Frankenstein: a recap

Frankenstein
“It made me use my brain” -Kyndra

I always look forward to book club night!
Thursday night did not disappoint!

My sister and I showed up at the same time…
wearing the same cardigan.
It happens. 🙂

Paradise chai: kept my fingers warm and my tummy happy!

Our conversation covered everything from Frankenstein to Twilight, believe it or not! We even touched on Little Mermaid somewhere in the middle!

There also may or may not have been some singing of “Monster Mash” sometime throughout the evening.

Here are some notes I jotted down while we chatted:

~We would have loved to see how the monster spied on the family of peasants for so long without being noticed! (Personally this was my favorite part. Seeing how he learned about human nature, language and to sense moods and feelings fascinated me!)
~Surprised at how articulate the monster was, what a big vocabulary!
~Was there any residual memories from the brain used in creating him? Just wondering.
~The majority felt sorry for the monster, yet not excusing his actions. None of us felt sorry for Victor.
~Such a willingness to take human life showed a lack of humanity.
~Personally, I thought it would have been helpful if the monster had a big hat. 🙂

Some plot things that left us wondering:

~What happened to Victor’s other brother? Did Shelley leave him unmentioned so she could create a sequel?
~The monster knew to take Victor’s notes when he left right after he was brought to life. How would he know these were important or that he’d ever want them?
~The idea that Victor could even create life was far fetched. Gen. 2:18 says it is not good for man to be alone. Definitely the case for Victor. Although if he hadn’t holed up in this apartment this would have been a short story.


Let me close with this spoiler and a question:
No one got their liver eaten every day.
Who do YOU think was the “champion of mankind” in this story?

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Discussion Questions for Frankenstein

Some things to ponder as you read this unusual story from a very eclectic author . . . I am glad my life is a bit (OK a lot)  less dramatic than Shelley’s!

By the way, I think these are pretty good questions . . . they even make you think if you haven’t read the book (which is my current situation!)

  1. Is Robert Walton’s ambition similar to Frankenstein’s, as Frankenstein believes?
  2. Why is the fifteen-year-old Frankenstein so impressed with the oak tree destroyed by lightning in a thunderstorm?
  3. Why does Frankenstein become obsessed with creating life? Was it wrong for Frankenstein to inquire into the origins of life?
  4. Why is Frankenstein filled with disgust, calling the monster "my enemy," as soon as he has created him?
  5. What makes the creature a monster rather than a human being?
  6. Why did Victor create the creature? What responsibilities did Victor, as the creator, have toward his creature? Why did Victor abandon the creature?
  7. What does the monster think his creator owes him?
  8. Why does Frankenstein agree to create a bride for the monster, then procrastinate and finally break his promise?
  9. Why can’t Frankenstein tell anyoneeven his father or Elizabethwhy he blames himself for the deaths of William, Justine, and Henry Clerval?
  10. Why doesn’t Frankenstein realize that the monster’s pledge "I shall be with you on your wedding-night" threatens Elizabeth as well as himself?
  11. Why does Frankenstein find new purpose in life when he decides to seek revenge on the monster "until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict"?
  12. Why are Frankenstein and his monster both ultimately miserable, bereft of human companionship, and obsessed with revenge? Are they in the same situation at the end of the novel?
  13. Why doesn’t Walton kill the monster when he has the chance?
  14. One of the novel’s tragedies is the inability of characters to recognize the humanity of the creature. What qualities make us human? Which of these qualities does the creature possess? What qualities does he not have?
  15. Is the monster, who can be persuasive, always telling the truth?
  16. Who is the actual monster in Frankenstein?
  17. Victor warns Robert that acquiring knowledge can lead to "destruction and infallible misery." What serious consequences might the acquisition of knowledge have?
  18. Scholars sometimes use Frankenstein as an argument against scientific technology that creates life forms; others argue that it is not technology itself but the use to which it is put that presents an ethical problem. What is Shelley’s position? What is your position?

Frankenstein encouragment

Thought I’d send out some encouragement for those of you, like myself, who are plugging away at this month’s book.

My book is organized in three volumes.
I’m currently in volume two, chapter three.
Things are starting to move along (finally.)

