Frankenstein`s Big Mistake
by Kirin Sugino
mshelley.jpgThe Author:
Mary (Wollstonecraft Godwin) Shelley was born in London on August 30, 1797. She was an English writer of the Romantic era who is most famously known for being the writer of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft; a feminist and the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Her father, William Godwin, was a political philosopher. Brought up by her father (her mother had died at childbirth), Mary was provided a rich education where she also learned her father`s liberal political theories. She married the Romantic poet Percy Shelley in 1816, and in that very same year she started writing the story of Frankenstein.
Frankenstein was written during one of Mary's most hard-going times in her life. Following the death of her first two children in the years 1818 and 1819, her husband died in a heavy squall during 1822. These events might have led to the creation of the two important themes of the story, life and death.
Though Frankenstein is her most famous, Mary has written a number of more novels including The Last Man which talks about the future. She also edited and annotated many of her husband`s poems after his death in 1822.

BigFrankenstein.jpgThe Story:
The story starts out with a series of letters from a young man called Robert Walton to his sister Margaret, who resides in London. Robert Walton is the young captain of a ship embarking on a voyage to the North Pole. His ambitions strong and his decisions firm, he is determined to uncover the many secrets that the North holds. "What may not be expected in a country of eternal light? I may there discover the wondrous power that attracts the needle; and may regulate a thousand celestial observations..."

Yet his luck at the beginning of his journey is abruptly turned over when his ship gets trapped in a vast sea of ice. It was during this time when he spots a figure on a dogsled, speeding by. And it was only the next morning when another one drifts towards their ship. This is how Robert Walton meets Victor Frankenstein. Terribly weakened by the cold, it takes Robert a long time to nurse Victor back to a point where he could talk. Over a course of a week, this mysterious man then tells Robert the tale of his unfortunate past.

Victor begins with the story of his childhood days where he spends happy moments surrounded by the magnificent mountains and the gorgeous lakes of Geneva, Switzerland. He grows up living among his benevolent parents, his cousin Elizabeth Lavenza, and his dearest friend Henry Clerval.
Even in his young years Victor had been an ambitious boy; fascinated in the natural sciences. At the end of his childhood, he is sent to the university of Ingolstadt to learn all he could about natural philosophy and chemistry, in which he becomes engrossed by a strong desire to discover the secret of life and death. After many years of hard work and research he becomes convinced that he has finally found this secret. But Victor is not yet finished. Having this new knowledge becomes a catalyst for an addition of years dedicated to creating an actual live-form of a human being. Then one night, in his laboratory/apartment, he brings his creation to life. But when he looks at what he made, the sight terrifies him. A fitful night of sleep is broken when he sees the monster looming over him. Horrified and wretched, Victor flees where he wanders aimlessly about on the streets.
By chance he meets Henry Clerval who had come to Ingolstadt to study in the very same university as Victor. Henry, in seeing his friend's agitation and illness, comes to the rescue, and with unlimited kindness restores Victor back to health. Hoping that his home country would soothe his troubled heart, Victor prepares to return to his family, only to find out that his little brother William had been brutally strangled to death. While hastily making his way back through the woods where William was murdered, Victor spots the disarrayed figure of the monster and becomes convinced that the evil deed was done by it.
Filled with guilt and remorse for what the monster had done, he arrives in Geneva. However to his horror, the person accused for the murder of William was none other than Justine Moritz, a benevolent, gentle girl who had been adopted at an early age by the Frankensteins. Deaf to the pleas of the family, Justin is hanged. Victor`s heart becomes heavy with sorrow and guilt, for he believed that all the blame was to be on him since it was he who had created the monster responsible for the two innocent lives.
Hoping that their mighty company would hush his mounting sorrows, he visits the great mountains of Switzerland. While crossing a huge glacier on his way down, he meets his hideous creation, the monster. The monster begs for forgiveness on the murder of William, saying that he had done it on a desperate move to hurt his Victor, marble-hearted creator, in any way he could. After being abandoned by Victor, the monster had wondered for many days in the mountains, living piteously on little food and shelter. Neglected and hurt by man-kind, he hides in a little cottage where a family called the De Lacey were living. It was through observing them that the monster learned how to speak. He loved the gentle figures of the old man De Lacey, his son and his daughter, and a foreign woman by the name of Safie. The monster finally brought up the courage to speak directly with De Lacey. But he failed and was brutally thrown away. The family moved out of the cottage in fear and the monster was left alone again.
On relaying this tale, the monster asks Victor to create a mate, equally grotesque, so that he would have a companion and not have to live alone forever. After much toil, Victor finally agrees. Victor then heads for England with Henry to gather information and materials for the creation of the female monster. Going on separate ways with Henry waiting for him in Scotland, Victor comes to a little secluded island in the Orkneys and starts working again. However, one night the truth of this evil feat at last dawns on him, and within the glaring eyes of the monster, he destroys what he has made of the female monster. Enraged, the monster vows revenge and swears to be with Victor on his wedding night with Elizabeth.
Later on a boat, Victor takes the remains of his second creation and throws it into the lake. But the wind suddenly turns strong and he is unable to return to shore. In the morning he finds himself stranded on an unknown town and upon meeting the residences there, he is promptly arrested for the murder of none other than Henry Clerval, his dearest friend! Shocked and utterly miserable, Victor falls ill. Yet he was proven innocent and was returned to Geneva. Shortly after that he marries Elizabeth. Fearful of the monster`s oath, Victor sends Elizabeth to bed and waits for the monster with a knife in his hand and a gun in his belt. Suddenly he hears Elizabeth scream. In vain he tries to rescue her but the monster`s deed is done and Elizabeth lies dead and cold on the bed. Victor returns home to his father who dies shortly after of grief. His family destroyed, Victor vows revenge and sets out to find the monster and destroy him.
Victor follows the monster to the far north and, in a dogsled chase, he finally closes up on it. But suddenly the sea beneath them moves and creates a break in the ice, separating Victor from his soul enemy and leaving him stranded on a piece of ice. This is when Victor is picked up by Robert and his tale ends here.

