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Week 12--Reading Frankenstein

Anne Dalke's picture
This week we'll be reading Mary Shelley's novel Frankenstein, and we can bring to bear on that reading all the lenses we've accumulated by working together throughout the semester. Post here your reactions to  the novel, along with any particular thoughts you might have about what kind of story it is: fairy tale? memoir? scientific story? anthropology or ethnography? a conscious or unconscious tale? about an abling or disabling culture?
Hyperpuffball's picture


Our class discussion on responsibility made me rethink why I am a chemistry major and why I wish to find a job researching science.

Before reading Frankenstein, if someone had asked me why I wished to be a research scientist, I would have sited money and general personal interest as reasons.

After digesting this horror story, I find that I did not know my own motivations. I wish to be able to help those who cannot help themselves through my research- to find answers to immunological and biochemical questions that allow for healing and aid for those who need it.

Frankenstein scared the living daylights out of me: what would I do if my research ends up becoming used to hurt people, instead of heal? Would I be able to take responsibility for my research, however inanimate it may be? Will I be able to think far enough ahead to see for what I might need to take responsibility?

When researchers publish work, they take responsibility for its efficacy and the ethics concerned with producing the work. As a published author of research, I know that I will be held responsible if it is found that someone I worked with fugded numbers or mistreated the rabbits we worked with. I will have the black mark on my record, I will be the person facing the ethics board, not the person who messed up.

This also means that any major new ideas brought to light by my research will be credited to me, and not those working with me whose names were not on the co-author list.

But how far can we stretch this responsibility? Am I responsible if someone else finds that millions of people can be killed with a drug that was found based off of my research? It was my original research, but they were the ones who decided to use it to hurt people.

I now find myself having nightmarish day dreams about a friend, a coworker, a fellow researcher using my ideas to hurt people who I intended to help.

Will it be my intention or the result that is remembered?

Hilary McGowan's picture

sorry I messed up and posted

sorry I messed up and posted twice...
Hilary McGowan's picture

Frankenstein and society

I had already read Frankenstein in High School for pleasure, and came into rereading the story with a prediposition to feel certain ways towards the plot and the characters. Although I did end up feeling the same way towards the characters like feeling empathy for the monster and anger with Frankenstein, I felt the reasoning was a bit different in this case. No longer was I just imagining how the character felt, but really truly reflected on the culture and societies school of thought around them.

Now, I have a perspective of ascertaining the real perspective between the monsters own struggles in finding a place in society with the search to find the inert struggles of society. Maybe not accepting everyone is a pinnacle point in the creation of a society, and although it is painful to some, it is inevitable. But that brings the whole issue up of whether or not society can ever be utopian, because would it still count as a society?

calypsse's picture

I forgot to post last

I forgot to post last week.... I know I'm a bad student.... 

 As I started the book I found a strong relation with Victor and his hunger for knowledge, we actually got to discuss this in class, how this becomes a driving force through our lives, that need for a particular satisfaction, and once it is fulfilled (if ever) it is not exciting anymore, and loses its importance. In the same way, once Victor accomplished his goal (to give life to dead matter) then there was nothing more to do, he never contemplated a next step, what if.. at the same time I don't understand why would he run away, if he knew all along how the monster looked and he probably must have imagined at one point how the "monster" might look like in full motion... then what was all the fuss about? I guess if I had work so hard in that monster, I would be adrenalized the moment it came up to life. I can only imagine myself laughing like a maniac (not like in the movies) and maybe even hug the "monster" just because I AM HIS CREATOR!! It's a good thing I'm not a scientist then. But then as the book progressed, I also felt a great empathy for the "monster," the feeling of rejection and abandonment. the longing for something impossible. 

most of the discussion we had was about the irresponsable behavior of the scientist and Shelley's warning to science and parenting. It's amazing how today this warning is more latent than ever, with science and technology racing towards the future.


ashaffer's picture

Looking in the Mirror

One of the many thoughts that popped into my head while reading this book was in regards to Frankenstein (the monster) and his first encounter of his physical appearance and his comparison with the people he had seen. The monster observed the people and made a judgement that they were pretty. (Where did that judgement come from? Was his unconscious just drawn to something like how the people looked, or is it just b/c they were the only thing he had really ever seen? This begs the question of whether the people who had rejected him in the past also appeared beautiful to him. Perhaps these people looked pretty @ first glance because they hadn't mistreated him (yet).)

