Frankenstein Is A Household Name

Everyone’s heard of Frankenstein, but have you ever read the book?

My daughter is reading Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley for her high school class “Monsters in British Literature.” I decided to read it, too. I was blown away!

For those who are only familiar with Victor Frankenstein’s creation through his many media incarnations, the original novel comes as something of a shock. Far from being the mute beast that many actors portrayed, Shelley’s creature is an intelligent, sensitive soul who wants nothing more than acceptance into society, fellowship, and friendship. Because everyone with whom he comes into contact rejects him, beginning with his “father” at the very moment of his “birth,” he initiates a campaign of violence and destruction that climaxes at the top of the world with Victor Frankenstein’s death aboard an ice-bound ship and the Creature’s disappearance into the icy wastes.

The book was originally published in 1818 and published anonymously “as it was felt that such a book written by a woman would not be favorably received. As it contained a preface written by Percy Bysshe Shelley (Mary’s husband), many at first assumed that he had written the book.” When a second edition was issued in 1823, Mary Shelley was credited as the author. Her 1831 revision is the story familiar to modern readers.

Did you know Frankenstein is considered one of the first works of Science Fiction?

The whole novel moves around the invention of a scientist and the result of it. Dangerous aspect of experience in the scientific field is the subject matter of the novel.

Frankenstein a classic. One of the main themes: What makes a monster?

The monster is only the most literal of a number of monstrous entities in the novel, including the knowledge that Victor used to create the monster. One can argue that Victor himself is a kind of monster, as his ambition, secrecy, and selfishness alienate him from human society. Ordinary on the outside, he may be the true “monster” inside, as he is eventually consumed by an obsessive hatred of his creation. Finally, many critics have described the novel itself as monstrous, a stitched-together combination of different voices, texts, and tenses.

I’m sure whole term papers have been written about the themes, symbols, and layers in Frankenstein. I asked if I could join my daughter’s class in discussing the novel. She said no.

Hon, have you read Frankenstein? What did you think?

Sources: Goodreads, Heritage Auctions,, Spark Notes

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