Il Frankenstein di Mary Shelley



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Kind of narrative structure (Gothic novel, Epistolary novel, Science fiction);
Chinese box.
Why is “Frankenstein” considered an Epistolary novel?
Why is “Frankenstein” considered a Gothic and a
Science fiction novel?
Chinese box, narrative structure.

Letters Walton Margareth Saville
Monster’s written report
EPISTOLARY NOVEL Letters Walton M. Saville
Present narration
Characters = narrators
Description of the ugliness of the
Monster and reactions of his creator
GOTHIC NOVEL Dreadful setting
Use of highly emotional language
SCIENCE FICTION Bring back to life.
Chinese box
Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein in 1816 in Geneva. The novel starts as an Epistolary novel in which an English explorer, Walton, describes his experiences in the Arctic to his sister. He tells her about his meeting with the scientist Frankenstein in his pursuit of the monster he has himself created. In fact the monster murdered Victor’s brother, wife and friend. In the heart of the creature there was goodness and kindness, but humans had persecuted and rejected him, so he promised revenge to his creator. Frankenstein dies in the Arctic and the monster is so disgusted by his deeds of revenge that there is now only one course of action: he must kill himself.
The narrative comes back full circle as Robert Walton provides us with the final and unexpected climax to the novel.
We can distinguish three kinds of narrative structure: Epistolary novel, Gothic novel and Science fiction.
The “Chinese box” narration is very important in Frankenstein.
I. Epistolary novel
Popular in the sixteenth century the Epistolary novel is a collection of letters written by one and addressed to one or more people. An “Epistolary novel” is a group of letters collected and published as bibliographical or historical sources.
There are two kinds of Epistolary novel:
1) the narration is made of letters of more characters;
2) the narration is made of letters written only by the main character.
In the first type there are a lot of point of views, in the second type the letters are a type of personal diary.
The common characteristics of an Epistolary novel are:
1) the narrators are the characters;
2) the narration is at present.
We can consider Frankenstein an Epistolary novel because through some letters captain Walton tells the whole story of Victor Frankenstein and his monster.
a) The first part is in the Epistolary form, in fact Walton tells his sister about his first meeting with Frankenstein;
b) Frankenstein’s own story follows, an autobiographical account of his dreadful experiences;
c) Within Frankenstein’s narration is inserted a written report by the monster himself, in which he explains the reasons for his “monstrous” behaviour;
d) Finally, in the last pages the narration is resumed and concluded by Walton again, always in the Epistolary form.
This novel may be said to belong to the Gothic tradition of fiction, even if it differs from it in some important respects. Frankenstein is not set in a Gotic castle and it does not deal with supernatural events. It deals with a scientific experiment and the horror derived from the unexpected outcome: The Gothic element is to be found in the description of the monster's ugliness and in the reactions of his creator, in the dreadful setting and use of hightly emotional language.The theme of scientific research is connected to the development of science in the period and the desire the Romantics had to penetrate the secrets of life.
The tragic outcome of Frankenstein may be read as an implicit criticism of Romantic tendencies to rival God. At the same time it is a warning against the danger implicit in breaking natural laws. It also includes social themes, such as social injustice, as exemplified in the cruel treatment of the monster, and scientific themes, such as the possibilities and limits of scientific research, and the danger implicit in any attempt to overcome those limits. Because of the presence of these elements Frankestein is also considered the first work of science fiction.
The close relationship between feelings and setting and the emotional language are used here to create a positive atmosphere.The setting is a pleasant spring landscape.
It reinforces positive feelings and suggests a harmonious relationship between man and nature.
Frankenstein belongs in part to the Gothic tradition, so popular at the time , and partly to the eighteen-century philosophical tradition-going back to Rousseau-that made of themes such as isolation and social injustice fictional subjects. It can thus be defined as both a philosopical romance and a Gothic tale.
Of The tale of terror Shelly's novel possesses the highly charged emotional language and a prevailing atmosphere of suspense and danger. On the other hand, it differs from many tales of terror for ignoring certain features-castle and medieval or exotic trappings- and for substituting the supernatural with science. For treating the theme of scientific research and its ethical implications, Frankenstein has also been considered by some as the forerunner of science fiction.
IV. The Gothic novel is a literary genre that contains supernatural, unexplained and weird events in order to provoke either terror or horror in the reader. Its imagery is usually inspired by dreams and nightmares. It flourished 1765-1900, and, at the time was far more popular than realism.
Gothic novels are usually set against a background of wild and sinister landscapes, of inaccessible places and desert moors, of ancient castles full of secret passages and dungeons. And their main characters are generally men with an obscure past in the throes (in preda) of delirious passions, noble rescuers or wicked persecutors of beautiful, innocent and melancholy maidens.