So, Frankenstein learns the standard, the status quo, the type of appearance that is "normal", "beautiful"; he then sees himself, sees that he doesn't match up/look the same, and decides that he must be ugly and that is the reason everyone has been mean to him thus far. I would have loved to hear Frankenstein's thoughts about how he looked before he saw the humans and adopted their cultural understanding of pleasing aesthetics. Would he have merely regarded himself neutrally and dispassionately as an observor? Would he have thought he was the most beautiful thing, and wonderfully proportioned, etc? Would he have thought (compared to other things he saw in nature) that he wasnt very attractive? Hmmm. Some interesting thoughts to ponder.

Anne Dalke's picture

responsibility, abandonment and death

Katie Baratz (a recent Haverford grad who has shown up in this course before) sent me a link to an article that appeared in the NYTimes Magazine last week about euthanasia.

It's of particular relevance to, and an interesting extension of, BriBell's account of our recent discussions about responsibility, abandonment, and the inevitability of death in Frankenstein. The essay suggests that women, who have conventionally been caretakers, might be especially likely to request assisted death, when they become so disabled that they are the ones who must be cared for. The article also observes that many of the disabled are "self-oppressed"; that "people with disabilities will think, 'I should give up, die, disappear for everyone else.'"

The essay ends with two (I think contradictory?) claims: that, on the one hand, being spared "protracted and harrowing intimacy with degeneration and death...would be our loss"; and, on the other hand, that having "the power to escape" might be worth more than...
BriBell's picture

Class Summary

I honestly don't know how to begin summarizing our class discussion of the book Frankenstein. In these past two class sessions we discussed so many concepts/ theories/ ideas about what exactly is going on in Frankenstein, that I overwhelmed and even more confused than when I attempted to dissect the text in my own mind. For instance, the definition of 'responsibility' is entirely lost to me, and probably to the rest of the class as well. Our conversation was heavy with questions which seemed to lead us around in circles.

In the first class, we began by giving Frankenstein's 'monster' a name, because we did not believe it was really correct to call him a monster... so, we called him Pierre. And since the name Frankenstein is often confused with the image of the 'monster' he created, we decided to go by the first name basis and call him Victor. Victor, as creater of Pierre, can also be seen as his mother (which I will get back to later). We focused mostly, in this first class, on monstrousness-- what made Pierre a monster? Ugliness? Everyone that saw him cringed away -- he was hideous and this repelled people. Is this repulsion toward the ugly something that is innate in humans, or is it imbued in us through culture? Someone suggested that perhaps it is something we feel naturally, maybe due to reproductive priorities.

We went on to examine the monstrous qualities of Victor -- he was, perhaps, more monstrous than Pierre in that he was so single minded and self absorbed -- he grew feverish and pale, became a recluse and ignored much of his familial duties. Was this part of Shelly's message -- That ambition with ruin you? “If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and destroy your taste for simple pleasures…then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind.” (40). We also noted the idea that in some ways this story can be seen as a challenge to the notion of original sin (Pierre was good – then became cruel only after he was mistreated) – noble savage, man is naturally good. These ideas are contrary to Bettleheim’s belief that evil feelings are natural & human.

