A Comparison of the Book and the Movie Frankenstein

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The context in which a text is placed changes its purpose and allows it to be interpreted in a variety of ways. The function, perspective and audience of the novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelly differs greatly to the film Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein by Kenneth Branagh in many ways. Importantly, Kenneth Branagh’s film was made for a more contemporary audience, reflecting modern concerns where as Frankenstein the novel was written in the context of the 18th century and dealt with the questions at that time. These differences can be seen through the ideas presented, characterization, setting and plot in each of the texts. In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, the main concepts are the power of knowledge, the consequences of man playing god and nature vs. nurture, which is why in Branagh’s appropriation he also explores these ideas. Branagh’s film deals with these themes in a modern context and he relates them back to moral contemporary dilemma’s concerning cloning, robots and using science to postpone death. In Branagh’s film he was able to present these ideas in a stronger form and give more meaning to the concepts because he had both visual and literary techniques to use, but in essence both texts communicate these ideas through characterization, setting and plot. Branagh’s appropriation deals with the inconsistencies within Shelley’s plot as well as aiming to stay true to the text and enhance the modern audience’s appreciation of the novel. The characterization of the main characters differs between each of the texts. In Branagh’s appropriation, he tries to illustrate both the good and evil qualities in each of the characters and give purpose to Victor’s actions. In the film, although being on a quest for knowledge and power Victor is very passionate and romantic; however Branagh stays true to the novel by making him sometimes selfish, ignorant and curious. Through characterization both Branagh and Shelly comment on the theme of man playing god. They show...
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