VI. Narrative structure
Mary Shelley does not choose to tell her story chronologically. Instead, she takes us to a point towards the end of Frankenstein's story and introduces us to him by means or letters that a certain Robert Walton is writing to his sister. During the letters that precede Frankenstein's story, a connection is established between Walton and Frankenstein in that Walton is now fired by the sort or mad ambition that had once fired Frankenstein, and the latter decides to tell his story as a cautionary tale to Walton. At this point Frankenstein is not named and is called the traveller or the I stranger, so, at a first reading, we can only guess that this "I " is the man who has given his name to the book. Mary Shelley uses a number of characters who are reflectors of each other. In the opening of the book, Walton is a reflector of Frankenstein, manifesting the same ambition. During the book, we are introduced to other characters who reflect each other. All the women, for example, except Safie, are confined to the passive feminine sphere and have other resemblances. Clerval is a reflector of Frankenstein in that he represents those sides of himself that Frankenstein has suppressed: his aesthetic and moral sides. In the opening letters we are also made aware of Walton's sister, whose initials are the same as those or Mary Shelley, MWS: Margaret Walton Saville, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. lt has been argued that Walton's sister gives us a clue as to how we should read the text, that is, with a combination of sympathy and critical discrimination. This may be one reason why Mary Shelley chose the epistolary form. Another reason may be that she wanted to disguise her own voice as a woman by hiding behind not just one but two male narrators. We have to remember as we read that everything is being narrated to his sister by Walton, though he says later that Frankenstein has corrected his manuscript, particularly in the dialogues with the monster. We have a narrative, then, which has been described as forming three concentric circles with the monster's narrative at the heart of the book. The only thing wrong with the concentric circles idea is that it represents temporal relations spatially. For example, part or the monster's narrative overlaps in time with that of Frankenstein. Nevertheless, undoubtedly the monster's narrative is at the emotional centre or Frankenstein, just as in the original 1818 three volume edition it occupied all but thirty pages of the second volume. If the novel is about abandonment, as a number of modern, particularly feminist, critics have suggested, then the story of the abandoned creature occupies the centre of the novel. If the novel is about the threat to capitalism of the rising industrial working class, as Marxists suggest, then it is again appropriate that the story of the monster, who represents that class, should be at the centre of the novel. If we wish to look at the novel psychoanalytically, taking the monster as the symbolic representation of Mary Shelley's greatest anxieties as mother and author, then it is not surprising that his narrative should be embedded, repressed as it were, not beneath one but two other narrative voices. In this way Mary Shelley suppressed both her own female authorial voice and her most deep-rooted anxieties about motherhood by the narrative structure she chose for her first book.
Narrative Technique
We will now focus on an essential element in fiction, the narrator. Any story implies a narrator, that is, someone who tells the story. The narrator is not the same of the novelist, but a “persona” created by the novelist to tell the story. The narrator may be a character in the story and so tell events from inside the world of the story or simply a narrative voice. This narrative voice, in turn, can tell events from the inside or the outside and make itself felt in different ways in the narration. The choice of type of narrator determines the point of view from which the story is told, that is, an angle from which events are seen. This may be narrower or wider according to whether the narrator is inside or outside the story.
Structurally “Frankenstein” is an important link between the old and the new novel: it still relies heavily on XVIII° century forms such as the epistolary form and the long written or spoken confession, with a marked preference for indirect over direct speech; yet the three narrators’ interplay provides a very interesting and modern shifting of the point of view.
This allows for some psychological analysis, if not of the characters as single individuals at least as typical of certain aspects of human nature. We are given first an ideal portrait of Frankenstein by Walton, as of a man who nobly and undeservedly sufters; then Frankenstein’s portrait of himself, where already his boundless ambition begins to show its less pleasant side; and finally the monster’s indictment of his creator as a selfish and cruel man.
The author shapes a novel to ensure that the purposes of the work are communicated effectively to the reader. He or she will choose to position events and ideas in a particular order and will decide to present them through particular forms.
The events in Frankenstein do not happen in chronological order. The novel begins after most of the action has already happened. To understand the mystery behind Walton’s sighting of the creature and the decayed condition of Victor, the author returns to the past by using flashback. We go back to Victor’s childhood and life at university but then William’s murder creates a new mystery. In order to understand the lead-up to this event, Shelley turns the clock back to the early years of the monster. The two stories then converge. The final section of the novel explores the relationship between the creature and Victor.
Ironically, the popular mistake of thinking the name Frankenstein refers to the monster; it is clearly Frankenstein's double, his alter ego, his doppelganger. Since the monster is that part of himself that he has unloosed upon the world as a result of his meddling with nature.
THE TWO PROTAGONISTS: Frankenstein and the monster are complementary to each other, they are facets of the same personality.
THE MONSTER (different points of view): _As the destructive force released by Frankenstein through his attempts to penetrate nature.
_As the representative of alienated, possessionless, exploited working class.
_As the representative of natural man being educated through his contact with civilisation.
FRANKENSTEIN (different points of view): _As the Faustian overreacher.
_As the scientist who pursues knowledge divorced form feeling and morality.
_As one who is unable to find a replacement for his mother
_As one who wishes to usurp the role of woman by
producing offspring without female co-operation.
The epistolary structure of the novel, invite to see Frankenstein through the sympathetic eyes of Walton, and perhaps to read the novel with the refined sensibility of Walton's sister, Margaret.
We can recognise the strain of egocentricity in him that enables him to ignore family and friends during his long period of study and experiment.
the Frankenstein who loses all his loved ones can arouse our pity but it is difficult to accept his self-justifications at the end of the novel.

Percy:_ Tendency to insensitive to those who did not share his ideas and feelings.
_A worrisome strain of selfishness in his character.
_An egotism that too often rendered him an insensitive husband and an uncaring, irresponsible parent.

Victor:_ His neglect of loved ones like the Percy's insensitive.
_His egotism in the way that he is an irresponsible parent (because of his abandoning his creature and completely failing to accept his parental duties).
_Both suffer from a sense of isolation and alienation.
_Both begin with a desire to be benevolent but become obsessed with hatred and revenge.
_Both are filled with a sense of remorse at the crimes they have committed.
_Mary was a kind of modern Prometheus ( wishing to create a more perfect humanity). In both his roles Prometheus defined the established order to create a better world. Frankenstein is associated not only with Prometheus but with the two great overreachers and usurpers of the western tradition, Faust and Satan.
THE MONSTER: he is central to the book in more ways than one, since his creation poses so many and because his narrative forms the centre of the book.
Who is responsible for the monster's monstrosity? Shelley's answer is that society has created the monster. The novel's moral, according to Shelley, is "Treat a person ill".
The monster's isolation and alienation are the cause of his discontent, and one important aspect of his isolation is the lack of anyone to love him.
"Make me happy and I shall again be virtuous".
An important aspect of the monster is that he is an abandoned child. Frankenstein never asks himself if the creature's malignity might have been prevented if he had been nurtured properly, as the creature suggests.
