October is a perfect time to grab your favorite reading chair, a cup of hot chocolate, and a good book. With Halloween just around the corner, it’s also a perfect time to pick up a creepy classic!
When I first read Frankenstein, it was actually during a spring vacation at the beach a few years ago. I was immediately drawn into the story, and it has remained a favorite ever since. With its darker subject matter and its infamous monster, Frankenstein makes a perfect autumn read as well.
Here are three reasons to read Frankenstein:
1) It’s considered the beginning of a genre.
The history of Mary Shelley’s novel is rather fascinating. The story emerged after a dare from Lord Byron in 1816:
“We will each write a ghost story,” said Lord Byron; and his proposition was acceded to….I busied myself to think of a story,—a story to rival those which excited us to this task. One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror—one to make the reader dread to look around, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart.- Mary Shelley, “Author’s Introduction,” from the 1831 Standard Novels edition
Frankenstein is regarded as the book which began the science fiction genre. Nearing its 200th publication anniversary, what better time to give this classic a try?
2) It’s creepy.
Frankenstein is a book that keeps the twists coming. The Creature always seems to be there, threatening to reveal what Victor wants so desperately to hide—that he is the monster’s creator. The book is written in first-person, giving the reader a first-hand account of the guilt, horror, and fear that follows the doctor’s steps even when he thinks he has escaped.
“Do not ask me,” cried I, putting my hands before my eyes, for I thought I saw the dreaded spectre glide into the room; “he can tell.—Oh, save me! save me!” I imagined that the monster seized me; I struggled furiously and fell down in a fit.- Frankenstein, Chapter Five
3) The characters are complex—even the monster!
The primary characters are Victor Frankenstein and his creation, and both are given a chance to narrate and show their version of events.
“...Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”“Begone! I will not hear you. There can be no community between you and me; we are enemies. Begone, or let us try our strength in a fight in which one must fall.”- The Creature and Victor, Frankenstein, Chapter Ten
Victor’s narrative shows the path of decisions which led to the creation of the Creature and the destruction which follows. The Creature’s account of his time in hiding shows the similarities between himself and his creator, and the reasons why he follows Victor with such vengeful acts. They are a mirror to each other, reflecting the grim results and consequences of their actions and choices.