Robert finishes the remainder of Victor`s tale in another set of letters to his sister. Victor never fully recovers and dies shortly after telling the whole story. Robert, sad of his new-found friend`s death, visits the room where the body lies; whereafter he is utterly surprised to find the monster crying over Victor`s dead body. The monster tells Robert of his immeasurable loneliness, suffering, hatred, and sorrow towards his creator and all man-kind who shunned him. Now that Victor is dead, the monster claims that, he too, can end his wretched existence. Upon saying this, the monster leaves to die on the cold ice of the North.

b-constable.jpgSign of Times:
Mary Shelley lived and wrote her novel Frankenstein during the Romantic era of literature. The Romantic era, or Romanticism was "an artistic and intellectual movement originating in Europe in the late 18th century and characterized by a heightened interest in nature, emphasis on the individual's expression of emotion and imagination, departure from the attitudes and forms of classicism, and rebellion against established social rules and conventions. It celebrated nature rather than civilization." The painting on the right is done by a famous Romanticist, John Constable. As one can observe, the natural part of the painting is stressed much more than the figure of the person in the back.
Frankenstein indeed reflects the "requirements" of Romanticism. A significant aspect of the story is that the characters show and express a lot of emotion such as sorrow, love, guilt, and anger. For example, "''Abhorred monster! fiend that thou art! the tortures of hell are too mild a vengeance for thy crimes... come on, then, that I may extinguish the spark which I so negligently bestowed."
Another point to be made is that the story has a lot of basis on the natural world. First of all, Mary Shelley sets the story among the beautiful mountains of Switzerland where she had begun to write the book. At that time, Mary and Percy were visiting Lord Byron, a poet who was living close to Lake Geneva in the rented Villa Diodati. Together with Byron's young physician, John Polidori, the four spent their time reading, writing, boating on the lake, and talking late into the night. Among other topics, the four talked about the natural philosopher Erasmus Darwin and how it was said that he had, out of dead matter, returned a corpse back to life. This was most likely a huge influence to the story of
Frankenstein. Another factor might have been that the four spent time amusing themselves with German ghost stories; and Byron suggested that they each create their own. It was only shortly afterwards that Mary had a dream about, " the pale student... kneeling beside the thing he had put together... the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out..." which helped her devise Frankenstein into the story it is today.