The question he is led to repeat: "What was I?" is answered only with groans. It is passages like this which account for the sympathy the monster aroused, and even Frankenstein himself is momentarily moved by the creature's description of his condition. It is in the creature's account of his own development that Mary Shelly spoke most directly in her own voice, drawing on her own experience of isolation in the Godwin household.
Mary Shelley's Ideals :
1-NURTURE is very important for the development of a child!
2-Mutual love is what sustains adults!
The arguments for nurture derive partly from Rousseau’s Emile, where he says:
“God makes all things good ; man meddles with them and they become evil.”
Others deriving from Locke and Hartley and much of these remains valid also today.
Mary Shelley And Her Characters
We can see some characteristics of Mary Shelley by looking at her characters:
-the MONSTER : like him she is a motherless child and both lacking of love;
-HENRY CLERVAL : they are both poets , idealist , they love nature and have high moral concern;
-ELIZABETH : they represents domestic affection (the women are passive in the family’s affairs).
How are the chapters connected?
• 1-11: Are concerned with the childhood of Victor and the monster.
• 2-12: Focus on curious minds of Victor and the monster.
• 8-21: Victor finds himself in the same position as Justine.
• 5-20: Show the difference in Victor’s attitude to creating the two creatures.
• 10-17: Either side of monster’s story, Victor and the monster argue and discuss his needs.
• 6-18: Show the difference in Victor’s spirits as he journeys with Clerval.
• 9-18: Reveal Victor’s solitude, self-absorption and guilt.
• 18-23: Two female companions are destroyed but the tables are turned.
• 12-16: Show how the monster’s bright hopes turn to dark despair and revenge.
• 2-24: Show how Victor’s bright hopes have turned to dark despair and revenge.
Shelley uses this device to show either how characters have been changed by events, or how characters have not changed but are faced with a different situation.
We can learn about characters by looking at:
1. Their actions, behaviour and the way they speak.
2. Their desires, values and concerns.
3. How they view other characters, situations and events.
4. How other characters view them and talk to them.
5. Their relationship with other characters.
6. What the writer tells us or suggests to us.
Robert Walton
Walton is the narrator who begins the novel. Victor Frankenstein is first seen through his eyes. Walton is an ambitious man of twenty-eight years old: he is emotionally volatile and unpredictable. Emotionally his letters alternate between hope and glum. Walton is depicted as a Romantic man. His strong imagination is a potential danger. His desire for exploration was first inspired by poems, books and child fantasies. This man is very determinate and greed of knowledge.
Similitude between Walton and Victor
These two characters are similar for:
• They’re ambitious and thirsty of knowledge.
• They failed to realise the effect their actions can have on others.
• They feel themselves to be victims.
• They seems partially aware that their own “mad schemes” are also to blame.
Victor Frankenstein
He’s the second of the three narrators and the main character of the novel. He’s loved by almost everyone. The reader knows these images of the protagonist only tell half the story. Mary Shelley was presenting us with a balanced view of him. The traits of personality which make him a powerful character are the same traits which lead to his ruin. He’s described like a passionate, introverted , imaginative and enthusiastic man. His youth is characterised by an exaggerated thirst of knowledge and we can see it when his enthusiasm to discover the magnificent secrets of life lead him to tamper with graveyards and dead bodies: he starts to work , he fails to think about anything else only because he’s very ambitious and he has passion for glory. When the monster kills William and causes Justine’s death, Victor is divided between feelings of guilt and revenge. But he feels more remorse for abandoning the monster once he has created him because he knows he shouldn’t do it. Victor hates his creature and regrets his work and his fool ambition. After the request of the monster, Victor’s self absorption grows as a consequence of his genuine moral conflict. Victor still gives a rousing speech to the sailors, urging them on to meet the “danger of ice”. The death of this character is truly tragic and romantic. He dies with the romantic hope that another man might succeed in knowledge where he had failed: with this consideration we can understand that he cannot abandon his true character in the face of death.
Alphonse Frankenstein
He’s Victor’s father. He’s depicted as a kind, gentle and respectable man of wealth. Victor sees him like a good and responsible father with an active spirit of tenderness. Some time later it emerges like a distant and formal man (we can see that by looking at the tone of his letters):so Victor can’t confide his problem, his secret to him. Alphonse is however a good father and he only desires to see Victor and Elizabeth married for the happy of his son.
The Monster
The monster is a gigantic eight-foot-tall creature made from parts of dead corpses. The monster's unnatural ugliness and strength are reflected by the common thought of him as "demonical creature".
The monster seems an evil character that should be feared, he seems amused by killing people as William and Elizabeth, but the monster' s feelings of fury and misery are the results of his loneliness and rejection by the society. But deeply he is innocent; this is a normal reaction in front of all his troubles. Moreover he starts his life as an innocent and he's amazed by the world around him, nature, people, and literature. He helps people, for example the poor family in the forest, he only needed warm love, friends and the feeling to be understood and accepted by people. His brutal revenge is caused by the stupidity of society who rejects people, which look like different. The barrier between him and the society is his ugliness, nothing more.
He has got a terrible physical appearance but inside he has got only goodness. We don't know anything about his childhood, we only know that he is a male. He's a romantic hero and his final speeches are elevated and noble.
She's a "beautiful and adored" companion as Victor introduces her, she desires to create strong relationships with people. Her effects on the others for example show her goodness; she's gentle and courageous. She's a forward-thinking woman who has democratic values and she's proud of being Genevan and she's happy to see equality between the classes in Switzerland. Her belief in human goodness is shattered by Justine's unjust execution. She realises that "vice" is not "imaginary" but real.
William Frankenstein
• He’s the youngest son of Alphonse Frankenstein.
• He’s murdered by the monster, because he refuses to be his friend.
