Sunday, September 12, 2010

Misconceptions About Frankenstein

I just finished reading the first ten chapters of Shelley's Frankenstein to find that they were surprisingly short compared to what I had anticipated.  This was not the only misconception I had about the book that was shattered by reading these chapters.  I found that everything I thought I knew about the book was based on hackneyed ideas of whose origins I'm not entirely sure of, starting with, up until the other day when I began reading the Letters in the beginning of the story, I had no idea that the book was written as a second-hand account from Frankenstein.  I also had never even heard of Walton. 

For years, the mention of Frankenstein's name always conjured up these images in my head of a scary, decrepit, mad scientist and his creepy, hunch-backed assistant in some castle-like mansion in the middle of nowhere.  In my mind it was always the middle of the night, and while a terrible lightening storm raged outside, the white bed sheet was pulled back to reveal a very large, greenish man with screws in his neck.  I am sure that these stereotyped ideas are a collage of various movies and cartoons I watched as a kid (I don't distinctly remember watching one all the way through) but I feel as though I've only ever seen a fourth grader's recreation of the Sistine Chapel.  I did not have the slightest understanding that during the time Frankenstein creates the monster he is away at school, or that he has any sort of family to speak of, or even that he is pursuing his research with the very best of intentions: I always just assumed that he was a lonely old creep.

Another very wrong idea that I have harbored about the book is that the monster is just a large, fumbling idiot that does not know right from left, let alone wrong from right.  Granted, when he is first created he does not know how to talk, and I still have yet to read the account he gives Frankenstein, but at the end of chapter ten he delivers a very well spoken, if not brilliant argument to Frankenstein.  This was the very last thing that I had expected to happen, considering that I was under the impression his communication amounted to little more than ominous moans. 

Consequently, I've resolved to try and rid my brain of any other preconceived notions I have about this book (or any other) before I've actually read the entire thing for myself. 

1 comment:

  1. That's why you don't let Hollywood ruin good classic literature. :)