Review : Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus – by Mary Shelley

Reviewed by Trent

As far as literary greats go, this is certainly a narrative that stands the test of time. Even after nearly 200 years, its subject matter is still relevant to us now, especially in this age of technological advancement that we live in. Frankenstein is about a wealthy scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who seeks to create life in an attempt to achieve mastery over death. In succeeding, he creates a nameless monster made from parts of various deceased people, and afraid of his creation, abandons it in fear, leaving the creature lacking an identity and a family to love. The creature also helps us to understand a little bit more about what it means to be human as it wanders aimlessly through the countryside encountering others that treat it with fear and disgust, yet in finding someone who cares for it, the creature eventually learns what it is to feel loss, leaving this poor creation alone and full of rage and vengeance for being created. This novel challenges the idea that science and technology will help us in every facet of life and in fact can cause great harm when misunderstood and/or abused. Frankenstein serves as a cautionary tale of the damage that we as an intelligent species are capable of when we abuse our power, specifically over the natural world, whether it’s a scientist trying to create a life, split the atom or combust fossil fuels for energy. Yet this book also addresses one of the great human questions: What is it to be human? Could we turn out like Frankenstein’s creation through a lack of identity and purpose or would the creature have been more human with someone to care for it, or perhaps there is no distinction between the creature and humans and it is how we are raised that makes all the difference. Perhaps the only major problem with this novel is its language, having been written at the beginning of the 19th Century, which can come across as dull and over-descriptive, but for those that like a bit of sci-fi mixed into a primarily philosophical tale, this novel is near-perfect.

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