• His death serves many literal purposes:
1. It forces Victor to return home and encounter the monster on the way.
2. It makes us sympathise with Victor.
3. It forms the basis of the subplot involving Justine
4. The foulness of the murder makes Victor mistrust the monster. (this mistrust makes him destroy the female creature).
5. It shows how the monster is naïve in believing that William will be “unprejudiced”
(humans are prejudiced from an early age and this is the root of fear).
6. It introduces the theme of mutual revenge between Victor and the monster.

De Lacey
• He’s the gentle old blind man.
• His warm-hearted goodness to his family attracts the monster that pins all his future hopes of happiness on befriending him.
• His poverty has not stopped him from loving his son.
• The strong relationship he has created in his family emphasises the monster’s loneliness and makes the reader pity the creature.
• He’s the only character in the book who shows the monster any kindness (his blindness prevents him from being prejudiced)
• The monster’s desperation scares De Lacey and moves Felix misinterpreted the monster's intentions.
Minor Characters
• The minor characters are used to:
1. Move the plot forward.
2. Develop a theme.
3. Help us to learn more about the major character

• The minor character can be grouped together:
1. Virtuous women: - Caroline Beauport: she’s kind towards the poor because she remembers his poverty in her youth, and the adoption of Elizabeth recalls her history. Her care is a “passion” rather than a “duty”.
- Like Caroline, the orphans Elizabeth, Justine and Margaret all acts as surrogate mothers.
- Agatha and Sofie show gentleness and kindness toward De Lacey and Felix, and the kindness is what the monster lacks.

2. Inadequate fathers: in the novel we can see many fathers who, unlike the mothers, fail in their parental role:
- The fathers of Clerval, Walton and Sofie try to stop their children from pursuing their own interests.
- The father of Elizabeth abandons her
- Caroline’s father makes her suffer by his decision to hide from society after he lost his fortune.
All these fathers are different from De Lacey, and their failures highlight Victor’s more extreme failure to create the monster.
3. Ambitious son: Felix, Clerval and Walton all have passionate ambitions to be “benefactors” to mankind in some way. But
- Felix's plans cause suffering to his family.
- Walton's plans have the potential to be fatal.
- Clerval's plans seem harmless because of Elizabeth’s influence.
Women: preserving and creating human relationship.
Man: destroy them.
4. Scientists: - Alphonse’s friend: he gives Victor the ideas to use electricity and galvanism.
- Waldman: he explains the miracles of modern science.
- Krempe: he recalls Alphonse by his sarcastic dismissal of Victor’s passion for alchemy.
5. Judges: they’re the only professional characters other than scientists. They highlight the theme of:
- how people judge each.
- how the reader judges the characters.

The novel and the film: differences of plot
Difference in the time of exposition
Between the book and the film there is also a difference in the time of exposition because to read a book a man needs more time than to watch a film. This characteristic is underlined in the film: we can understand it because Branagh leaves out some parts of the story and in particular minor characters and roles. This is because in about two hours the film director must hold on the attention and the expectations of the spectators with special effects, violence and horror. In the book, on the contrary, the writer can dwell upon precise descriptions of the characters and places, commenting on events and giving opinions.
Differences between the plot of the film and the scenes of the film
1. In the book, Victor meets the monster after the homicide of his brother by the creature.
It wants a woman like itself and the doctor starts to create another monster; but when he arrives at half of his work, he has a remorse and destroys the half-made new creature.
In the film, on the contrary, Victor creates a woman for the monster but she commits suicide.
2. In the plot of Mary Shelley’s novel, the monster wants hid revenge on all the society because of his condition and because people consider him different and, for this reason, a monster, an ugly and dangerous person for the others, while in the film the monster wants his revenge only on Victor, his creator and Frankenstein’s family.
3) In the book, Victor meets his friend Clerval in Geneva because their parents are also good friends. Clerval doesn’t study at the University of Ingolstandt while in the film Frankenstein meets this other student at the university during a lesson of natural science.
4) Frankenstein’s father dies in the book of a heart attack when he finds Elizabeth killed by the monster while in the film it is the monster itself that murders Victor’s father.
5) When Victor Frankenstein meets Captain Roberts Walton, near the North Pole in the book the doctor is old, ill, weak and dying while in the film Victor is quite young, rather strong and active when he walks to the ship of the sailors.
6) In the film after the creation of the monster, Victor is ill, tired and filled with horror. Clerval, his friend, takes care of him and Elizabeth is there too. In the book on the contrary, the girl remains in Geneva with Victor’s family.
7) The first part of the story when Victor is a young boy, in the house in Geneva, is narrated by the writer with a detailed description of the place and narration of the facts and feelings. In the film this introductiary part is nearly totally absent.
8) After the monster kill’s Victor’s brother, we see that in the film Justine is executed after a trial and we don’t know if she had confessed her crime while in the book she admits her murder even if she is innocent.
9)Victor isn’t in Geneva when he learns in a letter from his father that his youngest brother William has been strangled.
10)William talks to the monster and William is wearing the portrait of Caroline (not Victor).
11)In the book, Victor had another brother, Ernest.
12)The monster collects firewood for the De Laceys, not beetroots.
13)In the book, the monster learns how to read and write when Felix teaches his language to an Arabian girl called Sofie by reading from a history book; in the film this girl is not present and we do not have the impression that books are an important influence on the monster. The character of Sofie is important because the De Laceys welcome her into their family, despite the differences of the appearance and culture. This contrast with the rejection that the monster has experienced so far. 14)In the film Victor doesn’t go to the remote Orkney Islands to make a female creature for the monster. 15)The monster saves a young girl in the book, not present in the film. 16)In the book the monster learned to love virtue and hate vice from the story of the De Laceys and this part is secondary in the film.
Similarities between the book and the film
The film and the book have also some parts in common like for example when the monster learns to speak and read from a family of farmers.
