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“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley: Bloodless Heart

Updated: Dec 13, 2022

Malcolm Streitfeld

Anchor Staff Writer

Image via Caio/Pexels

Conflict and cooperation, kindness and cruelty, love and hatred – the paradoxical coexistence of these opposites has defined our species since the very beginning. Humans refrain from staring their monsters in the eyes, but when they finally do, the creature stares back. Nowhere is this more clear than in “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus,” a novel written by Mary Shelley.

This poignant tragedy begins with a sea captain named Robert Walton. During a voyage through Arctic waters, and after sighting a mysterious humanoid figure dog-sledding across the ice floes, Walton rescues a man, saving him from certain death in the process. The man introduces himself as Victor Frankenstein and begins to tell his story, bringing us to the next layer of this Matryoshka doll of a narrative.

Frankenstein recounts how he was born in Italy to two wealthy Swiss parents, along with his brothers, Ernest and William, and adopted sister Elizabeth. He spent most of his childhood in Naples, playing with his best friend Henry Clerval. It is science that most holds Frankenstein’s interest however. This curiosity soon gives birth to a terrifyingly ambitious beast of a dream; conquering death itself. Tragically, when Frankenstein eventually leaves home, bound for a German university, this desire remains steadfast in his mind. As Frankenstein will soon discover, pride is a fool’s gambit. Nature is not mankind’s to tamper with.

As someone diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome at an early age, I have trouble understanding the world around me. Social norms that for most would be common knowledge are for me completely foreign concepts that I had to learn about over time and am still working to comprehend even now. What does this have to do with “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus?” Well, through reading this book, I have come to better familiarize myself with the minds of other people. This knowledge in turn, will heavily aid in my self-improvement.

“Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” is not just the deeply personal tale of Frankenstein, it is a broader exploration of the flaws inherent to the human psyche and the cautionary lessons that can be learned from them. We cannot reject and ostracize those in the world who are different from us, whether they’ve been diagnosed with autism, attention-deficit-disorder or another medical condition. We must instead, love and accept them for who they are, regardless of how they look, act or think. But to say any more would be completely spoiling this masterpiece of a science-fiction novel. To truly understand what I’m getting at, you’d need to read the book itself.

One last thing I’ll mention is that in the versions of this story that were published after the original 1818 edition, certain changes were made to Frankenstein’s personality. How you view his character depends heavily on if you’re reading the original or a reprint. But whether it's the former or the latter, “Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus” is an extraordinary read that I’d recommend to just about anyone. Go pick up a copy today, come face to face with your own inner demons and make sure to give them all big warm hugs.


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