Read of the Week: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Celebrating its 200th year since publication, our Read of the Week is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and comes recommended by Patrick, a student who joined us for a week of work experience over the summer.
Frankenstein was written in the 19th century by Mary Shelley. The novel takes place in many places across Europe including Switzerland, Germany, Scotland, Ireland and even the Arctic. Victor Frankenstein- the protagonist of the novel is a self-obsessed character who is motivated by the pursuit of knowledge, this leads him to create life through the scientific process of galvanism (were electrical currents are sent to the muscles which result in them moving). The result of the experiment is one of the most famous characters in the gothic/horror genre- Frankenstein’s monster. Victor’s rejects the monster and then the monster (feeling betrayed by Victor) starts a murderous rampage that results in many deaths but it also mentally torments Victor who thinks he isn’t at fault for the murders, even though he is the only character who knows about the monster.
The character of Victor Frankenstein is strange as Shelley portrays him (and the monster) in an unusual way. On the surface Victor seems to be the victim of the novel, he is traumatized by the deaths of his friends and family members and lacks the heroic actions or intentions which a protagonist typically displays.
Similarly The Monster is often seen as the antagonist in the novel, he murders innocent people to get back at his creator but frequently throughout the novel Shelley flips the roles of the two characters (Victor as the villain and The Monster as the victim). Victor's selfishness doesn't make him a likeable protagonist as he fails to take responsibility for his actions, and as an extension of himself, the monster's actions, even going so far as to allow someone else to be punished for them.
While Victor might consider himself a victim, the monster elicits more of our sympathy - he faces constant rejection purely because of his appearance. Victor promises the monster a companion, a female monster, but he goes back on his word. Readers can understand the monster's retaliation in a way that Victor cannot.
I chose this book for my recommended read because it is written amazingly and every character is thoroughly developed even some of the minor characters such as Justine and Safie who only appear for a few pages in an already fairly short novel. Furthermore the novel makes you think of things like responsibility, mortality and relationships whilst is also explores a constant theme of feminism throughout the characters of Elizabeth, Justine and Caroline. Likewise, it is an enjoyable novel as the story is as complex as it is simple but it grips the reader from the start and it slowly reveals the darkness and trauma caused by an individual’s actions.
Overall, Frankenstein is an interesting novel it shows how people can be motivated by an extreme idea so much that they are willing to face the consequences which have drastic effects on their lives. It also shows how easily humans are motivated by greed, fear and hatred towards a person. The novel is easily a favourite of mine and it is a superb work by one of the most famous 19th century authors
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