Another similarity is present in the end of the story when near to the North Pole, Victor dies and Captain Roberts Walton meets the monster before it runs away in the fog and commits suicide. Kenneth Branagh, the director of the film, hasn’t changed these parts of the plot in the book because in the first part, Branagh shows the characteristic and behaviour of the monster before it use its violence against other people, in a moment of tenderness, and in the second part, a great end for a good film of Hollywood rich in violence, action, horror and a bit of unhappiness and sorrowful of the monster for the death of Frankenstein.
Why Mary Shelley wrote ”Frankenstein
Mary Shelley wrote “Frankenstein” almost two centuries ago, in 1818, when she lived in another historical context with differences in culture, science and society. Frankenstein is one of the most terrifying examples of black or gothic fiction and so it’s considered the first science fiction novel of our century. The novel has a catastrophic end but this end is not only in the story but also in the life of people if they don’t respect the rules of nature, religion and ethic. In this book,the man, has committed the sin of going beyond the limits of science and god. Mary Shelley wrote this book when she was only 19 years old but her fiction isn’t completely created by the imagination of the writer. Shelley in fact wrote in the book the story of a dream but the novel is also inspired by the ideas of the natural science of the time. In fact in this time, scientists thought they could reproduce or create artificially life and produce automatons and robots. Beyond these ideas and the dream of Mary Shelley, there is the unlucky life of the writer and her big unhappiness. In fact, when she was born, her mother died. After this when she was a young girl, she ran off to Europe with Percy Shelley who died in a voyage by boat on the sea. Mary’s sons died too. All these problems in her life affected her ideas, feelings and the same typology of fiction. We find all these characteristics in the content of the story.
Main differences between the novel of Mary Shelley and the Kenneth Brahnag’s film
The novel and the film: differences of intents
After the vision of the film “Frankenstein of Mary Shelley” directed by Kenneth Branagh (1994) and the reading of the novel “Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus”, written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (1818), we have noticed that there are some differences between the film director’s intents and the authoress’ ones. First of all we must underline that the gap of time which separates Branagh and Shelley (more than a century) implicates that they care about different themes.
Mary Shelley is worried about the dangers of the excess of human ambition and of the thirst of knowledge;we can explicitly understand it on Chapter 4, where Victor says: “learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much is happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who expires to become greater then his nature will allow”. That is, the authoress makes an explicit admonition to the ones who wants to play God.
Instead Kenneth Branagh brought Mary Shelley’s ideas one step further actualising the whole event to our days: he leads the audience beyond the imaginative speculations of a young 18th century scientist into the tantalazing possibility of the new millennium: human clonation. Differently from the novel, Victor, in the film, after his mother’s death, swears in front of his grave that anybody else won’t die. With his researches and experiments he wants to create a new race, immortal, “.....cheerful, without pain, that doesn’t know what death is.....”; on the contrary, for M.Shelley’s Victor, experiments and researches are finalizated to the reaching of personal glory.
Besides, the novel and the film have got a difference that renders them deeply dissimilar: the theme on which they mainly concentrate their attention. That is, Mary Shelley wrote the novel to highlight particular feelings and states of mind of the monster: in fact, she often dwells upon to describe the creature’s moods. Even Kenneth Branagh (as Victor Frankenstein) while he’s leading an experiment into his lab to conclude his main work, the terrible creature. In the film Kenneth Branagh doesn’t neglect to insert touching scenes which make us understand the monster’s feelings, but his main interest is to impress, to shock the crowd , so he uses above all special effect, agitated scenes, involving musics and things like that.
Obviously this choice of theme is dictated from a technical requirement: books must stimulate readers’ imagination, so, since they cannot visualise images, they must make the readers become an only thing with the characters of the novel, personifying with them. To succeed in it, authors must be very introspective: that’s what Mary Shelley made with the monster. Instead, Kenneth Branagh meets with the opposite problem: to use only images and musics to express the characters’ feelings to the crowd; naturally he has been obliged to point on involving scenes, neglecting introspective parts in favour of scenes which could scare and excite the spectators.
The Filmography on Frankenstein
After the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, a lot of stories about “the Creature” were burn, but must times the story was different. In fact the filmography changes the original story to increase the emotion of the films.
Today the majority of the people prefer going to the cinema and watching television, instead of reading books. This fact leads people to know only the reality of the films about “Frankenstein”. But most times this reality is different from the truth story. In fact in many films the name Frankenstein is given to the monster, and not to the doctor; yet in the original version as on the book, Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, and his creation has “no name” or at least “Creature”. Moreover, in horror films the monster is a kind of machine, but originally it is a “flesh and blood” product.
It is probably for this reason that people see in Frankenstein’s story only the sense of horror and not the meaning that Mary Shelley wanted to give with her novel; the meaning of ambition of men against the natural course of events.
The central concern of the book are the moral consequences of ambition. Walton and Victor may have good intentions to be “benefactors” to mankind by discovering great thing, but as a result Victor destroys himself and those around him, and Walton puts his crew a risk. They fall victims to their uncontrollable passion to realise their dreams. Both characters are only partially aware of their surroundings and what they are doing. Victor is only able to see with hindsight that his experiments on corpses are immoral and “unhallowed acts”? And Walton’s fantasy that “snow and frost are banished from the North Pole is shown in stark contrast to the real facts. Real problems occur when the ambition of Victor and Walton endanger the lives of other people. Unlike Victor, Walton abandons his “mad schemes”. He saves his crew, but reluctantly. Victor, however, is so “wrapped up” in the process of making his creature that fails even to consider what his responsibilities towards it will be once it comes alive. Victor’s ambitions are “selfish” and quite the opposite of a benefit to mankind!
