Archive Nostalgia: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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Yesterday marked the birthday of Mary Shelley and the perfect time to bring her classic gothic tale, Frankenstein, back into the light…

Rating: 4 stars

Category: Gothic

Synopsis: Victor Frankenstein is a scientist obsessed with the miracle of life. In an intricate but ghastly experiment, he endeavours to discover the nature of life itself by resurrecting a cobbled human corpse.

The resulting creation haunts him from the secluded Scottish coastline to the breath-taking lakes of Switzerland, causing us to question the very nature of humanity…

Review:

First Impressions

The famous anecdote surrounding the origin of Frankenstein is that Mary Shelley was on holiday with friends, who challenged each other to write the most terrifying ghost story they could.

However, Frankenstein is so much more than this. In fact, the novel has deep philosophical undertones, asking some highly thought-provoking and contentious questions.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Book Review Pinterest Graphic

Settings

One of the most strikingly memorable aspects of Frankenstein is the settings; beautifully depicted mountains, lakes, wildernesses and icy wastelands paint a rich picture in the imagination. A stark contrast is drawn between the flaws of humanity and the awe-inspiring natural world.

Structure

The unusual structure of the novel took me a while to get used to, with its stories within stories within stories. At first, I felt limited by the narrow perspectives this gives. However, as I progressed the structure added an element of intrigue as I wondered how the different stories all fit together.

Shelley also uses a great deal of foreshadowing, but rather than destroying the suspense I felt that she instead creates a different kind of suspense. Although I knew what was going to happen, my pulse still beat faster – I felt I had no choice but to cling on, hurtling towards the next inevitable disaster.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Quote


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Characters

The main character, Victor Frankenstein, is fundamentally pathetic. I found that his self-centred ‘woe is me’ attitude became frustrating. This is particularly the case as he takes very little positive action in the story; any form of ‘resolution’ is only ever a fickle change of attitude or partial reconciliation with his own guilt.

However, my disdain for the main character did not undermine the value of the story. In fact, Shelley’s portrayal of him demonstrates a sharp understanding of human nature, making her bleak interpretation even more disturbing.

Wider Issues

Victor Frankenstein’s obsession with the secret of creation causes us to wonder how far we should push human progress. The treatment of the ‘creature’ that is the abhorred result of his experiments makes for a jarring exploration of the extent of human cruelty.

Meanwhile, its longing for affection and development from a state of childlike wonder to vengeful range demands consideration of what exactly makes us humanFrankenstein remains a relentlessly dark, terrifying portrayal of the fine line between human and monster.

Favourite quote:

“The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own.”

Read if: you are intrigued by the idea of a classic gothic horror story with a thought-provoking twist.

Buy Now on Better World Books:

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Fan of the gothic? Why not try Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier?


If you want to share your opinion on Frankenstein, please feel free to comment below – I would love to hear from you!


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5 thoughts on “Archive Nostalgia: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, I really appreciate it! ❤️ Yes, it’s so deliciously dark and gothic – the perfect atmospheric autumn/ winter read. I hope you enjoy it just as much this time around! X x x
      P.s. I think it’s amazing that you can read in two different languages!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Great review! I especially like your points about creating a different kind of suspense. I think it’s hard to do correctly, because there are times when I read foreshadowing and think, great, now I know how it ends/whodunnit Whatever, but I have seen author’s use it to their advantage too. I read Frankenstein earlier this year and really enjoyed it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the kind comment, I really appreciate it! ❤️ I completely agree – I can find foreshadowing frustrating too, but Shelley does it in a way that adds a lot to the creepy atmosphere. I’m really glad you enjoyed Frankenstein, I did as well, even though I couldn’t stand the character of Victor Frankenstein. He’s so ‘woe is me!’ 🙄 X

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve always wanted to read this classic, but your review has definitely increased my appetite! Wonderful review! I couldn’t help thinking that in these days where AI is progressing quickly, and we are facing a time where the lines between man and machine are becoming more blurred, the themes about what makes us human and how far we should push progress are very apt!

    Like

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