Connection Corner:
beauty_and_beast9.jpgBeauty and the Beast:
Once upon a time, there was a merchant who had lost all his wealth. He moved out of his rich mansion and lived with his three daughters in a little house out in the country. The two elder daughters did nothing but complain while the youngest, whose name was Belle, merrily looked after the house and helped her father tend to his vegetable garden.
One day her father received a message to go to the city on business. Hopeful for renewed wealth, he asks his daughters what they want as a gift when he returns. The elder daughters ask for riches but Belle only wishes for a rose. Determined, the merchant sets out but gets lost in a forest. Seeking shelter, he enters a palace. The palace is seemingly empty, yet the table is laden with food and the bed is readily made. Unable to believe his luck, the merchant eats his fill and sleeps in the grand bed. The next morning he wakes to find a new suit in place of his own and breakfast on the table. After having dressed and eaten, he comes upon a rose garden where he remembers Belle`s gift. Just as he was about to pick one, a hideous beast appears and says, "I gave you food, and a bed, and new clothes. Now you steal my roses as well! For that you shall die!". The merchant begs for mercy and explains that the rose was meant for his beloved daughter. In hearing that, the beast agrees to let the merchant go in return for this daughter. Upset, yet terrified, the merchant agrees and sets his way towards home.
Belle willingly goes to the palace where the beast receives her graciously and treats her kindly. Yet she eventually gets homesick and asks for permission to return home. The Beast reluctantly agrees and lets her go on her promise that she return as soon as possible. Belle receives an enchanted mirror and a magic ring from the Beast and sets her course towards her home. The weeks past swiftly when one night, Belle dreams of the Beast who is lying in the rose garden, weak and ill. Using the enchanted ring, Belle swiftly returns to the Beast`s side and cries, "Dear Beast, don't die. I do love you, and I will marry you!". Suddenly a bright light surrounds the Beast, who transformed into a handsome young prince. Yes, Belle has broken the spell when she said she loved him. And so, Belle and the prince lived happily ever after.
Like this story?
There are many versions of The Beauty and the Beast
and I`m sure everybody knows at least one version of this tale. There is of coarse, the disney-version of this and also numerous children books and movies based on this story. There are even musicals on broadway! Check 'em out on the internet or go to the video shop and watch!


Phantom of the Opera:las-vegas-shows-phantom-of-the-opera.jpg
It was a long-time legend that there had been a ghost haunting the Paris Opera of 1881. Deep down in the underground lakes of the cellar of the Garnier Opera house is where they say he lived. But the Opera Ghost is actually a hideously deformed musical genius by the name of Erik. He makes a deal that if he gets a monthly salary of 20,000 francs and an always-reserved seat in Box Five, then he would not play any of his deathly pranks. This promise remains unbroken until two men, Armand and Firmin take over the opera house and neglect the promise, seeing it only as a silly antic to get them scared.
In the meantime, Erik takes in a protege, a beautiful girl named Christine Daee. Christine, thinking that Erik was the " Angel of Music" sent from her dead father, becomes Erik's pupil and has voice lessons with him. When Carlotta, the prima donna of the opera house, falls ill one day, Christine replaces her and makes a stunning debut. But during her marvelous performance, Christine faints, which concerns her childhood sweetheart, Raul Vicomte de Chagny.
Erik, becomes terribly jealous of Raul and Christine's relationship and tries to pry her back by taking her down to his dark dominion. She learns that this masked menace is neither a ghost or an angel but just a normal man; brilliant, but bitter and pitiful. Too curious, she suddenly rips off his mask and beholds his deformed face. Horrified with what was seen, Erik screams and hides his face again. He wanted Christine to be his and love him and how could she, when she beheld his ugly face? So, he let her return to the light after he made her promise that she would return willingly from time to time and swear that she would love none other than himself. Christine keeps this promise but becomes afraid. She tells Raul and they decide to run away from Paris.

But Erik has eavesdropped, and on her final performance, he kidnaps her from the stage and drags her down to his underground home. Raul pursues Erik underground to go to Christine's aid but gets captured instead. Erik, enraged that Christine has broken the promise, threatens to destroy the opera house if she refuses to marry him. Poor Christine sadly accepts the marriage proposal.
Yet Christine shows Erik sympathy and kindness despite his rashness towards her. She even kisses him on the head to show that she loved him. This action stuns and confuses Erik, for never has he experienced that much happiness and love. In despair, he releases Christine and Raul and tells them to get married and live happily ever after. But before Christine leaves he gives her a golden ring as a wedding present. He tells her to come back one day and bury it with his dead body. Erik dies three weeks after Christine leaves. Yet right before his death, Erik expresses his immense grief, despair, gratitude, and love towards Christine, the only woman he ever loved and the only woman who ever loved him.
Like this story?
The Phantom of the Opera started from being an old legend to being published into a book, made into several musicals on broadway, and then finally made into a movie. You can borrow the movie from any local video shop (GEO is good) or you can come to me because I have the DVD. But if you'd like to buy the movie, then I suggest this web site: http://www.amazon.com/ref=br_ss_null(search (search for The Phantom of the Opera DVD) If you'd like to purchase the tickets for the musical, go to this site: http://www.thephantomoftheopera.com/ (I think the japanese version of the musical is at Osaka). The actual novel was written by Gaston Leroux and you can buy the book at: amazon.com

The Hunchback of Notre Dame:hunchback_of_notre_dame.jpg
It is morning in Paris, and the city awakes to the bells of Notre Dame. In the city square, Clopin and his audience of little children listen to the mighty gongs issuing from the magnificent towers of the Cathedral. Clopin then tells the tale of the mysterious bell ringer, "a tale of a man... and a monster"; whereafter he poses a riddle to the children, " Can you guess who is the monster and who is the man?"
20 years ago in the dark of the night, a gypsy family slipped silently under the docks of Notre Dame. But they were captured by Judge Claude Frollo who arrested the them. He spotted the woman carrying for what he mistook to be a bundle of stolen goods. She ran but was overtaken by Frollo. They struggled and the woman fell, struck her head on the stone steps of the cathedral and died. Frollo looked into the bundle to find, not stolen goods, but a hideously misshapen baby! He tries to drown the baby in a nearby well when the Archdeacon stops and urges Frollo to care for the baby. Frollo agrees to the baby being kept in the church, hidden from all eyes. He names the baby Quasimodo and that is how the bell towers find their bell ringer.It is the day of the Feast of Fools. Quasimodo stares sadly at the city below. But for once he is convinced to go to the Feast, despite his master's (Frollo), warning about the cruelty of the outside world. While a contest was held for the ugliest-masked person, the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda spots Quasimodo and pulls him onto the stage. Though the crowd was horrified that Quasimodo's face was not a mask, they made him the King of Fools. Yet things got out of hand and Quasimodo was humiliated and hurt by the crowd. A short while after, Esmeralda gets trapped in the Cathedral by Frollo. She sees Quasimodo and apologizes for what happened that day at the Feast and becomes friends with him. Quasimodo helps Esmeralda escape from the Cathedral to the gypsy hideout called the Court of Miracles. When Frollo finds out that Esmeralda had escaped, he searches everywhere and burns half of Paris in the process!
When Phoebus, Frollo's new Captain of the Gaurd, sees Frollo's maddening search for Esmeralda, he immediately disobeys Frollo and rescues a family of millers who had been hospitable to some gypsies. Phoebus is sentenced to death by Frollo yet manages to escape. But as he flees, he was wounded by an arrow in which Esmeralda rescues and brings him to the bell tower for Quasimodo's help.Frollo sniffed out Quasimodo's secret and found out that he had helped Esmeralda escape. He threatened Quasimodo that with a thousand men he would find and destroy the Court of Miracles. Quasimodo and Phoebus immediately set out for the Court of Miracles where they warn the gypsies of their danger. But they are too late. Only moments later, Frollo appears with his thousand men and captures everybody. Esmeralda is tied to the stake and is about to be burned alive when Quasimodo comes and rescues her. From here, the gypsies and the citizens of Paris burst in rage at Frollo's cruelty and begin their revolt.
Frantically Frollo tries to kill Esmeralda but is stopped by Quasimodo. In the end Frollo, too blind by his own greed, plummets from the top of the cathedral to the square below and dies. Morning comes and the chaos is ended. Quasimodo steps out into the light and for the first time everybody sees, not a monster in Quasimodo, but a hero! "Hip! Hip! Hooray!" they cried as they celebrated the hero of their city.

Like this story?
The Hunchback of Notre Dame comes in many different versions. But personally I like the disney-version because it has fantastic music and a good story-line. There is also a The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2, but I wouldn't recommend it too much. You can borrow the video/DVD in any local video store. Here's a web site for those who are too bothered to walk all the way to the video shop: https://disneymovieclub.go.com (then search for The Hunchback of Notre Dame [disney])There is also a movie besides the disney-version, an old film made in 1939 which probably won't be available in your local video store. Here`s a website where you can purchase the film: http://www.moviegoldmine.com/product_info.php/products_id/16655
Actually, The Hunchback of Notre Dame was also originally a novel written by... guess who? Victor Hugo!! You can purchase the novel at:
http://www.amazon.com/Hunchback-Notre-Dame-Tor-Classics/dp0812563123

