symbolism of both landscapes and weather to mirror "the existential and emotional circumstances of the characters, ... storms [coming] to complement feelings of wrath and terror, the sun [breaking] through during the peaceful interludes" (Magill 1983: 578); one can mention here the lightning-struck tree which gives Victor the idea how an inanimate "being" can be brought to life, the dark and dreary night when the Monster comes to life, the strong wind blowing suddenly just before Elizabeth is murdered.
As a myth, Frankenstein is essentially a narrative about "our ambivalences concerning power, gender, and technology", a story of "masculine self-birthing (parthenogenesis) ... construed to be monstruous and unnatural." In contrast, many of the films, despite their emphasis on some moral warnings against the "possible excesses of science, ambivalently glorify the power of the scientist as magician and God." (Picard 2003: 79-80)
On account of various social conceptions or opinions, critics read Mary Shelley's masterpiece differently. Some saw the novel as a protest against the class oppresions and the colonizations of new teritories which implied the existence of human and sub-human beings, others considered it a warning against the ever-increasing growth of population; some considered it an allegorical warning of the terror initiated by the French Revolution, others just a monstrosity produced by the fertile imagination of an anxious woman who had suffered terrible psychic traumas while the feminists considered it a rape of nature (Mulvey-Roberts 1998: 215; Snodgrass 2005: 128). Frankenstein might be a "meditation on human education", a "fearful reflection on the shallowness of Enlightenment idealism", an experiment in protoscience fiction" as well as an "implicit commentary on the respective importance of the sexes in the construction of a balanced character" (Hughes 2010: 145). But it was also a "Romantic rejection" of the eighteenth-century Cartesian belief in the scientist as hero, and in technology as inherently good, expressing "the fears of an entire mal-du-siecle generation caught in a sudden paradigm shift between tradition and modernity." (Evans 2009: 13)
Gothic in atmosphere, Frankenstein was a warning against "man's domination by the machines he was creating"; the evil, not inherent in the monster, was a "result of the attitude toward it" because although Mary Shelley believed in the "progress and the perfectability of man", she could not see that "the danger lay in the lack of proper feeling, a failing of charity and understanding." (Spector 1963: 10).
Considering that Arthur Koestler (1905-1984) said
The conscious or unconscious processes underlying creativity are essentially combinatorial activities--the bringing together of previously separate ideas of knowledge and experience. The scientist's purpose is to achieve synthesis; the artist aims at a juxtaposition of the familiar and the eternal (Koestler 1978: 129),
one could argue that Mary Shelley succeeded in bringing into the novel some scientific knowledge of her time, but failed in dealing with some moral and psychological "familiar" / "family" problems, especially the easiness with which people, even members of the same "family", could turn on each other when love or hatred were being involved.
The Monster may be considered a "metaphor of the violent mob loosed in times of political upheaval", representing the "radicalism too disturbing to be countenanced by the existing order and which ... highlights the monstrosity of systems of law, religion and family", as well as the "fears about the existence of both natural and artificial mechanisms that not only exceed the boundaries of a humanised world but emerge, transgressively and destructively, from uncontrollable desires and imaginings in the individual mind". (Botting 1996: 102-103). The monster is "not simply an alter ego of Frankenstein, not simply the passionate returning of the repressed energies of a deranged individual mind"; he becomes "a private and public horror" with his "autonomous existence" manifested by his "eloquence, critical intelligence" as well as the "effects" he has on others. [Botting 1996: 103-104]
The old and ever new Frankenstein
The myth of Frankenstein was the starting point of numerous literary works. Following some stage dramatizations (the best known being Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein, Richard Brinsley Peake, 1823, and Frankenstein; or, The Man and the Monster, Henry M. Milner, 1826), Michael Egremont [Michael Harrison, 1907-1991] published The Bride of Frankenstein (1936), a volume initially intended to be a novelization of the movie directed by James Whale (1889-1957) in 1936, but which finally kept only the beginning and the end, the rest being a completely original work. Brian W. Aldiss (1925-) dealt with the myth from the viewpoint of a time traveller, Joe Bodenland, set out from our times to be present at the "creation" of the Monster's bride (Frankenstein Unbound, 1973), while Theodore Roszak (1933-2011) did the same but from the viewpoint of Victor's wife, an active participant to the scientific project by some occult rituals absolutely necessary for bringing the dead to life (The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, 1995). The Monster imagined by Michael Bishop (1945-) survived till the 20th century just by continuously changing his appearance and graduating various universities (Brittle Innings, 1994).
Dean R. Koontz (1945-) and Kevin J. Anderson (1962-) bring the myth into the 21st century (Prodigal Son, 2005). Doctor Victor Frankenstein, now a merciless millionaire, lives in New Orleans as Victor Helios. His scientific "activities" are genetics and the "control" of the DNA to create human beings with two hearts and exceptional capabilities, the telepathic control of movements from amniotically-immersed brains, experiments carried out on autistic beings with a view to find out the proceedings necessary for a possible "spreading" of this pathologic condition to other people. The Monster, known as "Deucalion", subjected to some radical physical and moral changes during the two centuries spent in circus shows or long-forgotten monasteries, tries to find his "master" by using the opportunity of the New Orleans contest for the most "efficient" serial killer. Thus, on the analogy of the immortal story of the Prodigal Son, the main theme becomes the return of the Monster to his creator, the essential difference being the transformation of Dr. Helius into a real monster while the classic "monster" becomes a truly human "being".
An interesting approach is that of Jean-Claude Carriere (1931-) who, as Benoit Becker, published six novels on the Frankenstein myth (Le Tour de Frankenstein / The Tower of Frankenstein, 1957; Le Pas de Frankenstein / The Step of Frankenstein, 1957; La Nuit de Frankenstein / The Night of Frankenstein, 1957; Le Sceau de Frankenstein / The Seal of Frankenstein, 1957; Frankenstein rode / Frankenstein Prowls, 1958; La Cave de Frankenstein / The Cellar of Frankenstein, 1959). Gouroull, the yellow-eyed staring Monster, is an unscrupulous demonic and inhuman "being", a real embodiment of Evil; with razor-edged teeth ready to slit his victims throats, chalk-coloured fire-resistant skin, superhuman physical force and speed; he is an "alien" with no breathing, no blood in his veins, no normal heartbeats, and no mercy even for the people who try to help or reason with him.
The Frankenstein myth in literature, music and film
The popularity of the myth is nowadays almost exclusively due to the more than 400 movies, although the screenwriters have often made essential changes which entirely distorted, if not the action as such, surely the moral and psychological portraits of the main characters. There appear innumerable sons, daughters, brides, or spectres; Frankenstein is put face to face to monsters both from space and from the inmost depths of Hell, or is forced to confront werewolves, not to speak anything of Dracula himself. Thus, the romantic thrill vanishes completely, and only the terror and gore remain.
The novel was first brought to the screen in Frankenstein (1910), a sixteen minutes short produced by Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), starring Augustus Phillips (1874-1944) as Victor, and Charles Stanton Ogle (1865-1940) as the misshapen Monster, born--in a remarkable pre-animatronic special effects scene--from a cauldron of fiery chemicals (Jones 1994, 15, 17; Jones 1999: 146). After Life Without Soul (1915) and Il mostro di Frankenstein / The Frankenstein Monster (1920), an excellent staging (1927, with Hamilton Deane [1880-1958] as the Monster) brought the subject to the moguls of the Universal Pictures who acquired the screening copyrights.
Initially, the director was to be Robert Florey (1900-1979), but the twenty minutes screen tests of Bela Lugosi (1882-1956), Edward Van Sloan (1882-1964) and Dwight Frye (1899-1943), terribly displeased the producer Carl Laemmle Jr. (1908-1979) so that the project was entrusted to James Whale. The lead was given to Boris Karloff (1887-1969), the only actor to be considered the perfect impersonation of the Monster, with his square-shaped skull, big scar across the forehead, corpse-like pallor (due to the applied blue-green greasepaint), heavy-lidded eyes, body-attached distinctive electrodes, shortened sleeves of the old black jacket, cut almost to the elbown to suggest an immense power in the large hands, black shoe polish applied to the nails to give the impression of something dead, and shambling walk due to the 25 pounds special thickened asphalt spreader's boots (Fischer 1991: 716; Halliwell 1988: 121). The popularity of this cult-film did not consist in the frissons produced to the audience--be they visual (despite some edited cut-off scenes as too "macabre") or psychological (the idea that the Monster was given a criminal brain, this fact explaining his propensity towards rage, violence and murder [Fischer 1991: 717])--but in the gradual changing of the initial shock and terror--due mainly to the extraordinary make-up of Jack P. Pierce (1889-1968)--into a feeling of sympathy both for Frankenstein (Henry, not Victor, this time), whose dreams went awry, and for the Monster, so filled with "humanity ... despite [his] clumsiness and a temper readily provoked to violence" (Solomon 1976: 124). This sympathy was given, in Ivan Butler's opinion, by "a tragic sense of human potentiality wasted, destroyed by a lack of understanding which leads so quickly to panic and disaster" (apud Dillard 1976: 12). The movie, whose symbolism is derived not only from the narrative movements, but also from the significance of the fire (the lightning which gives him life, at the beginning; the burning fire which ends the Monster's earthly existence, at the end), moots the question of the nature of creation and its moral consequences: any human being always hopes for more, while failure, often possible, does not consist in a bold attempt, but in the incapability to cope with the "product" of his actions. And Frankenstein is incapable of accomplishing the Monster's greatest wish, namely, a flesh and blood companion with whom to live in complete "understanding". This "human" wish is emphasized in [The] Bride of Frankenstein (1936, James Whale) where the real "hero" is Doctor Septimius Pretorius (Ernest Thesiger, 1879-1961), the only one to persuade the reluctant Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive, 1900-1937) to continue his research, the doctor who will finally get hold of the "brain" of the Monster (Boris Karloff), sending him to perpetrate some horrible crimes. Towards the end of the 1930s the public already considered the Monster an indestructible being, so that Universal Pictures resumed the story in Son of Frankenstein (1939, Rowland V. Lee), starring Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Basil Rathbone (18921967), Lionel Atwill (1885-1946). While exhuming the bones of his parents, Baron Wolf von Frankenstein discovers the lethargic Monster to be given once again life by the habitual lightning; however, this time, the lightning affects him excessively, so that he threatens Wolf he will transplant the brain of the baron's eldest son into the head of a corpse; in the end, the Monster is thrown in a bottomless pit. The next movies feature the Monster as just a killer, always in search of a fresh brain. The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942, Erle C. Kenton) did not rise to expectations of the public, one reason being the fact that Lon Chaney Jr. (1906-1973) was just a dumb brutal expressionless and unsympathetic Monster with a gash for a mouth and a masklike white face (Hallliwell 1988: 156). Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943, Roy William Neil) had a misleading title because the main character was the werewolf Lawrence Talbot who had to get to Vasaria to learn the secrets of life and death from Frankenstein's notes.
The myth was taken up again in the 1960s by Terence Fisher (1904-1980) for Hammer Films. The first, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957)--starring Christopher Lee (1922-) as the Monster, Peter Cushing (1913-1994) as Victor Frankenstein, Hazel Court (1926-2008) as Elizabeth--came closer to Shelley's novel than any other film before, but left much to be desired both because of the extreme "expressionistic color" of blood, a "brilliant, vivid, rich red" which drenched the sets in a "chromatic dispersion of light and shadow" (Miller 1995: 47), and of Lee's make-up, "excessively nasty, as though he had been pickled for a year or two in formaldehyde" (Halliwell 1988: 165). However, here as well as in the other Hammer productions, Victor, and not the Monster, was the leading character, a "diabolical, amoral" and egocentric scientist who did not realize that the "murderous evil of his creation" was not an "inherent quality" in the Monster's heart but an "unwanted adjunction" caused by his rejection both by his creator and the entire society (Miller 1995: 54-55). In Frankenstein Created Woman (1966) the scientist survived to go on with his mad experiments, in Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed (1969) Victor was the real Monster, while in Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1975) the plot revolved around a 19th century Carlsbad insane asylum. In Frankenstein 1970 (1958, Howard W. Koch), Baron Victor Frankenstein (Boris Karloff), tortured and badly disfigured by the Nazis for not cooperating with them, used the members of a documentary film crew, "allowed" to enter his castle, as organ supplies in order to create a huge Monster in a nuclear-powered laboratory. Frankenstein: The True Story (1973, Jack Smight) was much closer to the script used by James Whale than to Shelley's novel, but "rearranged" the elements of the old Universal productions into a "fresh" but somehow strange pattern by introducing in the plot gypsies, a blind man, a female monster named Prima, and a blackmailing scientist as well as by emphasizing homosexual elements (Halliwell 1988: 181). Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994, Kenneth Branagh) is very close to the original novel and benefits by actors such as Kenneth Branagh (Frankenstein) and Robert De Niro, a horrible scarred Monster with an arm longer than the other, a part of his face replaced, skin of various colorations, and differently-hued eyes.
Original novel: Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus (without the name of the author on the first page), 3 vols, London, Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor & Jones, 1818; Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, 2 vols, London, G. & W. B. Whittaker, 1823; Frankenstein; Or, The Modern Prometheus, revised edition, preface by Mary Shelley, illustrations by Theodor von Holst, London, Henry Colburn & Richard Bentley Publishers, 1831.
Critical editions (selected titles): Frankenstein, M. K. Joseph, editor, 1969, reprinted 1980, revised 1998; Frankenstein, James Reiger, editor, 1974; The Annotated Frankenstein, Leonard Wolf, editor, 1975; Frankenstein, Maurice Hindle, editor, 1992, reprinted 2003, 2007; Frankenstein: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism, Johanna M. Smith, editor, 1992; The Essential Frankenstein, Leonard Wolf, editor, illustrations by Christopher Bing, 1993, revised 2004; Frankenstein, Candace Ward, editor, 1994; Frankenstein, Joyce Carol Oates, editor, illustrations by Barry Moser, 1994; Frankenstein, J. Paul Hunter, editor, 1995; Frankenstein, Philip Gooden, editor, introduction by Paddy Lyons, 1996; Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus. The 1818 Version, D. L. Macdonald, Kathleen Scherf, editors, 1999, reprinted 2005; Frankenstein, Walter James Miller, editor, 2000; Frankenstein: A Longman Cultural Edition, Susan J. Wolfson, editor, 2002, reprinted 2006; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, Harold Bloom, editor, 2006; The Original Frankenstein, Charles E. Robinson, editor, 2008; Frankenstein, Marilyn Butler, editor, 2008; Frankenstein, Karen Karbiener, editor, 2009.
Novels (sequel, adaptation, selected titles): Michael Egremont, Bride of Frankenstein, 1935; H. Hudford Janes, Revenge of Frankenstein, 1958; Benoit Becker [Jean-Claude Carriere], Le Tour de Frankenstein, 1957; Benoit Becker [Jean-Claude Carriere], Le Pas de Frankenstein, 1957; Benoit Becker [Jean-Claude Carriere], La Nuit de Frankenstein, 1957; Benoit Becker [Jean-Claude Carriere], Le Sceau de Frankenstein, 1957; Benoit Becker [Jean-Claude Carriere], Frankenstein rode, 1958; Benoit Becker [Jean-Claude Carriere], La Cave de Frankenstein, 1959; David Case, The Dead End, 1969; Hal Kantor, The Adult Version of Frankenstein, 1970; Ed Martin, Frankenstein 69, 1972; Paul W. Fairman, The Frankenstein Wheel, 1972; Brian W. Aldiss, Frankenstein Unbound, 1973; Christopher Isherwood, Frankenstein: The True Story, 1973; Edward D. Hoch, The Frankenstein Factory, 1975; Robert J. Myers, The Cross of Frankenstein, 1975; Robert J. Myers, The Slave of Frankenstein, 1976; Carl Dreadstone [Ramsey Campbell], Bride of Frankenstein, 1977; Peter Tremayne, [The] Hound of Frankenstein, 1977; Allan Rune Pettersson, Frankenstein's Aunt, 1978; Ron Goulard, Calling Dr. Patchwork, 1978; Hubert Venables, Frankenstein Diaries, 1980; Fred Saberhagen, The Frankenstein Papers, 1986; Allan Rune Pettersson, Frankenstein's Aunt Returns, 1989; Melanie Tem, Nancy Holder, Making Love, 1993; Sophie Galleymore Bird, Maneater, 1993; Michael Blumlein, X, Y, 1993; Leonore Fleischer, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, novelization, 1994; Michael Bishop, Brittle Innings, 1994; Hilary Bailey, Frankenstein's Bride, 1995; Jeremy Kay, Secret Laboratory: Journals of Dr. Victor Frankenstein, 1995; Theodore Roszak, The Memoirs of Elizabeth Frankenstein, 1995; Amarantha Knight [Nancy Kilpatrick], The Darker Passions: Frankenstein, 1995; Dean C. Andersson, I Am Frankenstein, 1996; Spike Milligan [Terence Alan Patrick Sean Milligan], Frankenstein According to Spike Milligan, 1997; Victor Kelleher, Born of the Sea: Frankenstein--The Untold Story, 2003;Joseph Covino, Jr., Frankenstein Resurrected, 2005; Dean R. Koontz, Kevin J. Anderson, Prodigal Son, 2005; Dean R. Koontz, Ed Gorman, City of Night, 2005; Kathlyn Bradshaw, The Frankenstein Murders, 2008; Dean R. Koontz, Dead and Alive, 2009; Laurie Sheck, A Monster's Notes, 2009; Peter Ackroyd, The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein, 2009; Dean R. Koontz, Lost Souls, 2010; Kenneth Oppel, This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein, 2011; James Murray, Frankenstein: The Illuminatus Complex, 2012.
Short stories (selected titles): Manly Wade Wellman, Pithecanthropus Rejectus, 1938; Robert Bloch, Mannikins of Horror, 1939; Karl Edward Wagner, Undertow, 1977; R. Chetwynd-Hayes, The Creator, 1978; Dennis Etchison, The Dead Line, 1979; Ramsey Campbell, A New Life, 1987; David J. Schow, Last Call for the Sons of Shock, 1991; Basil Copper, Better Dead, 1994; Nancy Kilpatrick, Creature Comforts, 1994; John Brunner, Tantamount to Murder, 1994; Guy N. Smith, Last Train, 1994; Graham Masterton, Mother of Invention, 1994; Adrian Cole, The Frankenstein Legacy, 1994; Kim Newman, Completist Heaven, 1994; Michael Marshall Smith, To Receive Is Better, 1994; Lisa Mortom, Poppi's Monster, 1994; Roberta Lannes, A Complete Woman, 1994.
Poetry (selected titles): Jo Fletcher, Frankenstein, 1994.
Dramatization (selected titles): Richard Brinsley Peake, Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein, 1823; Henry M. Milner, Frankenstein; or, The Demon of Switzerland, 1823; Henry M. Milner, Frankenstein; or, The Man and the Monster, 1826; Peggy Webling, Frankenstein, 1927; Victor Gialanella, Frankenstein, 1981; Nick Dear, Frankenstein, 2011.
Screenplay / Screenscript: Garrett Fort, Francis Edwards Faragoh, Frankenstein, 1931; Philip J. Riley, editor, Frankenstein (Classic Horror Films, vol. 1), 1989.
Anthologies (selected titles): Calvin Beck, editor, The Frankenstein Reader, 1962; Peter Haining, editor, The Frankenstein File, 1977; Martin H. Greenberg, Byron Preiss, editors, The Ultimate Frankenstein, 1991; Martin H. Greenberg, editor, Frankenstein: The Monster Wakes, 1993; Stephen Jones, editor, The Mammoth Book of Frankenstein, 1994; Peter Haining, editor, The Frankenstein Omnibus, 1994; Brian Willis, editor, Hideous Progeny: A Frankenstein Anthology, 1999.
Comics (selected titles) Son of Frankenstein, DC Comics, [1, April 1939; Dick Briefer, Frankenstein, Prize Comics, 1940; Dick Briefer, Frankenstein Comics, Prize Comics, [1, 1945--[17, 1949, Frankenstein Comics, [18, March 1952--[33, October-November 1954; Frankenstein, Dell Comics, [1, October 1964, [2, September 1966, [4, March 1967; Roy Thomas, X-Men, Marvel Comics, [40, 1968; Frankenstein (after Mary Shelly), Hallucinations, Aredit, [15, 1972; Hallucinations, Aredit, [16, Le Tour de Frankenstein (after Benoit Becker), 1972; Hallucinations, Aredit, [17, Le Pas de Frankenstein (after Benoit Becker), 1972; Hallucinations, Aredit, [18, La Nuit de Frankenstein (after Benoit Becker), 1972; Hallucinations, Aredit, [19, Le Sceau de Frankenstein (after Benoit Becker), 1972; Hallucinations, Aredit, [20, Frankenstein rode (after Benoit Becker) 1972; Hallucinations, Aredit, [21, La Cave de Frankenstein (after Benoit Becker), 1972; Mike Ploog, The Monster of Frankenstein, Marvel Comics, [1, January 1973--[5, September 1973; Len Wein, Spawn of Frankenstein, DC Comics, 1973; Frankenstein, Dark Horse Comics, 1991; Jack C. Harris, Bo Hampton, Batman: Castle of the Bat, DC Comics, 1995; Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, art by Anthony Williams, The Superman Monster, DC Comics, 1999; Larry Wachowski, Andy Wachowski, illust. Steve Skroce, Geof Darrow, Doc Frankenstein, Burlyman Entertainment, 2004; R. D. Hall, art by Jerry Beck, Frankenstein: Monster Mayhem, Dead Dog Comics, 2005; Todd Livingston, Robert Tinnell, art by Micah Farritor, The Living and the Dead, Speakeasy Comics, 2005; Gary Reed, art by Frazer Irving, Puffin Books, Frankenstein, 2005; Enrico Teodorani, Joe Vigil, Adult Frankenstein, Eros Comix, 2006; Super Frankenstein, Big Bang Comics, 2006; Marion Mousse, Frankenstein, Papercutz, 2009.
Comics (series, selected titles): Donald F. Glut: [1: Frankenstein Lives Again!, 1977; [2: Terror of Frankenstein, 1977; [3: Bones of Frankenstein, 1977; [4: Frankenstein Meets Dracula, 1977; [5: Frankenstein vs. the Werewolf, 2001; [6: Frankenstein in the Lost World; [7: Frankenstein in the Mummy's Tomb; [8: The Return of Frankenstein; [9: Frankenstein and the Curse of Dr. Jekyll; [10: Frankenstein and the Evil of Dracula.
Music (selected titles): Meyer Lutz, Richard Henry, Frankenstein, Or The Vampire's Victim / Frankenstein, Or The Model Man, 1887; Eric Sirota, Day of Wrath, 1990; Graham Brown, Geoff Meads, Joined at the Heart, 2007; Mel Brooks, Thomas Meehan, Young Frankenstein, 2007; Mark Baron, Jeffrey Jackson, Frankenstein--A New Musical, 2007.
Filmography (selected titles): Frankenstein, United States, 1910, director: J. Searle Dawley, writing credits: J. Searle Dawley, make-up: Charles Stanton Ogle, cast: Augustus Phillips, Charles Stanton Ogle, Mary Fuller; Life Without Soul, United States, 1915, producer: John I. Dudley, director: Joseph W. Smiley, writing credits: Jesse J. Goldburg, cast: Percy Darrell Standing, George De Carlton, Lucy Cotton, Pauline Curley, Jack Hopkins, William A. Cohill; Il mostro di Frankenstein / The Monster of Frankenstein, Italy, 1920, producer: Luciano Albertini, director: Eugenio Testa, writing credits: Giovanni Drovetti, cast: Luciano Albertini, Umberto Guarracino, Linda Albertini, Aldo Mezzanotte; Frankenstein, United States, 1931, producers: Carl Laemmle Jr., E. M. Asher, director: James Whale, writing credits: Garrett Ford, Francis Edward Faragoh, John L. Balderston, Peggy Webling, Richard Schayer, cinematography: Arthur Edeson, Paul Ivano, film editing: Clarence Kolster, special effects: John P. Fulton, Ken Strickfaden, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, Pauline Eells, art director: Charled D. Hall, music: Bernhard Kaun, cast: Colin Clive, Mae Clarke, John Boles, Boris Karloff, Edward Van Sloan, Frederick Kerr, Dwight Frye, Lionel Belmore, Marilyn Harris; [The] Bride of Frankenstein, United States, 1935, producer: Carl Laemmle Jr., director: James Whale, writing credits: William Hurlbut, John L. Balderston, Josef Berne, Lawrence G. Blochman, Robert Florey, Philip MacDonald, Tom Reed, Edmund Pearson, cinematography: John J. Mescall, film editing: Ted J. Kent, special effects: John P. Fulton, Cleo E. Baker, Jack Cosgrove, David S. Horsley, Ken Strickfaden, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, Otto Lederer, art director: Charles D. Hall, music: Franz Waxman, cast: Boris Karloff, Colin Clive, Valerie Hobson, Ernest Thesiger, Elsa Lanchester, Gavin Gordon, Douglas Walton, Una O'Connor, E. E. Clive, Dwight Frye, Reginald Barlow, Mary Gordon; Son of Frankenstein, United States, 1939, producer: Rowland V. Lee, director: Rowland V. Lee, writing credits: Willis Cooper, cinematography: George Robinson, film editing: Ted Kent, special effects: John P. Fulton, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, art directors: Jack Otterson, Russell A. Gausman, music: Frank Skinner, cast: Basil Rathbone, Boris Karloff, Bela Lugosi, Lionel Atwill, Josephine Hutchinson, Donnie Dunagan, Emma Dunn, Edgar Norton, Lawrence Grant, Lionel Belmore; The Ghost of Frankenstein, United States, 1942, producer: George Waggner, director: Erle C. Kenton, writing credits: W. Scott Darlin, story Eric Taylor, cinematography: Elwood Bredell, Milton R. Krasner, film editing: Ted J. Kent, special effects: John P. Fulton, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, Ellis Burman, art director: Jack Otterson, set decoration: Russell A. Gausman, music: Hans J. Salter, cast: Lon Chaney Jr., Cedric Hardwicke, Ralph Bellamy, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Evelyn Ankers, Janet Ann Gallow, Barton Yarborough, Doris Lloyd, Leyland Hodgson, Olaf Hytten; Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, United States, 1943, producer: George Waggner, director: Roy William Neill, writing credits: Curt Siodmak, cinematography: George Robinson, film editing: Edward Curtiss, special effects: John P. Fulton, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, art directors: John Goodman, Martin Obzina, set decoration: Russell A. Gausman, music: Hans J. Salter, cast: Ilona Massey, Patric Knowles, Lionel Atwill, Bela Lugosi, Maria Ouspenskaya, Dennis Hoey, Don Barclay, Rex Evans, Dwight Frye, Harry Stubbs, Lon Chaney Jr.; House of Frankenstein, United States, 1944, producer: Paul Malvern, director: Erle C. Kenton, writing credits: Edward T. Lowe, story Curt Siodmak, cinematography: George Robinson, film editing: Philip Cahn, special effects: John P. Fulton, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, art directors: John B. Goodman, Martin Obzina, set decoration: Russell A. Gausman, A. J. Gilmore, music: Hans J. Salter, Paul Dessau, cast: Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Anne Gwynne, Peter Coe, Lionel Atwill, George Zucco, Elena Verdugo, Sig Ruman, William Edmunds, Charles Miller, Philip Van Zandt, J. Carrol Naish; House of Dracula, United States, 1945, producers: Paul Malvern, Joe Gershenson, director: Erle C. Kenton, writing credits: Edward T. Lowe, story Dwight V. Babcok, George Bricker, cinematography: George Robinson, film editing: Russell F. Schoengarth, special effects: John P. Fulton, make-up: Jack P. Pierce, art directors: John B. Goodman, Martin Obzina, set decoration: Russell A. Gausman, Arthur D. Leddy, music: William Lava, cast: Lon Chaney Jr., John Carradine, Martha O'Driscoll, Lionel Atwill, Onslow Stevens, Jane Adams, Ludwig Stossel, Glenn Strange, Skelton Knaggs; I Was a Teenage Frankenstein, United States, 1957, producer: Herman Cohen, director: Herbert L. Strock, writing credits: Kenneth Langtry (Herman Cohen & Aben Kandel), cinematography: Lothrop B. Worth, film editing: Jerry Young, make-up: Phillip Scheer, at director: A. Leslie Thomas, set decoration: Tom Oliphant, music: Paul Dunlap, cast: Whit Bissell, Phyllis Coates, Robert Burton, Gary Conway, George Lynn, John Cliff; The Curse of Frankenstein, United Kingdom, 1957, producers: Anthony Hinds, Michael Carreras, Anthony Nelson-Keys, Max Rosenberg, director: Terence Fisher, writing credits: Jimmy Sangster, cinematography: Jack Asher, film editing: James Needs, special effects: Les Bowie, make-up: Philip Leakey, Roy Ashton, George Turner, art director: Ted Marshall, set decoration: Bernard Robinson, music: James Bernard, cast: Peter Cushing, Hazel Court, Robert Urquhart, Christopher Lee, Melvyn Hayes, Valerie Gaunt, Paul Hardtmuth, Noel Hood, Fred Johnson, Alex Gallier, Andrew Leigh; The Revenge of Frankenstein / I Frankenstein, United Kingdom, 1958, producers: Anthony Hinds, Michael Carreras, Anthony Nelson-Keys, director: Terence Fisher, writing credits: Jimmy Sangster, Hurford Janes, George Baxt, cinematography: Jack Asher, film editing: James Needs, Alfred Cox, make-up: Philip Leakey, Henry Montsash, set decoration: Bernard Robinson, music: Leonard Salzedo, cast: Peter Cushing, Francis Mathews, Eunice Gayson, Michael Gwynn, John Welsh, Lionel Jeffries, Oscar Quitak, Charles Lloyd Pack, John Stuart, Margery Cresley, Anna Walmsley, George Woodbridge; Frankenstein's Daughter, United States, 1958, producers: George Foley, Marc Frederic, director: Richard Cunha, writing credits: H. E. Barrie, cinematography: Meredith Nicholson, film editing: Everett Dodd, special effects: Ira Anderson, make-up: Paul Stanhope, Harry Thomas, art director: Don Ament, set decoration: Harry Rief, music: Nicholas Carras, cast: John Ashley, Sandra Knight, Donald Murphy, Sally Todd, Harold Lloyd Jr., Felix Locher, Wolfe Barzell, John Zaremba, Harry Wilson; Frankenstein 1970, United States, 1958, producer: Aubrey Schenck, director: Howard W. Koch, writing credits: George Worthing Yates, Richard Landau, story Charles A. Moses, story Aubrey Schenck, cinematography: Carl E. Guthrie, film editing: John A. Bushelman, special effects: Richard Owens, make-up: George Bau, art director: Jack T. Collis, set decoration: Jerry Welch, music: Paul Dunlap, cast: Boris Karloff, Tom Duggan, Jana Lund, Donald Barry, Charlotte Austin, Irwin Berke, Rudolph Anders, John Dennis, Mike Lane; The Evil of Frankenstein, United Kingdom, 1964, producer: Anthony Hinds, director: Freddie Francis, writing credist: John Elder [Anthony Hinds], cinematography: John Wilcox, film editing: James Needs, special effects: Les Bowie, make-up: Roy Ashton, Frieda Steiger, art director: Don Mingaye, music: Don Banks, cast: Peter Cushing, Peter Woodthorpe, Duncan Lamont, Sandor Eles, Katy Wild, David Hutcheson, James Maxwell, Howard Goorney, Caron Gardner, Kiwi Kingston; Frankenstein Created Woman, United Kingdom, 1967, producer: Anthony Nelson-Keys, director: Terence Fisher, writing credits: John Elder [Anthony Hinds], cinematography: Arthur Grant, film editing: James Needs, Spencer Reeve, special effects: Les Bowie, Ray Caple, Ian Scoones, make-up: George Partleton, Frieda Steiger, art director: Don Mingaye, set decoration: Bernard Robinson, music: James Bernard, cast: Peter Cushing, Susan Denberg, Thorley Walters, Robert Morris, Duncan Lamont, Peter Blythe, Barry Warren, Derek Fowlds, Alan MacNaughton, Peter Madden, Philip Ray, Ivan Beavis; Frankenstein Must Be Destroyed, United Kingdom, 1969, producer: Anthony Nelson-Keys, director: Terence Fisher, writing credits: Bert Batt, story Anthony Nelson-Keys, story Bert Batt, cinematography: Arthur Grant, film editing: Gordon Hales, make-up: Eddie Knight, Patricia McDermott, art director: Bernard Robinson, music: James Bernard, cast: Peter Cushing, Veronica Carlson, Simon Ward, Freddie Jones, Thorley Walters, Maxine Audley, George Pravda, Geoffrey Bayldon, Colette O'Neil; [The] Horror of