Frankenstein's Monster: from Misunderstood Creature to Scientific Breakthrough

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The 19th century reader of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was treated to a tale of fantastic proportions. A story of a monster that was created from parts of corpses and could be brought to life would have been an extremely scary story. They would not know if the creation of a monster in this way was really a scientific possibility. The 21st century audience however, now knows that this is not scientifically possible. The fear that was struck in the hearts of the 19th century reader by this monster is now gone. With this in mind the story of Frankenstein now has to be altered to conjure the same fear in our current society of that which existed in the hearts of the original audience. In Hollywood's remakes of the original novel the monster is not the same monster as was in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Hollywood has used aesthetics, science and dehumanization of the monster to turn the story of Frankenstein into movies that would reflect our current society. This essay will strive to draw connections from the original text, empirical research and Hollywood's modern day film remakes of Frankenstein to demonstrate how the monster has been changed and turned into a monster that our society can understand.

In the original text the monster was feared for mostly aesthetic reasons. When people saw the monster they reacted out of fear and either tried to flee him or fight him. They did not have any conversations with the monster to see if he had truly evil intentions. The people just immediately judged the monster as evil. Since as far back as early Greek philosophers, beauty has been equated with good and ugliness equated with evil. In the first description of the monster, Victor Frankenstein told us that he stands eight feet tall. This would be a person of enormous stature and quite intimidating to anyone. Victor was striving to create the perfect man and in such resolves to make him beautiful. "His limbs were in proportion, and I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful!-Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black, and flowing; his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but these luxuriance only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, that seemed almost of the same colour as the dun white sockets in which they were set, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips." (Padley 2003, p. 197) In this description Victor told us how he wants the creation to look when it is completed. In the essay Frankenstein and (sublime) creation Jonathan Padley(1998) explains "it is always aesthetic rather than scientific terms that take precedence in judgments that are made about the monster"(P. 197). As soon as the monster was created, Victor realized that the work to create a beautiful perfect man he thought he was engaged in was in fact the creation of a hideous monster. Victor decided to shun it and fears what he has unleashed upon society. The hideousness that leads to social rejection and the creation turning into a monster is due to a lack of love; has been carried on in the Hollywood version, but with many variations. In the original text the monster became a monster because of his hideousness that resulted in rejection by his father, society and his failure to find love. The very first movie version of Frankenstein to come out of Hollywood was James Whales version titled Frankenstein. In this version the way that the monster becomes evil was not a result of how society treats him, but it is a biologically determined condition. He is given a criminal brain that was stolen from a laboratory. This brain is shown in a scene to be the brain of an evil criminal, therefore, he had a genetic predisposition be evil; there would be no effect that society could have on him to change him in to anything else. The unattractiveness of the monster is still very apparent in James Whale's 1931 version of the Mary Shelley...
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