Why is Frankenstein such a popular text?
Frankenstein is a science fiction novel written by Mary Shelley during
the time of the Romantic Movement. It has remained popular ever since
it was first published and still sells well today, with many reprints
of the book since the first edition.
One of the main characters of the story and probably the most
(in)famous, Frankenstein's monster, has become an icon of all that is
monstrous and wrong. The story has been adapted and interpreted many
times all in different ways, causing the monster and the stereotypical
view of him to become intertextual. The most popular and well
recognised representation of the monster and the one that most ...view middle of the document...
Frankenstein is popular for a number of reasons. The most prominent I
believe is the fact that it was the first type of story of its kind,
and what is now referred to as sci-fi, short for science fiction. Some
people also claim it to be a horror novel, due to the monster and his
hideous creation, but it is generally classified as science fiction.
Science fiction works are based loosely on actual scientific
principals and discoveries. For example, Mary Shelley had seen
experiments where electricity was passed through dead creatures and
they twitched slightly. This was the starting point of Frankenstein
and the first time a text of this nature had been written. It
single-handedly created a whole new genre for writers to discover. She
wrote the story as the result of a challenge that was set to her, her
husband and a group of their friends. The challenge was to write the
most terrifying story that they could, and the scariest would be the
The story predicts the future uses of man's ever growing scientific
knowledge, to further preserve life and, in the most extreme cases,
actually create new life artificially. It tells the tale of
Frankenstein's experiments and his eventual success in creating a new
human man from the body parts of other dead people. The new human,
however, becomes a "monster", killing the innocent in his search for
understanding. The resulting situations and moral debates are ones
that are still under scrutiny today, as the technology that Mary
Shelley wrote of is approaching fast.
Mary Shelley sub-titled her book "The Modern Prometheus". Prometheus
was a Greek demi-god who, according to legend, granted man the gift of
fire. I think it is a very apt likening as the ability to raise the
dead would cause much the same benefits and problems on such grand
scales as fire has done. Frankenstein was essentially like Prometheus
in this sense. Neither Frankenstein nor Prometheus wanted to cause
pain or suffering but did so indirectly.
The characters that Mary Shelley created for her story are one of the
reasons why it is so popular. Their personalities, views on
Frankenstein's work and evolving attitudes give rise to interesting
and thought provoking scenarios throughout the story. They are
detailed and well-documented characters and Mary Shelley describes and
animates them very well.
Frankenstein's monster is a very odd character. The reader is made to
pity and hate him at different points throughout the story. At birth
he is ridiculed and shunned away, which leads him to murdering
innocent people in his attempts to understand what he is and how he
should exist. He is not naturally a bad person, it is his surroundings
and experiences that mould him into what he is and drives him to seek
revenge on those who had treated him so badly, in whatever ways he
could. By the standards of the author's time, the reactions of those
who came into contact with the monster would be...