Frankenstein, United Kingdom, 1970, producer: Jimmy Sangster, director: Jimmy Sangster, writing credits: Jimmy Sangster, Jeremy Burnham, cinematography: Moray Grant, film editing: Chris Barnes, make-up: Tom Smith, Pearl Tipaldi, art director: Scott MacGregor, music: Malcolm Williamson, cast: Ralph Bates, Veronica Carlson, Kate O'Mara, Dennis Price, Jon Finch, Bernard Archard, Graham Jones, James Hayter, Joan Rice, Stephen Turner, Dave Prowse; Dracula vs. Frankenstein / The Revenge of Dracula, United States, 1971, producers: Al Adamson, Samuel M. Sherman, Mardi Rustam, John Van Horn, director: Al Adamson, writing credits: William Pugsley, Samuel M. Sherman, cinematography: Paul Glickman, Gary Graver, film editing: Irwin Cadden, special effects: Ken Strickfaden, Bob Le Bar, make-up: Sheldon Lee, Gary Kent, Tony Tierney, George Barr, art director: Ray Markham, music: William Lava, cast: J. Carrol Naish, Lon Chaney Jr., Zandor Vorkov, Anthony Eisley, Regina Carrol, Russ Tamblyn, Jim Davis, Greydon Clark, Angelo Rossitto, Anne Morrell, John Bloom, Forrest J. Ackerman; Dracula contra Frankenstein / Dracula prisonnier de Frankenstein / Dracula prisonnier du docteur Frankenstein / Dracula, Prisoner of Frankenstein / Dracula against Frankenstein / The Screaming Dead, Spain, France, 1972, producers: Arturo Marcus, Robert de Nesle, Luis Lasala, director: Jesus Franco, writing credits: Jesus Franco, Paul d'Ales, story Jesus Franco, cinematography: Jose Climent, film editing: Maria Luisa Soriano, special effects: Manuel Baquero, make-up: Monique Adelaide, art director: Antonio de Cabo, music: Bruno Nicolai, Daniel White, cast: Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Mary Francis, Alberto Dalbes, Britt Nichols, Genevieve Deloir, Anne Libert, Fernando Bilbao; La maldicion de Frankenstein / Les experiences erotiques de Frankenstein / The Curse of Frankenstein / The [Erotic] Rites of Frankenstein, Spain, France, 1972, producer: Arturo Marcos, director: Jesus Franco, writing credits: Jesus Franco, story Jesus Franco, cinematography: Raul Artigot, film editing: Roberto Fandino, make-up: Monique Adelaide, art director: Jean d'Eaubonne, set decoration: J. de Alberto, music: Daniel White, cast: Alberto Dalbes, Dennis Price, Howard Vernon, Beatrice Savon, Anne Libert, Britt Nichols, Fernando Bilbao, Luis Barboo, Lina Romay, Jesus Franco; Frankenstein 80 / Mosaic, Italy, 1972, producer: Benedetto Graziani, director: Mario Mancini, writing credits: Ferdinando De Leone, Mario Mancini, cinematography: Emilio Varriano, film editing: Enzo Micarelli, special effects: Carlo Rambaldi, music: Daniele Patucchi, cast: John Richardson, Gordon Mitchell, Renato Romano, Xiro Papas, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Roberto Fizz, Dada Gallotti, Marisa Traversi; Frankenstein: The True Story, United Kingdom, 1973, producers: Hunt Stromberg Jr., Ian Lewis, director: Jack Smight, writing credits: Christopher Isherwood, Donald Bachardy, cinematography: Arthur Ibbetson, film editing: Richard Marden, special effects: Roy Whybrow, make-up: Roy Ashton, art director: Fred Carter, set decoration: Wilfred Shingleton, music: Gil Melle, cast: James Mason, Leonard Whiting, David McCallum, Jane Seymour, Nicola Pagett, Michael Sarrazin, Michael Wilding, Clarissa Kaye, Agnes Moorehead, Margaret Leighton, John Gielgud, Ralph Richardson; Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, United Kingdom, 1973, producer: Roy Skeggs, director: Terence Fisher, writing credits: John Elder [Anthony Hinds], cinematography: Brian Probyn, film editing: James Needs, special effects: Les Bowie, make-up: Eddie Knight, art director: Scott MacGregor, music: James Bernard, cast: Peter Cushing, Shane Briant, Madeline Smith, David Prowse, John Stratton, Michael Ward, Elsie Wagstaff, Norman Mitchell, Clifford Mollison, Patrick Troughton; Flesh for Frankenstein / Andy Warhol's Frankenstein / De la chair pour Frankenstein, United States, Italy, France, 1973, producers: Andy Warhol, Andrew Braunsberg, Carlo Ponti, Louis Peraino, Jean Yanne, director: Paul Morrissey, writing credits: Paul Morrissey, Tonino Guerra, Pat Hackett, cinematography: Luigi Kuveiller, film editing: Franca Silvi, Jed Johnson, special effects: Carlo Rambaldi, Robert V. Bernier, make-up: Mario Di Salvio, Antonio Margheriti, art director: Gianni Giovagnoni, set decoration: Enrico Job, music: Claudio Gizzi, cast: Joe Dallesandro, Monique van Vooren, Udo Kier, Arno Juerging, Dalila Di Lazzaro, Srdjan Zelenovic, Nicoletta Elmi, Marco Liofredi; Young Frankenstein, United States, 1974, producer: Michael Gruskoff, director: Mel Brooks, writing credits: Gene Wilder, Mel Brooks, story Gene Wilder, story Mel Brooks, cinematography: Gerald Hirschfeld, film editing: John C. Howard, special effects: Hal Millar, Henry Millar Jr., Matthew Yuricich, make-up: Ed Butterworth, William Tuttle, art director: Dale Hennesy, set decoration: Robert De Vestel, music: John Morris, cast: Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle, Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman, Teri Garr, Kenneth Mars, Richard Haydn, Liam Dunn, Madeline Kahn, Gene Hackman; Victor Frankenstein / Terror of Frankenstein, Sweden, Irland, 1977, producer: Calvin Floyd, director: Calvin Floyd, writing credits: Calvin Floyd, Yvonne Floyd, cinematography: Tony Forsberg, John Wilcox, film editing: Susanne Linnman, make-up: Kerstin Elg, art director: Rolf Laksson, music: Gerard Victory, cast: Leon Vitali, Per Oscarson, Nicholas Clay, Stacy Dorning, Jan Ohlsson, Olof Bergstrom, Mathias Henriksson; Doctor Franken / Dr. Franken, United States, 1980, producers: Robert Berger, Herbert Brodkin, Thomas De Wolfe, Stephen A. Rotter, directors: Marvin J. Chomsky, Jeff Lieberman, writing credits: Lee Thomas, story: Jeff Lieberman, story: Lee