Walton, Victor and the monster all begin their stories by expressing a deep desire to explain the world around them, which is like an unknown mystery waiting to be discovered. Each has a different focus. The monster wants to “discover the motives” behind the De Laceys “behaviour” and to “unravel the mystery” of language. His humble aims are human, social, and arise from necessity. Victor and Walton, however, have lofty ambitions and are prepared to sacrifice human relationships in order to fulfil them. Victor’s “eager desire” to find the “hidden laws of nature” and Walton’s “ardent” passion to explore the “undiscovered solitudes” of the North Pole take them away from their loved ones and into isolation. However, their sacrifices are much deeper and more disturbing than this.
The idea of Frankenstein as one in pursuit of lawful knowledge, knowledge not befitting the human mind was present from the beginning. Although, in the 1818 edition, Frankenstein does not refer to his creative activity as “unhallowed”, he does refer to the “unhallowed damps of the grave” and to disturbing with profane fingers the tremendous secrets of the human frame. He compares his speculations, which, at the beginning, he hoped would result in the domination of nature, with the attempt by Satan to gain omnipotence.
The source of the conflict between Victor and the monster starts when the monster knows that he has been the victim of foul injustice at the hands of humans and he wants Victor to correct these wrongs, and do in this way, JUSTICE.
The monster sees himself as the son of Victor when he says: 'I am thy creature: ought to be thy
Adam but I am rather the fallen angel, and demands that Victor fulfil his duty as a father. His deeds of revenge and mischief are due to pain, suffering and abandonment; this makes Victor partially responsible for the deaths of William and Justine. Victor cannot give the monster friendship because he cannot forgive him for William's murder. However, Victor does realise that he has 'no right' to withhold the gift of a female creature and that it would be 'justice' to create her. To deny him a mate is to deny him of his natural right to fraternity.
The need for love, whether from friends, family or a partner, is a crucial issue in the novel. Victor's early years are portrayed as a paradise. Unlike the monster, he has nolonging for love and affection because his parents ‘overflowed with kindness’. Close relationships are depicted as a life-giving force. Nature is also seen as a friend with the power to lift a human out of gloom and anxiety. Victor brings the creature back to life but fails to act as his friend and this is why the monster justice making evil to Victor’s friends. The revenge appears as a natural affect of Victor's experiment.
In the eighth chapter Shelley introduces an important theme of discussion: the political system of justice. In this chapter, Justine is hanged for William's murder; through the dialogue between Victor and Justine in the prison, we can see the unfairness of the legal system and the corruption in religious institutions. In fact, Justine says: 'I commit my cause to the justice of my judge, yet I see no room for hope.' ; than Victor says: '…all judges had rather than ten innocent should suffer than one guilty should escape.' The religious corruption is evident when Justine says: 'Ever since I was condemned, my confessor has besieged me; he threatened and menaced, until I almost began to think that I was the monster that he said I was. (…) In an evil hour I subscribed to a lie...'. So we can find the macabre irony that a man of God should cruelly abuse his power to and force Justine confess a lie makes her feel like a monster.
Injustice is the major theme of Frankenstein. Not only the monster is victim of social injustice, but many people in the book are punished for crimes they didn't commit; the monster suffers because, for his physical aspect, people don’t judge him like them. Felix, for example, drives out him because, seeing him physically, thinks that he is a criminal. It is for this reason that then he becomes bad and vindictive, because people are injected with him, and base their opinion on exteriority. The only one person that listen to him is Felix's father because he is blind.
Others victims of injustice are Safie's father who is treated unjustly by the French government, the De Lacey family suffer poverty as a result of injustice and also Frankenstein who at first proved innocent, is imprisoned and declared guilty of the death of his friend Clerval. Anyway the most evident case of injustice in this book, besides the monster's case, is Justine Moritz that is even killed for a crime that she didn't commit, that is to say the murder of William the younger brother of Frankenstein.
Elizabeth is against the behaviour of people that has brought Justine to death and she also says that while Justine is executed unjustly for a crime that she didn't commit, the real murderer is free again and perhaps even respected. At last needless to say that also William and Elizabeth are victims of injustice. They are even killed unjustly because of the injustice suffered from the monster.
Opinion, like or dislike formed before one has adequate knowledge or experience.
In Frankenstein, there are many examples of characters who are prejudiced misunderstood and victimised by others, which leads to their rejection, isolation and despair.
Justine, the Turkish Merchant and Victor are oppressed by people who crassly abuse their authority. Justine is wrongly put to death by judges who ‘had rather ten innocent should suffer than one guilty should escape. She is also forced to confess a lie by a priest.
Similarly, the Turk is condemned to death because the French authorities dislike his race, values and culture, which are different from their own.
People’s fear of things which are unknown to them or which they don't understand, can bring out the worst in them-namely, mental cruelty and physical violence. People oppress other people by attacking, excluding, or imprisoning them in order to control the source oh this fear.
Victor is treated roughly and brought in front of a magistrate by the suspicious Irish crowd because
he is foreign. Justine is tormented by the crowd because they have already labelled her a child-murdered. Most obviously, the monster is beaten by the villagers because of his ugly physical appearance. They don't judge him by his actions or seek to understand him.
The prison is an important symbol. The imprisonment of Justine and Victor are injustices because they are both innocent. The monster has to retreat into a hovel, a symbol of this social exclusion,
rejection and isolation. It’s his prison.
In addition to trying to understand and fit into human society, it was primary importance for the monster to understand who he was and his origins. He developed by himself through the experience of sensations without guidance from similar beings. He was shunned by society and ha no understanding of why he was different, why he had no family and why there was no one else like him.
The most significant mark of the monster's alienation from society was his lack of name. The absence of a name denies the monster the knowledge of he is, his fami1iar origins and a connection to successive generations. The monster's lack of a name and place in society, which caused him such distress, is shown in the following: he is narrating his experiences to Victor.
"But where are my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses. I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I?”
