I am pleased with my change from “Les Miserables” to Mary Shelley’s“Frankenstein” for the National Novel Reading Month. I have granted myself with exquisite language, with beautifully written melancholy, and complex characters that are driven either by madness or loneliness.
Though I am ahead in the book this update centers on some aspects from the first ten chapters as they tell the story of Victor Frankenstein and how he came to be a wretched man, haunted by shadows and confessing his crimes only to the mighty pinnacles of Mont Blanc.
I find it a bit difficult to “feel” for the other characters even though they play important parts in Frankenstein’s life. All of them experience a great level of horror, but in my eyes they are merely martyrs, figures to serve as catalysts for certain situations. I might be wrong here as I try to predict even further into the book. My sole attention is towards Victor Frankenstein. His tale is consuming and poised with anguish, yet an episode of hatred towards him appears and the reader dwells between the wanting to slap him across the face or take pity on him.
What I really like about his character is that he portrays an epic downfall both mentally and physically: from the first steps of curiosity, towards the pedestal of brilliance, to the hours turning into a madman driven by a force to achieve the impossible, all the way down to a very troubled, weak and cursed human being who cannot share his daemons with anyone but himself. I seem to have a soft spot for such characters. But even as he refuses on several occasions to confront his creation, I as a reader don’t doubt his good intentions, or his remorse. Victor Frankenstein is by no means a bad man. The highlight here falls on man, and somehow I feel his idea to give life to this creature and then run away from it is explained by the weakness of man and the latter punishment for his earthly mistakes. It’s a common thing! Sort of…
And then there’s the fun game which Shelley’s characters, led by her play: this captain writes in his journal (plus letters to a third person) the story of a man who boards his ship, who later on tells the story of the “thing” he created the way he heard it from his monster… Blame it on the next guy! But it’s an interesting approach to tell this bizarre story and I enjoy it.
Thus far “Frankenstein” has proven to be a novel of mysteries, horrid actions, surprising and terrible counteractions and painful remorse begged to be forgiven in death. It is as I said beautifully written, and the vivid visuals of the Alps and Geneva emphasize on the feelings the narrator carries and on his melancholic walks in self questioning.
I leave you with one quote from Samuel Coleridge’s poem “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” which haunted my mind for quite a while after I read it in the novel and will surely stick long after I’ve finished reading.
Like one who, on a lonely road,
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And, having once turned round, walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.