Friday, October 29, 2010
31 Monsters of October, Day 29: Frankenstein's Monster
Real World Origin:
Literature, Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley
In Shelley's famous novel, young Victor Frankenstein is a promising chemistry and science student with an unhealthy interest in the reanimation of dead tissue. Collecting bones and other material from charnel houses, dissecting-rooms, and slaughter-houses he pieces together a creature resembling a man but much bigger (about 8 feet tall). Through a vaguely-described technique involving electricity, Frankenstein brings his creation to life. It is only upon giving the Creature life that he becomes horrified by what he's done. He abandons the monster and leaves the university for home.
While Frankenstein attempts to live a normal life, the Creature wanders the countryside, lonely, angry, and afraid. Eventually the Creature hides near a family's cottage and begins to observe them. During this time it learns to speak and comes to care for the family. However, when it tries to befriend them, they react with fear and violence given the size and hideousness of the monster. At this point, Frankenstein's Creature decides to seek vengeance against its creator; after all, others may reject the monster for its ugliness, but its own creator shouldn't have.
Thus the monster begins to kill those closest to Victor Frankenstein, starting with Victor's younger brother. The Creature offers to stop if Frankenstein will construct a companion for it; an offer which Victor initially accepts. This truce ends when Frankenstein destroys the half-finished second creation, afraid that he would end up making another murderous monster. This is the final straw for the monster, who becomes determined to complete its vengeance.
The monster has appeared in a number of films that were not based on Shelley's novel. Some of these have included other famous monsters such as Dracula or the Wolfman. In 1994 the film Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was released, starring Kenneth Branagh as Victor Frankenstein and Robert De Niro as the Creature. This film more closely follows Shelley's novel than most adaptations, although a significant plot thread involving the fate of Frankenstein's wife was added for the movie.