My takeaways from Chapters 8 through 14 of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus:
- The Grief: You might forget that behind the grand gothic horror of the story, and behind the florid long-running sentences, is a suffering you can’t ignore. Mary Shelley lost a lot of people dear to her, including two young children. I think that her grief is all over these chapters where the language lingers on the aftermath of the death of Victor’s brother, the young child William. I found myself pretty moved and depressed upon encountering these chapters.
- The Wrongful Conviction: There’s a pretty compelling sub-narrative surrounding the character of Justine, the Frankenstein family’s nanny who gets wrongly accused for the murder of William. We’re shown an example of mob justice, a potential court room drama from which there is no happy ending. Justine knows she’s innocent but she just takes it and confesses, thinking it will bring her virtue. It’s infuriating. Vic is too gutless to save her, and Elizabeth just nobly enables her suffering with all of her wonderfulness. Bah. This segment would make a good Lifetime movie or true crime documentary, especially since it looks like a whole bunch of 80’s/90’s child-careWas this the proto-Hand That Rocks the Cradle?
- The Romanticism: After Justine’s execution, Victor gets cheered up by beautiful alpine vistas. What an asshole. But wait-the nature stands in stark contrast to both the monster and Vic’s attempt to play God. You can’t get too mad. The language is beautiful.Still, as I ascended higher, the valley assumed a more magnificent and astonishing character. Ruined castles hanging on the precipices of piny mountains, the impetuous Arve, and cottages every here and there peeping forth from among the trees formed a scene of singular beauty. But it was augmented and rendered sublime by the mighty Alps, whose white and shining pyramids and domes towered above all, as belonging to another earth, the habitations of another race of beings.
- Meet the Monster: The monster speaks finally as he and Vic meet on top of a beautiful glacier. He is a brilliant, wonderful ideation. A shout out to the LibriVox narrator Mark Bradford who gave the creature an amazingly dark, sinister voice. Hope you’re getting work in voiceovers!
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