On the occasion of Frankenstein Day, let’s look into the life of acclaimed author Mary Shelley and her widely celebrated work ‘Frankenstein’.
Born on 30th August 1797, Mary Shelley isn’t a name unknown to the literature enthusiasts. At a young age of 18, she made a mark for herself amongst the literary greats with her widely celebrated horror novel Frankenstein.
Her novel, born out of a friendly discussion and instigation by Lord Byron, earned her the title of “mother of horror stories”. With no prior writing experience, she displayed an exemplary display of her skills with Frankenstein, and reflected the literary genes she accrued from her parents- political writer William Godwin and famed feminist Mary Wollstonecraft.
30th August marks itself as ‘Frankenstein Day’ to honour and celebrate this literary gem and her masterpiece.
Touching upon the themes of incessant quest for dangerous knowledge, ambition, and monstrosity, Frankenstein, published in 1818 is a masterpiece, remarkable in every aspect of its being.
Victor Frankenstein, a scientist with his quench for forbidden knowledge discovers how to create a living being out of inanimate dead beings. Putting his research into practice, Victor creates a living monster which he abandons at its very first glimpse, filled with hate and disgust for his creation.
Little did Victor know that in the process of creation of the monster, he is writing his and his family’s doom.
What provokes the reader’s thoughts is the diminishing line between the monster and Victor with the question of what it is to be a monster, which underplays in the text. How human is the monster and how monstrous is Victor becomes the theme which prevents the novel from becoming a flat-read of black and white characters.
The novel masterfully puts forth the perspective of the monster, and the sense of alienation and loneliness which engulfed him after his creator Victor abandoned him. As Victor goes on to continually defend his actions, Mary ultimately questions his ambitions and, cryptically, holds him responsible for all the suffering he and his family undergo.
Frankenstein is filled with suffering, death, and sadness and many critics find it to be a reflection of Mary’s own life filled with suffering. She lost her mother when she was barely ten days old, eloped with and married Percy Shelley when she was 16, and she lost him a few years later and three of her four children before they even touched the age of three.
Thus, her life filled with tragedy is reflected in her most famous work.
This novel laid the foundation for all the coming science fiction and horror novels and earned itself a classic position. With pertinent themes and intriguing narration, Frankenstein becomes a poignant read.
It’s not every other novel that has a special day to its name. So, cosy up in your beds this rainy weekend with a cup of coffee in one hand and Frankenstein in another.
Frankenstein by Mary Shelley is a part of English Honours’ fourth-semester syllabus.
Feature Image Credits: Looking-glass Theatre Company