In the second class, we focused mainly on the dilemma of limits… this is where my head begins to spin. When can there be too much knowledge? (again, possibly a commentary against the ideas of Galileo and Flatland where the pursuit of knowledge should be limitless). Fair enough. But the part that really got me in our discussion was the challenge to responsibility. How responsible was Victor for the actions of Pierre? Was Shelly trying to say that he shouldn’t have created the monster in the first place, or that he should have taken responsibility over his creation to keep it from getting out of hand? Where does the responsibility end? So he created Pierre, how much can you say he is responsible for his actions after that – especially in the context of motherhood? We really lost the definition of responsibility I this conversation….

The topic of responsibility came up over and over again, but we eventually moved on to the notion of abandonment. This was meant to be a horror story after all, and everybody dies – leaving the reader feeling abandoned. Not to mention Victor leaves his family, Pierre is abandoned immediately, Walton is wishing for a friend while writing to the sister who he has, himself, abandoned. The center of the story is in the education of Safie, who was abandoned by her native land and then abandons her father. – perhaps this is a horror story about in inevitability of being alone…

Man, we really talked about a lot in these two days. We also talked about the gothic style writing and the tendency to have doubles – Was Pierre really just a double of Victor? How separate were they really? Rachael pointed out that nearly every time Victor sees Pierre, it is in a window of some sort. Both are monstrous in their own ways, and not too different from one another…

I feel that I have gone into way to much detail about what we discussed, but honestly I have barely skimmed the surface of the theories we explored. Even so, I feel unsatisfied, frustrated even, with the incompleteness of our conversation. There is so much more to be said about this book – so many ways in which it deals with the unconscious, so many more ambiguities to explore. This section of discussions was…intense, to say the least. I’m still lost, still troubled by the happenings of Shelly’s story. But I guess I should be. It is, after all, a horror story.

Student 23's picture

...And everybody dies!

Many of the books I love have in common one thing: at the end, everbody dies. So, accordingly, Frankenstein has moved onto my favorites list.

But more importantly and more interestingly, Frankenstein's structure, like an onion (or a parfait, hehe), allows for the outermost layer of the story, the true narrator, to be the survivor. As with much literature, the single survivor is perhaps the most integral part of a narrative, because he or she is the one that tells us the story.

I guess these characters serve as "insertion points" for the reader, by which we can fill the story with our own life experiences and thereby make sense of them. Pardon the Freudness in my following analogy: can we think of such characters as vaginas? By way of them, we enter the story and "impregnate" it with meaning, and a bit later, out pops an interpretation. Margaret, as well as Ishmael, Horatio, and Mr. Square, etc.-- all of them are like vaginas.

I'm not quite sure how people are going to read that analogy. I don't quite subscribe to it completely myself, and I'm even a little araid of it, but I thought it was interesting!

anonstudent01's picture


When I hear the name "Frankenstein" I immediately think of a large man with green-tinged skin, bloodshot eyes and bolts in his neck. This Frankenstein shows up by the hundreds on Halloween each year. Or I think of the PBS show Wishbone and the episode where Shelley's Frankenstein was brought to life (Wishbone the dog played Dr. Frankenstein). Both are rather playful renditions of the deeply moving human story that is Shelley's novel. I think the popularized image of the "monster" discount the author's brilliance and the powerful message behind the story.

I greatly enjoyed this book. Every person has a hunger of sorts in them to create something entirely new or push the boundaries within their chosen field. Dr. Frankenstein was a scientist who applied his entire education (some of it misinformed) to what he thought was a necessary breakthrough and worthwhile achievement for chemistry and all of the sciences. It raises the question of whether or not it is ever permissible to play God, no matter how noble the cause may seem.

The monster is the most puzzling and emotionally riveting character, you pity him then empathize with him and over the course of time in spite of his wrongs come to root for him. His humanity is the most richly developed and yet it is understood that he is technically the least human character in the book. His comprehension of human value should inform our own. 

Paul Grobstein's picture


Tuesday's class discussion on anthropology triggered some thoughts. Maybe relevant for thinking about Frankenstein as well?
merry2e's picture

Second post on Frankenstein

I keep wondering while reading the book if Victor is merely in a state of delusion? If he is hallucinating and whether he is merely what society would deem as "mentally ill" the whole time and he is actually the one who did the killings? Just a thought I had...I'm obsessed at times...and still have about 40 pages to go...
akeefe's picture

I am, I am, I am...

I had never read Frankenstein, though I’d owned it for several years. It was always on my shelf, and I said I’ll get there eventually. It was on my booklist for the summers, and even on a course syllabus, that ended up being altered. Now that I’ve finished, Frankenstein is one of my favorite books!

I supposed what drew me into this book was the identification I had with several of its lead characters. I am part Dr. Frankenstein. I know what it is to become obsessive, to take great pleasure in ruminating over an idea. Sometimes the musing even out weighs the goal. I am part Henry Clerval. I almost always identify with the side kicks, because I was one for a long time. His struggle for independence trumps that of Frankenstein, and I’ll admit to some very genuine remorse upon his death. I am also the creature, or as we’ve been calling him Pier. I’ve been outcasted, but who hasn’t really. I think more than anything else, his struggle for humanity, to understand it and embody it, was the most touching.

Am I selfish for wanting to detach from my home a bit in order to find myself? I am I wrong to not be satisfied with mediocrity in my life? Is it okay that despite my own humanity, I struggle with it’s definition? Should I be scared that my NF could be passed on to my children, and if the man is right, make the case far worse than what I have now? Should I be afraid to love because I could create what others might find monstrous? I suppose I am not others.

Allison Fink's picture

Madness in Frankenstein

What a horrible story. It was so sad how one by one, practically all of his family and friends were murdered. Who could have known that all this would come out of an experiment that you never should have done, your dirty (literally) secret that comes back to haunt you. I can appreciate the horror of this situation.   

I wonder why everyone always has to die (the main characters, I mean). It’s kind of ridiculous to think about it. The characters were constantly complaining about how miserable they were, and it took up a great part of the book. I think the book could definitely have been condensed.  I thought it was much more interesting at the beginning when it talked about Frankenstein’s madness that led him to obsessively work on creating life. He knew it was filthy work and somehow immoral, but he did it anyway because he was so wrapped up in the idea. That seems strange to me. Why did he do it if he knew he was touching dead body parts and disturbing people’s graves? He grew thin and pale while he was working on the project. Also, he felt that he could not be with his family while he was doing such work, because he could not enjoy being with them if he knew that he had that to worry about. The author seems to be trying to show that because of his work he was out of balance with day to day living, and that these kinds of ambitious pursuits that make the mind overexcited are bad for the health, like a disease, and should be avoided.

jforde's picture

life and death

The life and death theme was really interesting throughout the novel. Although they are polar opposites, one cannot exist without the other. This theme kept reoccurring and showed a ying yang like relationship between the two. Once Frankenstein discovered the secret to creating life, other parts of his life began to die such as family members and loved ones. While the monster was gaining more control and accustomed to the new world, Frankenstein’s life was deteriorating to the point where he began to change. This made me think about how technology disrupts the ecosystem. Global warming has been fueled by technology from automobiles.

Reading this novel made me think about cloning. Today scientists are pursuing technology such as stem cell research and cloning animals with the hopes of cloning body parts of humans. In addition, computer scientists are pursuing artificial intelligence with the hopes of creating robots that can help and coexist with humans. However, similar to how George Orwell foresaw communism, is Mary Shelley predicting an era of humans and cloned beings inhabiting the earth? If so, will the result of clones and AI be the same as that of Frankenstein’s creation?

Allyson's picture

Shelley’s Frankenstein

Shelley’s Frankenstein calls many aspects of our class into my mind. First, I think of fairytales and how the characters are typically archetypes of the human condition. And indeed the characters of Frankenstein and his monster were all too human in this way. It would even seem that Shelley was trying extremely hard to make her characters augment these characteristics to the point of making them one dimensional. As a result of this, Shelley’s main characters are much more likely to be disliked by the reader, bringing him or her to the realization of just how detestable the human race can be.