People's inability to see the true reality beneath the appearance of things is a central theme. The window or frame is a symbol of how we view things. Many characters are mentally imprisoned by their own perspectives.
Until Chapter 11, we see the monster as a 'devil' because this is how Victor sees him. We get a big shock when the monster speaks. His thoughts are beautiful. When Victor sees him at the window of his hut in the Orkneys he describes him as full of 'treachery'. We don't believe him. It's only now we see that Victor's prejudices have clouded his judgement. There are two perspectives of the creature: a 'feeling and kind friend' or a 'detestable monster'. William, the nurse, Felix, the old man and the Turk all have limited view points.
There are manyinstances when we feel that the human are more monstrous than the monster. Shelley could be using the monster as a symbol for our own ugliness or the animal side of man's nature.
Although the monster appears to be the cause of fear and prejudice, he might stand for our ugly and violent reaction to something unknown and different.
The nineteen year old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin had been involved in a competitive game,in which everyone had to tell a horrifying story, with the poet Shelley, the already famous Byron and doctor Polidori during a frightening night in the summer of 1816.
The group, assembled at Diodati’s villa, broke up before the Decameron of the horror had finished; only Mary did not abandon its " creation” that had begun living in that " dark night of November ".
Mary eloped at the age of 16 with Shelley: they were never forgiven by their fathers, and they were denied and disowned by their families and blamed for the deaths which happened unexpected.
In October Fanny Imaly, Mary’s sister, committed suicide leaving therefore the Godwin family.
Her last words are: "I have convinced myself, for a long time, that the best thing that I can do is to put an end to the existence of a being whose life has only caused pains to that who have tried to do everything in their power for my good ": the sister-mother who for years had devoted her the life to help the others, dies asking with this note a life, and Mary will describe in her novel(in the characters of Elizabeth and Justine) the tragic condition of dedication and impotence.
Pain, sense of injustice and guilt are frozen in Mary, in a letter of her father, that offer two years after her elopement from her house with Shelley, he writes her and imposes her to be silent about the dead woman. The corpse of Funny will end, " not recognized " by anybody, in the commongrave, while it will be said at first that she had left for Ireland, then that also she is a victim-in love with Shelley and jealous of Mary.
The two young people are found guilty.
Another important aspect, as it reminds the Introduction of 1831,is given by the two poets who discussed the more recent science, is Darwin’s experiments to animate inorganic matter (and the possibility that galvanism could produce the vital spark in a position to give life to a body already dead).
The forecast, the dream of new science, becomes immediately, in the mind of the young person Mary who listens, an horrible nightmare, more distressing than her imagination could ever invent.
The biological process of the creation of life is transformed in front of her eyes in an abnormal one, like an icy industrial machine: the handmade matter has got an adult, gigantic body; its construction-creation is a pieces assemblage.
The male utopy of the industrial revolution time of being able “to produce” everything, also human beings become therefore the femine nightmare of such experiments, and Mary said: “I have found. What has terrified me will terrify the others, too”.
There is a method in this so-called madness: the three crimes and the false traces that they provide to accuse the innocents, trace in facts a design that does not have anything of accidental.
The revenge of the excluded comes true according to the law of retaliation, along with subtle and complex correspondences.
As an example the death of William Frankenstein have like its antecedent fact: the rescue of the child that is going to drown and the gunshot received as a thank you, but William is also the child the monster knows that he has never been: loved and brought up by a beautiful mother like the one in the picture in the miniature William has.
After the death of P. Shelley, and the loss of her sons one after the other, it is as if in her life everything had already happened in only 25 years.
Therefore in these years, from a present without future, she continually returns to travel, after a long time, the old European routes, travelling, this time with the only surviving son, and writing her last published work, “Rambles in German and Italy” (1844).
A. Victor’s Personality and family situation
Victor has always been interested in science and in the mysteries of creation .
After a happy childhood, when he goes to Ingolstadt university he gets in touch with grief for the first time in his life.
In fact, Victor is the “Modern Prometheus”, who he had believed he could produce by himself and without love a new humanity, but who is in reality a bearer of death .
From that moment his identity breaks up : the utopian boy of the past that hides the other secret Frankenstein.
Victor is the perfect figure of the good scientist that wants to contribute as much as possible to science and human development , without any hidden purpose and above all without any intention of breaking the rules of civil community life .
Inside himself, Victor lives a conflict between good and evil, between possible and impossible, between reason and belief, first in an unconscious form of a longing for something new and important , but the creation is imperfect .
Frankenstein changes the established order only because he wanted to try the creation of a new man.
He replaces another creator in the universal order, in this way he does an act of daring pride, typical of the nineteenth century romantic man, and he will pay for this action.
Frankenstein ‘s real fault was trying to find to extend the man ‘s power, not only beyond the “laws” established by the religious tradition , but beyond the limit set by the reason too : now that his turn has come , he was becoming unreasonable and the origin of evil for humanity .
His crime was supplying the monster with the best and the worst feelings that could be in a man, to render him from an intellectual viewpoint a real man, without giving him the corresponding physical qualities.
Victor realised that he has made a terrible mistake only after he had heard the Monster’s long story, maybe because he ‘s privileged, because he’s got his parents, some friends, the love of a girl or maybe because he was too busy with his scientific research.
At the beginning he tries to find a remedy for his mistake, he commits himself to create a companion for the Monster.
It ‘s no longer science that inspires him in this second creation, but compassion, the human care for the being that he created, that was claiming the parent – child relationship towards him (in fact he tries to set up a relationship with Victor without any results ) .
After his meeting with the monster on the mountain, Frankenstein isn’t overcome by a guilty feeling but by the logic of reason, that shows him how abominable is the action that he’ s going to do towards humanity and evolution .
He’s aware of the sacrifice he is damned to , but he is not so much aware of the sacrifice his family are damned to, in the name of reason, of scientific correctness and universal good for humanity :it is better his death or the death of his relatives and friends than a scourge for humanity .