Thomas, cinematography: Alan Metzger, film editing: Robert M. Reitano, art director: Ed Wittstein, music: John Morris, cast: Robert Vaughn, Robert Perault, David Selby, Teri Garr, Josef Sommer, Cynthia Harris, Addison Powell, Takayo Doran; Frankenstein, United Kingdom, United States, 1984, producers: Bill Siegler, Lou Moore, Bob Rubin, director: James Ormerod, writing credits: Victor Gialanella, make-up: Jim Gillespie, music: Alan Parker, cast: Robert Powell, David Warner, Carrie Fisher, John Gielgud, Michael Cochrane, Susan Wooldridge, Terence Alexander, Graham McGrath; The Bride, United Kingdom, United States, 1985, producers: Victor Drai, Chris Kenny, Lloyd Fonvielle, Keith Addis, director: Franc Roddam, writing credits: Lloyd Fonvielle, cinematography: Stephen H. Burum, film editing: Michael Ellis, special effects: Peter Fern, Peter Hutchinson, Peter Skehan, Bob Wiesinger, make-up: Sarah Monzani, Aaron Sherman, Maralyn Sherman, art director: Bryan Graves, set decoration: Michael Seymour, Tessa Davis, music: Maurice Jarre, cast: Sting, Jennifer Beals, Anthony Higgins, Clancy Brown, David Rappaport, Geraldine Page, Alexei Sayle, Phil Daniels; Gothic, United Kingdom, 1986, producers: Penny Corke, Robert Fox, Robert Devereux, Al Clark, director: Ken Russell, writing credits: Stephen Volk, cinematography: Mike Southon, film editing: Michael Bradsell, special effects: Simon Hewitt, Graham High, Ian Morse, Jeremy Hunt, make-up: Pat Hay, Yvonne Coppard, Meinir Brock, art director: Michael Buchanan, set decoration: Christopher Hobbs, music: Thomas Dolby, cast: Gabriel Byrne, Julian Sands, Natasha Richardson, Myriam Cyr, Timothy Spall, Alec Mango, Andreas Wisniewski, Dexter Fletcher, Pascal King, Tom Hickey, Kiran Shah; Frankenstein Unbound / Roger Corman's Frankenstein Unbound, United States, 1990, producers: Roger Corman, Thom Mount, Kobi Jaeger, Laura J. Medina, Jay Cassidy, director: Roger Corman, writing credits: Roger Corman, F. X. Feeney, novel Brian Aldiss, cinematography: Armando Nannuzzi, Michael Scott, film editing: Jay Cassidy, Mary Bauer, special effects: Renato Agostini, Syd Dutton, Bruno George, David S. Williams Jr., Robert Stromberg, Bill Taylor, make-up: Giuliana DeCarli, Nick Dudman, Suzanne Reynolds, Richard Glass, Romana Piolanti, art director: Enrico Tovaglieri, set decoration: Ennio Michettoni, music: Carl Davis, cast: John Hurt, Raul Julia, Nick Brimble, Bridget Fonda, Catherine Rabett, Jason Patric, Michael Hutchence, Catherine Corman, William Geiger, Mickey Knox, Myriam Cyr, Isabella Rocchietta; Frankenstein / Frankenstein: The Real Story, United Kingdom, 1992, producer: David Wickes, director: David Wickes, writing credits: David Wickes, cinematography: Jack Conroy, film editing: John Grover, special effects: Ian Corbould, Martin Gutteridge, Graham Longhurst, Dominic Tuohy, Craig Chandler, make-up: Alan Boyle, Mark Coulier, Gary J. Tunnicliffe, Sheelagh Wells, Patricia Cameron, art director: Martin Atkinson, set decoration: William Alexander, music: John Cameron, cast: Patrick Bergin, Randy Quaid, John Mills, Lambert Wilson, Fiona Gillies, Jacinta Mulcahy, Ronald Leigh-Hunt, Timothy Stark, Vernon Dobtcheff, Michael Gothard; Mary Shelley's Frankenstein / Frankenstein, United States, 1994, producers: Francis Ford Coppola, James V. Hart, John Veitch, Kenneth Branagh, David Parfitt, David Barron, Robert De Niro, Jeff Kleeman, director: Kenneth Branagh, writing credits: Steph Lady, Frank Darabont, cinematography: Roger Pratt, film editing: Andrew Marcus, special effects: Richard Conway, Dave Eltham, Garth Inns, Marc Coulier, David White, Val Wardlaw, Chris Watts, Pauline Fowler, Peter Lange, Lulu Morgan, make-up: Christine Allsopp, Daniel Parker, Paul Engelen, Janice Barnes, Mark Coulier, David White, Linda Armstrong, art directors: Martin Childs, Desmond Crowe, John Fenner, set decoration: Tim Harvey, music: Patrick Doyle, cast: Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham-Carter, Aidan Quinn, Ian Holm, Richard Briers, John Cleese, Robert Hardy, Cherie Lunghi, Trevyn McDowell, Gerard Horan, Mark Hadfield; Frankenstein Reborn, United States, Romania, 1998, producers: Kirk Edward Hansen, Vlad Paunescu, Michael Catalano, Charles Band, director: David DeCoteau, writing credits: Benjamin Carr, cinematography: Viorel Sergovici, film editing: Don Adams, J. R. Bookwalter, Harry James Picardi, special effects: David A. Wagner, Lucian Iordache, make-up: Mark Williams, Daniela Busoiu, art directors: Viorel Ghenea, aerban Porupco, set decoration: Christian Niculescu, music: Carl Dante, cast: Jason Simmons, Ben Gould, Haven Burton, Ethan Wilde, George Calin, Oana atefanescu; Frankenstein, United States, 2004, producers: Marcus Nispel, John J. Anderson, Martin Scorsese, Jacky Lee Morgan, Dean R. Koontz, Tony Krantz, director: Marcus Nispel, writing credits: John Shiban, novel Dean R. Koontz, cinematography: Daniel Pearl, film editing: Jay Friedkin, make-up: Leo Carey Castellano, Robin Mathews, Glenn Mosley, art director: Leslie Keel, set decoration: Gregory Blair, music: Normand Corbeil, cast: Parker Posey, Vincent Perez, Thomas Kretschmann, Adam Goldberg, Ivana Milicevic, Michael Madsen, Deborah Duke, Ann Mahoney, Deneen Tyler; Frankenstein Reborn, United States, 2005, producers: David Michael Latt, David Rimawi, Sherri Strain, Rick Walker, director: Leigh Scott, writing credits: Leigh Scott, cinematography: Steven Parker, film editing: Leigh Scott, special effects: Thomas Downey, Dan Kaplan, Leigh Scott, make-up: Missy Lisenby, Eva Lohse, art directors: Steve Fish, Silja Stefansson, set decoration: Kurt Altschwager, Nancy Piraquive, music: Regan, cast: Rhett Giles, Thomas Downey, Joel Hebner, Eliza Swenson, Jeff Denton, Dan Tana, Christina Rosenberg, Sarah Lieving, Amanda Barton, Tim Travers, Alison Johnston.