There also seems to be an idea within this work that not matter what your circumstances in life, whether you are a creator or the created, the enemy or the victim, you are ultimately responsible for yourself and the knowledge you have acquired along your life’s journey. Unfortunately, both Frankenstein and his creation are not very good at that. Perhaps it was the zeal of the unconscious mind that dooms them. A question for the class: were Frankenstein and his monster too conscious or too unconscious?

christa wusinich's picture


Several of the characters in M.Shelley’s Frankenstein are driven. They are driven to affliction and afflicted by their longings to achieve something greater than the extent of their human frames and presupposed limitations. What drives these men (for it is the men who are the reckless in this tale and the women who are the balancing, steadying hands of love and compassion)? Robert Walton, casts his net into dark icy waters and emerges with an abysmal tale brought to him by the man who lived it, Frankenstein. Perhaps, the albatross Walton did not seek came to him after all as Frankenstein? Frankenstein’s albatross was naturally the unnatural beast of his own creation. Walton writes to his sister; “I voluntarily endured cold, famine, thirst, and want of sleep”(3). What compels Walton to leave the companionship that he knows and rush forth into harms way? He answers this question in his letters without providing a certain understanding that would justify the dangers he endures. He talks of his childhood fancy with tales of discovery, of his fathers dying wish that his son shall not be a seafaring man (the lure of the forbidden), of the want of a steady goal, of want to be an original and “tread a land never before imprinted by the foot of man”(2), and of glory and dreams. Is this an intoxication of youth? Surely, an old man would know better…but only because he to was a young man once. Henry Clerval determined for himself the liberal education that his father discouraged; it is said of Henry that, “He loved enterprise, hardship, and even danger for its own sake”(23). Then, of course, the worst of the lot is Frankenstein. His curiosity began as an interest in the causes of things. Frankenstein says, “It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn”(23). Madly he went about building his tower of Babel and tragically he expired after all that held him up crumbled beneath him. Still Walton calls Frankenstein “noble and godlike in ruin”(194)! Why do we so often cause our own destruction? This behavior does not resonate with anything Darwinian. Why at our youngest and ablest do we lean towards self destruction and not self preservation? What does this say about humanity?
hannahpayne's picture

Ignorance is bliss...

            Like Antonia, I was struck by how the themes of the novel were similar to those we discussed earlier in the class. Shelley kept coming back to the idea that pushing science too far can have terrible consequences. She encourages stopping questioning and instead urges the reader to live an ignorant but happy life. A telling quote is, “How dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow.” This message is the complete opposite of the message that Galileo and Flatland upheld. From those two works we concluded that scientific exploration was necessary for any kind of improvement, even if it was a little scary or hard to convince people of its merits. In Frankenstein this kind of thinking is scorned. It’s a very difficult argument to pick sides on. I believe that exploration and experimentation is necessary for development but at the same time I can’t but help wondering what could happen with too many scientific advances. Look at the atomic bomb for example, science was used as a horribly destructive tool. But without science we would have no medicine, no technology, and life would be very difficult. I think maybe the solution is to have in place checks and balances that monitor scientific research. It seemed to be that Frankenstein’s downfall was that he did it all by himself, if he had talked to other people he would have realized that what he was doing was insane and very dangerous. Maybe through community and culture there can be never-ending questioning but with realistic limitations.


But the most amazing thing is that she was only nineteen when she wrote it… I have done nothing with my life. 

akerle's picture



My mother read Frankenstein to me when I was 6 years old. I remember drifting off quite often during the tale and understanding little of the tricky vocabulary. I remember two things about my conversations with my mother about Frankenstein.

First, it takes about 10 repetitions of a word for someone to KNOW what it means (she told me this when I apologized for stopping her all the time to explain things) and secondly, that we both felt bad for the monster.

