Early into Frankenstein, I might have given it 3 stars because of its old-fashioned language and letter-writing format. I was not interested in Walton’s whining to his sister Margaret about loneliness and friendship. And I found this part of Shelley’s writing stiff and uninteresting.
That all changed once Walton rescued Victor Frankenstein from the icy sea near the North Pole. Frankenstein’s story is great on a couple levels. First, the thriller element still has its appeal. You are fascinated that Victor has created life and you wonder at the consequences. You are sympathetic to the monster’s plight, being alone in the world, considered grotesque by all those who see him. You want Felix, Agatha and their father to accept him. You want him to have a companion. And you are shocked at his murderous way of dealing with his loneliness.
The overlying themes of love, friendship, loneliness and loss enrich this story and the question of whether Frankenstein has the right to create life makes you think about the larger responsibilities of man to his fellow man. Frankenstein pays dearly when he destroys the monster’s female counterpart. The monster’s shocking reaction and Frankenstein’s horror, his mental collapses and the race against time make this story a true thriller.
The story within a story within a story, etc. is an interesting structure, and not too hard to follow. This style and the letter-writing format are the only things that make Frankenstein seem less modern, but they are minor points.
Note: I read the free Kindle version and I have seen a lot of debate over which version is the one to read. Shelley published then later edited and republished a second version. I believe the free one is the first edition. No complaints or criticisms. It was free and I enjoyed it!
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