|Boris Karloff as the Monster|
We commonly associate Frankenstein's creation—who has no name in the novel—with repugnancy and horror. In the original novel, however, there are many other themes at play, including over-reaching ambition, moral ambiguity, guilt, responsibility, and abandonment. One is struck by the sorrow and regret in its tone as the narration unfolds. Victor Frankenstein is ambitious beyond reason, striving to be God-like in recreating life. It is the central irony of the novel that his monster destroys everyone Frankenstein loves, leaving him as empty, lifeless, and abandoned as his creation.
The Legacy of Frankenstein
Stephen King in his examination of horror fiction entitled Danse Macabre talks of the pervasive influence of the novel on the horror genre. There have been countless derivatives in various forms. An early stage version was produced as early as 1826, and theatric productions continue to this day. There have been innumerable film versions, perhaps the most memorable of monsters being portrayed by Boris Karloff, whose performance captured the creature's sorrow and alienation. The modern horror novelist Dean Koontz has written a series of novels based on the Frankenstein theme.
There have also been numerous comic tributes from Mel Brooks' classic, Young Frankenstein, to Tim Burton's Frankenweenie.
The novel is now in the public domain and is offered as a free download on many internet sites for new generations of readers to discover. For a list of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein sites, please see http://www.marywshelley.com/sources/mary-shelley-and-frankenstein-sites/.
(Adapted from an original post dated March 12, 2013)