Critical studies (selected titles): Calvin Beck, editor, The Frankenstein Reader, 1962; Arthur Koestler, The Ghost in the Machine, 1967; Forrest J. Ackerman, The Frankenscience Monster, 1969; William Walling, Mary Shelley, 1972; Christopher Small, Ariel Like a Harpy: Shelley, Mary and Frankenstein, 1972; Donald F. Glut, The Frankenstein Legend: A Tribute to Mary Shelley and Boris Karloff, 1973; Richard J. Anobile, editor, Frankenstein, 1974; Richard Holmes, Shelley: The Pursuit, 1974; Radu Florescu, In Search of Frankenstein, 1975; Martin Tropp, Mary Shelley's Monster: The Story of Frankenstein, 1976; Peter Haining, editor, The Frankenstein File, 1977; Donald F. Glut, Classic Movie Monsters, 1978; Sandra Gilbert, Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination, 1979; U. C. Knoepflmacher, George Levine, editors, The Endurance of "Frankenstein": Essays on Mary Shelley's Novel, 1979; John Stoker, The Illustrated Frankenstein, 1980; Gregory William Mank, It's Alive! The Classic Cinema Saga of Frankenstein, 1981; Donald F. Glut, The Frankenstein Catalog, 1984; Samuel Holmes Vasbinder, Scientific Attitudes in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, 1984; Harold Bloom, editor, Modern Critical Views: Mary Shelley, 1985; Rebecca Bell-Metereau, Hollywood Androgyny, 1985; William Veeder, Mary Shelley and Frankenstein: The Fate of Androgyny, 1986; Chris Baldick, In Frankenstein's Shadow: Myth, Monstrosity, and Nineteenth-Century Writing, 1987; Harold Bloom, editor, Modern Critical Interpretations: Mary Shelley Frankenstein, 1987; Leslie Halliwell, The Dead That Walk, 1988; Muriel Spark, Mary Shelley, 1988; Anne K. Mellor, Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters, 1989; Brian W. Aldiss, Trillion Year Spree, 1988; Kate Ferguson Ellis, The Contested Castle: Gothic Novels and the Subversion of Domestic Ideology, 1989; Emily W. Sunstein, Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality, 1989; Betty T. Bennett, Charles E. Robinson, editors, The Mary Shelley Reader, 1990; Steven Earl Forry, Hideous Progenies: Dramatizations of "Frankenstein" from Mary Shelley to the Present, 1990; Stephen C. Behrendt, editor, Approaches to Teaching Shelley's "Frankenstein", 1990; Noel Carroll, The Philosophy of Horror or Paradoxes of the Heart, 1990; Fred Botting, Making Monstrous: "Frankenstein". Criticism, Theory, 1991; Emily M. Sunstein, Mary Shelley: Romance and Reality, 1991; Johanna M. Smith, editor, Frankenstein: Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism, 1992; Leonard Wolf, editor, The Essential Frankenstein, 1993, revised 2004; Mary Lowe-Evans, Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Wedding Guest, 1993; Mary Lowe-Evans, The Marriage Conundrum: A Biographical-Historicist-Feminist Approach to "Frankenstein", 1993; Stephen Jones, The Illustrated Frankenstein Movie Guide, 1994; Stephen Bann, editor, "Frankenstein": Creation and Monstrosity, 1994; Anne Williams, The Art of Darkness: A Poetics of Gothic, 1995; Tim Marshall, Murdering to Dissect: Grave-Robbing, Frankenstein and the Anatomy Literature, 1995; Judith Halberstam, Skin Shows: Gothic Horror and the Technology of Monsters, 1995; David Seed, editor, Anticipations. Essays on Early Science Fiction and Its Precursors, 1995; Mary Russo, The Female Grotesque, 1995; Jeffrey Jerome Cohen, editor, Monster Theory, 1996; Christopher Frayling, Nightmare: The Birth of Horror, 1996; Syndy M. Conger, Frederick S. Frank, Gregory O'Dea, editors, Iconoclastic Departures: Mary Shelley after "Frankenstein". Essays in Honor of the Bicentenary of Mary Shelley's Birth, 1997; Deborah Wilson, Christine Moneera Laennec, editors, Bodily Discursions: Genders, Representations, Technologies, 1997; Jane Donawerth, Frankenstein's Daughters: Women Writing Science Fiction, 1997; Diane Long Hoeveler, Gothic Feminism: The Professionalization of Gender from Charlotte Smith to the Brontes, 1998; Betty T. Bennett, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction, 1998; Stephen Jones, The Essential Monster Movie Guide, 1999; Arthur Belefant, Frankenstein, the Man and the Monster, 1999; E. J. Clery, Women's Gothic: From Clara Reeve to Mary Shelley, 2000; Michael Eberle-Sinatra, editor, Mary Shelley's Fiction: From "Frankenstein" to "Falkner", 2000; Miranda Seymour, Mary Shelley, 2000; Berthold Schoene-Harwood, Mary Shelley: Frankenstein--A Reader's Guide to Essential Criticism, 2000; Betty T. Bennett, Stuart Curran, editors, Mary Shelley in Her Times, 2000; Zakiya Hanafi, The Monster in the Machine: Magic, Medicine and the Marvelous in the Time of the Scientific Revolution, 2000; Caroline Joan S. Picart, The Cinematic Rebirths of Frankenstein: Universal, Hammer and Beyond, 2001; Donald F. Glut, The Frankenstein Archive: Essays on the Monster, the Myth, the Movies, and More, 2002; Timothy Morton, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: A Sourcebook, 2002; Caroline Joan S. Picart, Remaking the Frankenstein Myth on Film: Between Laughter and Horror, 2003; Esther Schor, editor, The Cambridge Companion to Mary Shelley, 2003; Lucy Morrison, Staci L. Stone, The Mary Shelley Encyclopedia, 2003; Dorothy Hoobler, Thomas Hoobler, The Monsters: Mary Shelley and the Curse of Frankenstein, 2006; John Lauritsen, The Man Who Wrote Frankenstein, 2007; Susan Tyler Hitchcock, Frankenstein: A Cultural History, 2007; Melissa Bloom Bissonette, Teaching the Monster: Frankenstein and Critical Thinking, 2010; D. Chapman, That Not Impossible She: A Study of Gender Construction and Individualism in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein", 2011.
Documentary film (selected titles): The True Story of Frankenstein, United Kingdom, 1986, producer: Daniel Wolf, director: Alan Lewens, film editing: David Good; Frankenstein: A Cinematic Scrapbook, United States, 1991, director: Ted Newsom, writing credits: Ted Newsom; Frankenstein: The Making of a Monster, United Kingdom, 1993, producers: Eugene Viknl, Tom Cowling, Jonathan Ward, writing credits: Eugene Vink, film editing: Barbara Burst, Ralph E. Quattrucci, narrator: Donald Sutherland; Nightmare: The Birth of Horror: Frankenstein, United Kingdom, 1996, producer: Letitia Knight, director: Derek Towers, cinematography: David South, narrator: Christopher Fraying; 100 Years of Horror: The Frankenstein Family, United States, 1996, producers: Ted Newsom, Dante J. Pugliese, director: Ted Newsom, film editing: Trudi Jo Marie Keck, narrator: Christopher Lee; 100 Years of Horror: Boris Karloff, United States, 1996, producers: Ted Newsom, Dante J. Pugliese, director: Ted Newsom, film editing: Trudi Jo Marie Keck, narrator: Christopher Lee; 100 Years of Horror: Baron Frankenstein, United States, 1996, director: Tom Forrester, film editing: John D. Johnson, Brian Q. Kelley, narrator: Christopher Lee; 100 Years of Horror: Frankenstein's Friends, United States, 1996, director: Tom Forrester, narrator: Christopher Lee; Children of Frankenstein, United States, United Kingdom, 1999, producer: Peter Swain, directors: Peter Swain, Chris Lethbridge, narrator: Mark Hamill; The Frankenstein Files: How Hollywood Made a Monster, United States, 1999, producer: David J. Skal; director: David J. Skal, writing credits: David J. Skal, film editing: Keith Clark, narrator: David J. Skal; She's Alive: Creating the Bride of Frankenstein, United States, 1999, producer: David J. Skal; director: David J. Skal, writing credits: David J. Skal, film editing: Keith Clark, narrator: Joe Dante.
Acknowledgments Parts of this paper has been financially supported within the project entitled Doctorate: an Attractive Research Career, contract number POSDRU/107/1.5/S/77946, co-financed by European Social Fund through Sectoral Operational Programme for Human Resources Development 2007-2013. Investing in people!
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|Title Annotation:||The creative process|
|Publication:||Romanian Journal of Artistic Creativity|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2013|
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