Luckily, with the second reading, my vocabulary has improved but my feelings about Frankenstein's 'monster' haven't changed. I still empathise with him. In fact- I feel that his character is perhaps the most real of all those found within the book. I feel more for his predicament then I feel for the death of Frankensteins wife, brother and friends.

There is no doubt that the murders were terrible things- but I don't feel that Frankenstein's monster is a terrible person. In fact- I feel he is a symbol of all that it means to be human.

Really links to this idea of 'is it better to be happy and ignorant vs. unhappy and knowledgeable'. Frankenstein's monster hates his creator for bringing him into the world- for giving him KNOWLEDGE. Shelley argues in favour of ignorance....

ErinDoppelheuer's picture

can it be two?

I read Frankenstein in highschool and we only mainly talked about specific important quotes and the details behind the story.  We never discussed what type of story it really is.  I am wondering if this story could be a mixture of a scientific tale and a memoir.  The scientific part comes from Frankenstein in his lab to his final creation of the monster.  The memoir part comes from both Frankenstein and the monster.  Frankenstein pours his whole life story to Watson when upon his ship and the monster does the same to Watson when he finds Frankenstein dead in bed.  I found it moving and was strangly captivated by the monsters speach at the end to Watson.  I knew that the speach was coming so it kind of ruined it, but this time my eyes were glued to the page, reading every word with deep thought as if i had never read it before.  I was so captivated by the monsters speach that I forgot at some points that it was the monster even speaking.  I tried to hold back my feelings or sorrowness for the monster because of what he had done, but part of me did feel sad for him and the fact that he was created without a partner to love.
carterian's picture

Frankenstein from the Gothic Standpoint

I read Frankenstein in my gothic lit. class last week, so the ideas that were brought up in that class are still very fresh in my mind.

One of the Gothic tropes that is used in the book is the idea of "doubles." Doubles are encountered a lot in gothic novels, often times there are two women vying for the same man. Or when one woman dies, her lover will often end up with the woman that is earlier identified as the earlier woman's double. It's kind of complicated, it's hard to explain if you haven't read any truly gothic novels.

So, the idea of doubling and duality is brought up with Frankenstein and his creation, not by way of physical resemblance, but by how they are both presented. I did a post about this on the blackboard for my other class, so I will share it with you now...the page numbers will be different because I used a different book:

"Generally, when someone says that they are going to be Frankenstein for Halloween, they don't dress up as the actual character, but rather his creature. Mary Shelley's book initiates the blurring of the line between the scientist and the monster from the very beginning. We first see the monster as a "gigantic stature [who] sat on a sledge" (25). Frankenstein, the actual character was found in "a sledge, like that we had seen before" (26). After some convincing, he agreed to get on the boat. Once on the boat, however, he was unable to speak for a few days and it is noted that his "sufferings had deprived him of understanding" (27). Later in the paragraph he is referred to by the captain as an "interesting creature" and "his eyes expression of wildness...even madness" and "sometimes he gnashes his teeth " (27). These all embody characteristics of someone wild and subhuman. Once almost fully recovered, he "appears uneasy when anyone except [the captain] enters the cabin" (28). Later in the volume, when Frankenstein is visiting Justine and is torn up by the tragedy caused by his creation he "gnashed [his] teeth and ground them together, uttering a groan that came from [his] inmost soul" (89). Again, there is this animalistic tendency that he displays.

There is also a childishness shown in both characters. The monster at one point scares his creator in the middle of the night when "he muttered some inarticulate words, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks" (59). And when Frankenstein is on the boat with the captain he shows such changes in character. At one point he seems wild and at another "his whole countenance is lighted up...with a beam of...sweetness" (27). This childishness is well-used by Shelley in invoking terror for the reader. This seeming innocence just makes the acts displayed by characters that much worse. With these descriptions, the confusion between Frankenstein and his monster is an easy mistake."

