It’s October … the month of ghosts and goblins, vampires and werewolves. On Halloween night, we are bound to see terrors of all types walking around neighborhoods from door to door on a quest to fill buckets and bags with candy and treats. There are spooky costumes galore, but most can not live up to the reputation of the classics. A few monsters are considered horror royalty and one, bigger than the rest, is Frankenstein’s monster.
Considered by some to be the first “science fiction” story, Frankenstein: Or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley was written and published anonymously in 1818 (she was credited as author in the second edition published in 1821). The story itself was born two years prior in 1816, during a late night together with future husband and author Percy Bysshe Shelley, and friend and poet Lord Byron. The three concocted a competition to see who could write the best horror story. Shelley imagined a story about a scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who created life but was then horrified by what he made. To say that she won the competition would be an understatement.
As soon as it was published, the story captured the populace and has become legendary. It has been adapted for the stage, silver screen, television and beyond. When mentioned, most remember the monster as he was portrayed by Boris Karloff in numerous features, or as “Herman Munster” humorously portrayed by Fred Gwynne. As the media grew, the tale became more muddled, with liberties taken by each production. (For example, Victor Frankenstein never yells “It’s alive!” in the novel; rather, as soon as the monster opens its eyes, he runs away and hides from his creation.)
Frankenstein is not so much a story of terror as it is one of acceptance. The monster thinks and emotes as a human, but turns upon the rest of the world after he is shunned because of his frightening appearance and origin.
How many “monsters” are created in this world out of bigotry and shallow differences?
Keep an open heart … and have a Happy Halloween!
“My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture such as you cannot even imagine.” – The Monster, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein.