Friday, October 14, 2016

Three Reasons To Read Frankenstein

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.

Have you read Frankenstein? What’s your favorite “creepy” classic?


  1. I took an entire class on Mary Shelley and Frankenstein. It was quite enjoyable. The story is intriguing. I like the Creature more than I like Victor. (Victor's kind of an idiot. Everybody: Victor don't do the thing! Victor: I'm going to do the thing!)

    Since I've already read it, this year I'm going to read a graphic novel version of by Gris Grimly. I heard it's fantastic and has spectacular artwork. I'm stoked. :)

    The Judge's House by Bram Stoker is a super creepy story about a guy in a house with rats... It gave me the heebie-jeebies.

    1. That sounds like a really interesting class. It's one of those stories that was so different from what I was expecting but in the best way. (And that is the best description of Victor Frankenstein I think I've ever read!)

      I haven't heard of the graphic novel before. I'll have to look it up!

      Ooh, that does sound creepy. I've never read any of Bram Stoker's work before, but I've been meaning to. Dracula has been on my reading list for...a while. One day I'll read it though!

  2. I highly suggest seeing the National Theatre Live's Encore screening of Frankenstein starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Johnny Lee Miller. It's coming back to select cinemas Oct 25th! It's becoming a Halloween tradition to reread the book and then go see the show (if possible).

    1. I really want to check that one out! I saw the trailer on YouTube a couple years ago, but unfortunately it hasn't been showing in my area. I've heard it was really good though (and I'm really intrigued by the fact that they swapped roles for different performances!).

  3. I really need to read this. My class isn't reading it, but we're going to see the Cumberbatch/Miller rendition and talk about that one instead! (We are pressed for time, lol.) I can't wait! Thanks for this recommendation. :)

    1. I've heard good things about that production! Hopefully one day they'll show it in my area. :) Which version did you see?

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