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Frankenstein is Mary Shelley's well-known tale of an ambitious scientist and his monster creation, first written when she was only eighteen years old. Although perhaps it isn't really well-known, at least in terms of the plot; while reading, I found that several things I thought were part of the Frankenstein tale were false: There is no helper named Igor, and there is no specific mention of lightening (or any method, really) used to bring the creature to life. I had also assumed that the monster was the one known as Frankenstein, when that name belongs solely to Victor Frankenstein, the scientist and the main narrator of the story. And the monster is actually very articulate and intelligent, dispelling another misconception of mine.

Shelley's prose is generally easy to read and understand, at least once I got used to the older style of writing. She uses three different narrators, in a nesting doll sort of way: Captain Walton, whose narration frames the novel, Victor Frankenstein, who tells most of the tale to Walton, and the monster, who tells his story to Frankenstein. Shelley does a good job of differentiating each character's voice; I don't think I ever became confused as to who was telling what. Her descriptions of surroundings always gave me a precise picture of where the characters were situated, and some of the places they visited sounded beautiful.


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Perhaps the biggest misconception surrounding this story is that it is a horror novel. Horror certainly is a part of it, but Shelley also made profound societal commentary that elevates Frankenstein to being something more than "simply" horror. Through the actions of Frankenstein and his monster, we see how human arrogance and superiority, how playing God, can backfire in dangerous ways, not to mention portraying that how we treat others is a responsibility, and how it can come back on us, for better or worse. The points she made are still very, very relevant today; in ways, Frankenstein showed how some things haven't really changed.

One of the things I liked best was how Shelley presented the point of views of Frankenstein and the monster. Sometimes I was annoyed at Frankenstein for his actions, but at the same time I could also see where he was coming from; a lot of us might not act any better than he did. And the monster begins his life as childlike, and not a monster at all; he simply wants companionship and kindness like any person. But because he is so preternaturally large, and ugly, he is shunned, even when he saves a child's life. Really, he was made into a monster, not born one. However, he was still responsible for his own actions, which were just as brutal as Frankenstein's, and that did keep me from truly liking him. But Shelley's juxtaposition between the two was very well done.