I’ve been listening to the book, for the most part. This book is in the public domain, audio files are free at LibriVox. (From there you can read it with the gutenburg etext link, it has some links to wikipedia entries, there is a zip of the all the audio file if you want to download it and you can get it as a podcast with itunes.)

I got the entire zip file and listen to it on the nano.

You can also listen to it on your phone… yes, even you regular old-non-fancy phone! As long as it can play mp3 files… which it might be able to do without you even knowing it! (worth checking into!) My phone has a mp3 player, it’s not fancy or elaborate by any means. It doesn’t remember where I am in the middle of the chapter if I turn it off. But I can fastforward to the correct spot. (Or just do the easy thing and try to always stop listening at the end of a chapter.)

All that to say it’s getting good… you just have to get through some groundwork Shelley lays in the beginning of the book.

And if you’re having trouble getting into it, maybe listening to it will help.

Plus it’s kinda fun to have a book read to me… instead of me being the one reading the books!

Hope to see you Thursday October 21, 2010 @ 7:00pm @ Paradise Bakery

About the Author: Mary Shelley

MaryShelley.jpg
Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

To give a full account of Marry Shelley’s life would take a while. I had always only known her as “the author of Frankenstein,” and that was about it. While she is best known for this work, Mary Shelley was also a prolific writer, publishing several novels, letters, short stories, plays, and travel books, and she edited and published the works of her husband, Romantic philosopher and poet Percy Bysshe Shelley.

Mary Shelley’s biography page on Wikipedia reads like a soap opera. Here are a few interesting highlights:

  • Mary’s father, William Godwin, was a liberal political philosopher, and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a philosopher and feminist. Mary Shelley was considered a political radical throughout her life.
  • Mary met Percy Shelley when he became one of her father’s political followers, and she began a relationship with him while he was still married. She had a child with him, who was born prematurely and later died. Mary and Percy didn’t marry until after Percy’s wife committed suicide and they were told that a marriage would help their chances of getting custody of Percy’s children by his wife. They got married, but were still denied custody.
  • In 1816, after spending the summer with Percy,  Lord Byron and several others, Mary got the idea for Frankenstein. It started as a short story and then was expanded and published in 1818.
  • Both Mary’s father and Percy Shelley had serious money problems and were constantly trying to avoid creditors and stay out of debtor’s prison.
  • Mary had four children, but only the fourth survived.
  • Percy and Mary had an “open marriage,” so Percy often pursued other women and is believed to have fathered several other children outside their marriage. 
  • In 1822, Percy Shelley died when his sailing boat sank in a storm off the coast of Italy.
  • In her later years, Mary devoted herself to her surviving son, to preserving her husband’s work and to writing. She died at the age of 53 from what is believed to be a brain tumor.
And all of that just scratches the surface!

Since she was so often surrounded by philosophers, poets and political thinkers, it’s no wonder that Shelley incorporated some strong philosophical and psychological themes into Frankenstein.

Do any of these events in Mary Shelley’s life surprise you? How do you think some of the events in her life may have influenced the writing of Frankenstein?

Frankenstein

This is the blog post where I introduce you to Frankenstein. I’m to tell you something about the book that will make you want to read it. So, I set about reading the introductions, and I was planning on doing some masterful synthesis of the historical context with what I’d extrapolated as themes in the book. Then I remembered that I’m not in school anymore, and you can’t make me.

However, I DO want to share some things that will hopefully entice you to read this book.

~This is a classic.
~The author, Mary Shelley, is a woman.
~Frankenstein isn’t the monster; he’s the scientist.
~It’s subtitle is “The Modern Prometheus.” According to Wikipedia: In Greek mythology, Prometheus (Ancient Greek: Προμηθεύς, “forethought”)[1] is a Titan, the son of Iapetus and Themis, and brother to Atlas, Epimetheus and Menoetius. He was a champion of mankind, known for his wily intelligence, who stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals.[2] Zeus then punished him for his crime by having him bound to a rock while a great eagle ate his liver every day only to have it grow back to be eaten again the next day.

I guess we’ll all just have to read the book to find out who is supposed to be the “champion of mankind” in this story and who gets their liver eaten every day. 😀