Personal Review:
I started reading Frankenstein in the...... somewhat later part of winter break. At first I wasn't that enthusiastic. I've never seen the Frankenstein movies (because I really hate horror movies) and there was no motive for me to read the book except that it was just an assignment from school and thus had to completed. I started with staring at the cover. "Big deal!" you might say, but to me it was a huge feat of courage. I didn't want to be reminded of homework at any cost. And here I was staring at the dreadful cover (and there`s nothing pleasant about a painting of a fainted-woman with a monster on top of her and the head of a demented horse staring at you) which was screaming the very words, "HOMEWORK!!!" to me. Anyway I opened the book reluctantly and started to read...
And was swept away into Robert, Victor, and the monster's world! What I loved about this novel was that it contained the voice of three different individuals. And what`s very good about
this is that your five senses work through three different people and your point of view about the matter of life, death, beauty and "monstery" becomes totally different.
Through Robert Walton`s voice, you can feel your blood boil in anticipation of what mysteries await to be solved in the far north and the curiosity when first meeting Victor.
Through Victor Frankenstein`s voice, you feel so much love showered from parents, friends, teachers, siblings, and such. Through his eyes you see the mighty faces of the mountains and through his ears you hear the waves whisper when lying down on a boat on the lake. Yet you also feel unlimited sorrow, guilt, fear, and anger towards the monster and yourself.
Through the monster's voice, you can feel the loneliness like a sharp knife and a tremendous want for love and a companion. The harshness of hunger and the cold and the deep plunge of sleep. Anger and hate towards human-kind who made him an outcast for what he was. Yet there is also strong love for the gentle cottagers and guilt and sorrow in his creator`s death.
Another thing I really thought was bamboozling in this story was that it was very eloquent. It is quite obvious that Mary Shelley was well stocked with vocabulary words. And because of this, all of her characters have a sense of "sophisticatedness" when they speak. In addition to that, using a well-stocked amount of words helps express the feelings of the characters far more elaborately than having just a little stock of words.
I also enjoyed reading about the beautiful natural magnificence of Mary`s setting of the book. I've never been any other part of the world except for Singapore and Japan. And none of these two countries are quite like Europe, or Switzerland to be precise. Oh, if I could go and see the great face of Mont Blanc! But when you read the book, you really see the mighty mountain standing in front of you! Now that is only what a truly good book can do to you.
The difficult part of this novel is the vocabulary. As I've mentioned before, Mary Shelley used quite a lot of sophisticated vocabulary that I don`t usually use in my everyday life. Already from the first few chapters I obtain a page worth of words that I didn't know. But if you want a tough and my-vocabulary-will-improve book to read, then Frankenstein is just the book for you!Anyway, this is the picture that I thought had a metaphorical significance and a symbolic link to the story:loneliness3.jpgThis is a picture of an abandoned road. With bare trees surrounding this seemingly never-ending forlorn path, it had reminded me of one of the themes in the novel, loneliness. I chose this piece because it really symbolizes the monster of Frankenstein`s creation. The monster has to live and travel alone without any friend or companion for as long as he exists. The road and the desolate of the atmosphere of the picture is a perfect symbol of this.However, the drawing below is the exact opposite of the photo on the right:calvin.jpgCalvin and Hobbes are, in my opinion, the best model of the exact opposite of loneliness; in other words, togetherness! The monster was enraged at Victor because Victor had everything that the monster didn't. Family, friends, a companion, etc. Victor was loved by many people while the monster was hated by everyone, including his creator. Imagine the pain and agony the monster experienced!
Another theme that is very significant in this story is life and death. Victor defied the "rules" and brought the dead back to life. This is a quote from the movie, Jurassic Park
" God creates dinosaurs. God destroys dinosaurs. God creates man. Man destroys God. Man creates dinosaurs..."// In this case though, the man would be Victor Frankenstein and the dinosaur would be the monster. You get the idea, I hope.Messing around with something so vast and powerful as life is very dangerous. Frankenstein is just one example of this. As I mentioned in Mary`s biography, the duration in which she wrote this story was an exceptionally hard one for her. A lot of close and loved people died and perhaps it is because she felt powerless besides the great hammer of death that she decided to write this story; the moral being that life can not be controlled by the hands of men.
So, how do you like it? Just for my conclusion, I'd like to say that Frankenstein was and excellent book to read. You can tell that it`s good because practically everybody recognizes the name and it`s still being read and appreciated today! The story has been made into several movies (I believe it was more than 50 or so) over the ages and even though the story-line might not be exactly the same, I think Mary Shelley would have been proud of herself if she were still alive. Though I did struggle with the vast amount of vocabulary words, it`s been a really good "brain-stimulizer" during the holidays. So, what do you say? Can`t wait to get your hands on the book, right?