The word myth derives from “mythéo”, Greek term that means" tell or narrate" and in fact it consists in a fantastic narration of deeds carried out from divine figures or ancestors.
The myth can give an apparently rational explanation of the natural phenomena, a legitimization of social institution, and more generically a solution to those problems that the religious experience places the collectivity.
The main characteristics of the myths are that they spread orally before being written and that they perpetuated themself in the tradition of people.
Two typologies of myth can be distinguished: naturalistic which has the purpose of giving a meaning to the phenomena of nature, in particular of explaining the historical origin of the cosmos, historical myth which explains meaning of social life and the fundamental institutions of the State.
The myth we are dealing with is of historical type.
Prometeo is the protagonist of the myth which explains the origins and the first form of civilization of humanity.
Relatively late traditions narrate that Prometeo had modelled the first man and the first animals with water and clay.
In Platone’s"Protagora" we can find a modified version of the probably more ancient myth: gods created the first man and the first animals underground, then asked Prometeo and his brother Epimeteoto to take the light and distribute quality and ability to men.
Epimeteo with irresponsible attitude gave everything to the animals and the man remained defenseless and naked.
Prometeo, whose name in Greek means" provident" to help them stole the fire in the attemp to improve their existence, just as Frankestein takes possession from God of the power to give life to a lifeless body to allow, as the same scientist declares,"the persons who love themselves not to have to leave".
That of Prometeo becomes therefore a sort of figure of connection between divine plan and human plan of the existence.
Considering now Prometeo’s noble behaviour comparing him with the man it is possible to make one distinction between the god of Mount Olympus and Frankenstein. Although both reach the creation of living being, if we go back to the most ancient version of the myth, Prometeo is interested in making his creatures to survive while the ambitious scientist initially abadons it escaping from its horrible aspect and, after deceiving it he rejects it definitively.
In spite of the different character’s conception of responsibility to own creature(first men and monster), both will be punished, even if for the Giant is a physical pain( because he is chained to a rock with a vulture that eats continuously its liver)and for Frankenstein the punishment is moral because his relations’, friends’ and his life will be unendurable
Mary Shelley’s life
Mary Shelley was born on 30 August 1797.
She was the only child of Mary Wollstonecraft, an early feminist, and William Godwin, a radical philosopher and novelist.
Mary never knew her mother as she died just ten days after giving birth. Literary theorists have suggested that this sense of loss and search for identity can be found in Mary’s works, particularly in Frankenstein and the creature’s search for his creator.
Mary was just fifteen years old when she first met Percy Shelley. He was married with Harriet but he was unhappy in his marriage feeling.
Mary and Percy began to meet there in secret and before become lovers.
They began a trip across Europe.
In 1815 Mary gave a birth to a baby girl in february, Clara, who died in March.
On January 24, 1816 she gave a birth to a baby boy, William.
In the summer of this year, Mary go to Geneva, with her stepsister Claire, Shelley, Byron and Polidori, Byron’s physician. The group read aloud a collection of German ghosts stories, the Fantasmagoriana and Byron proposed that they should each write a ghost story. That night Mary suffered a waking nightmare and from this grew the story of Frankenstein.
On June 16, 1816, she begins to write Frankenstein.
Shelley’s wife, Harriet, drowned herself and he was free to marry Mary, which he did on 30th December 1816.
Mary gave a birth to a girl, Clara, on 2 September 1817.
In 1818 was pubblished Frankenstein and in the same year, Clara died.
On June 7, 1819, William Shelley died from malaria. In the same year Mary write Matilda.
On July 1, 1822, Shelley and Byron drowned in the Gulf of Spezia.
In 1824 Mary begin to write The Last Man, which is published in 1826.
In 1830 The fortunes of Perkin Warbek is published.
In 1835, Lodore and Lives of the most … are published.
In 1837 Falkner is published.
In 1839 Mary undergoes a period of severe illness. She is frequently ill for the last 10 years of her life.
In 1851 Mary died at age 53 in her home in London. She’s buried between her parents.
Mary’s mother
Mary Wollstonecraft was born in 1750.
She began her protests of the condition of woman at an early age by protecting her mother from her father’s abuse and resenting her brother’s favoured position.
She decide at an early age to be independent and at nineteen she took a position as a paid companion.
She worked as a governess, but the work was frustrating for her because she was so intelligent and ambitious.
An important work is Vindication of the Rights of woman, wrote in 1790.
In 1791 she met W.Godwin and , pregnant, she marry him in 1797.
She died on September 10, 1797 for an infection.
Mary Wollstonecraft has been called the “first feminist” or at last “mother of modern feminism”.
Mary’s father
William Godwin was born at Wisbech in 1756.
He went to school some years and he studied with a private tutor.
Left the college, Godwin was a Tory, became a minister and five years later he was a convinced radical.
In 1787 Godwin left the ecclesiastic carrier and became a full-time writer.
In 1794 he published an avant-garde romance, The adventures of Celeb Williams.
In 1797 W.Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft, who died a bit later the birth of her daughter Mary. In memory of his wife he wrote “Memoirs of the autor of a Vindication of the rights of women”.
He died in 1836.
Mary’s husband
Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4, 1792.
He was the most determinedly professional writer. He had produced a series of longs poems and poetic dramas aimed at the main political and spiritual problems of his age.
On August 28, 1811, he married Harriet Westbrook in Scotland. Harriet was only 16. The marriage wasn’t happy but they had two children.
In June 1814, Mary first entered Shelley’s life. His life was to never be the same. He was completely bewitched by Mary’s intellectualism, beauty and youth..
Shelley was still married to Harriet when he ran of with Mary. On December 15, 1816, Harriet committed suicide.
On December 30, 1816, Mary and Shelley marry in London.
He died on July,1,1822.