Frankenstein is not weird

Although I have never seen any of the many film adaptations of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, I have already read the novel once before in its entirety. Usually, rereading a book is a rewarding experience for me, but in this particular instance, my second reading of Frankenstein merely served to make me realize that I have never really found the tale of this novel to be particularly strange. However, looking at the novel through the lens of our discussion of Suvin’s definition of science fiction focused my attention on the aspects of the novel I had overlooked in my first reading.

During my first reading of Frankenstein, I valued the novel for its character development and psychological inquiries. I dwelled on the moral enigma that is Dr. Frankenstein, thinking most often about how I could simultaneously become emotionally invested in his personal life while hating him for making a hasty rejection of his own creation. What I did not dwell on was the fact that the main character creates a living creature by putting together the organs, muscles, and skin of various dead people. Only when I began to think about how Frankenstein as a science fiction novel did I recognize the monster to be out of the ordinary and unfamiliar to my own reality. Interestingly enough, I would have probably listed both Dr. Frankenstein and the monster’s personal struggles as something that is cognitive, ignoring the estrangement aspects of these elements completely. By beginning a second reading, I realize now that many aspects of this novel are in fact under the estrangement category, but more significantly, I recognize that this is because of the purpose I had in reading the novel in the first place. Before, I had read with the intention of discovering characters’ motives and personal development, virtually ignoring anything else. The thought that the reader’s purpose dictates a novel’s genre is an interesting one which may or may not hold for other novels and different situations, but it is one that I found applied to me in this instance, forcing me to admire Shelley’s novel for its complexity.

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One Response to Frankenstein is not weird

  1. Josh Ambrose says:

    So I have to ask–did the idea of him “creat(ing) a living creature by putting together the organs, muscles, and skin of various dead people” weird you out at all? I was struck when we watched the film clip in class today just how forbidden grave robbing, or even touching a corpse was throughout much of history.

    As we continue to read, I’m really curious what else you (and everyone else) find falls into the “estrangement” category…and what we think a contemporary of Shelley’s might have placed into that same category that we don’t.

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