  So, there is the small lesson in a gothic trope for anyone who was interested!

redmink's picture


         I watched a movie, Frankenstein, in high school.  Reading a book, I was able to fill the gaps from the movie.  First, I did not know Frankenstein Monster was first good-hearted.  I thought the created was cruel in the first place.   Also, I don't think there was a scene in which the monster observes cottagers.  Second, I thought Dr Frankenstein and his cousin were blood-related siblings in a movie.  But in a book, Dr's cousin was an adoptee.

         When the monster tells his story to the creator, Dr. Frankenstein, I was captivated.  I liked how the monster's memories are written in separate " " in a row without any interruption of Dr. Frankenstein's responses or questions.  These continues throughout several chapters.

         The book well conveys the monster's psychological transformation.  There's one paragraph that was striking to me.  It was said by Dr. Frankenstein:

"His words had a strange effect on me.... I compassionated him..., but when i looked upon him..., my feelings were altered to those fo horror and hatred."

          Reading this paragraph, I thought about people with advantages with good looks such as celebrities.  Their fans adore them.  On the other hand, people with physicial disabilities are easily prejudiced by other people.  Though the disabled have no intention to hurt other people, people in general prefer to avoiding sharing something with them.  Sometimes, young children call those, "wicked," etc.  The perception on us by others create our reaction and identities.  Other people's prejudice also creates a culture. 

          I sympathized with Frankenstein, and other people who are second, or third Frankenstein in this society.  When I was a little child, I indicated with my index finger at a dwarf who was in her thirties, i guess.  And I asked my mom why the woman was so short even though she was aged.  My mom blushed with embarrassment when the woman watched us, and hit me in the back.  "Be quiet..!"  She said.  The disabled (in a culture with my reaction and the woman) approached me and my mom and answered my question.  "Child, if you don't eat spinach or any other healthy food, you become like me.  So, eat all sorts of foods not only cookies, ok?"  Of course, the answer was not a maxim of relevance.  She broke her disabling culture by providing a warm-hearted feature of her to me.  My mom often tells this story to me who don't remember the detail.  We both feel grateful and inspiring still now.

merry2e's picture

Knowledge as Agony and despair (sorry for the pessimism, Audra!)

I came into reading Frankenstein with limited knowledge…I knew it to be a horror story about a monster who was created by a mad scientist…Frankenstein has fast become one of my favorite all time novels…not to mention, I bought the book on CD which gives it an added quality of eeriness. The book is nothing at all like I thought. Full of passion, love, adoration of life, beautiful descriptions of the people and places, full of scientific imagination, relational and psychological dilemmas, I felt lost in the book, as though I was a character…I even dreamt of Frankenstein last night.


So, my question, after reading (almost finished, not quite done) Frankenstein is… when do we know that we are in dangerous, murky territory by gaining too much knowledge and need to stop? Does there come a point when the more we know as human beings, the more destruction and death this knowledge will create or can we embrace this learning and use it to guide us to a more peaceful universe, world? We have the capability to keep people alive for years on life support, to determine whether a fetus is “viable” and we can choose whether we want a boy or girl child, with blonde hair, blue eyes, and an IQ of astronomical numbers (not too distant future, if not already)…we will be able to live to 150 years and beyond…when is knowledge too much?? And when do we just live for today?

On pages 40 (par.2) and 101(par. 2&3), both Frankenstein and his clone speak of this knowledge, and how, when their eyes opened to the knowledge they had, it brought both pain and agony to them. I feel similarly…but I continue to want to open my eyes to more and more and more and more….

calypsse's picture

I think it's more like... it

I think it's more like... it tries to keep people from hurting others unintentionally
Audra's picture

Very Short Post

I'm only on Chapter 5, but I wanted to post something I've been thinking about while reading Frankenstein before I forget.

The protagonist displays many of the symptoms of the condition American culture calls bipolar disorder: he works tirelessly on a fantastical project all day, but at night he's depressed. In this case, could culture-as-disability be a good thing? Does our culture keeping an eye on people with similar behavior prevent people from creating monsters in their appartments unchecked?

'Til next time,