The Frankenstein story is about a scientist of the same name that somehow creates life by reanimating the dead parts of other humans. He doesn’t create life in the strictest biological sense, but he does create a new creature that he is able to imbue with life. The Frankenstein story has numerous meanings, points and lessons. In my essay, I look to expose some of those meanings and lessons. When you consider the fact that the book was written by somebody that was (in essence) bored at the time.
There is touch of the Christian religion in the story. Jesus was reanimated from the dead, and reanimation happens in the story. One of the fundamental elements of the reanimation is lightening, which is commonly associated with god and god’s power. God is also mentioned in the book, and in a sense, one could say that Frankenstein is playing god’s role, though the comparison is flimsy since a woman is better able to play god and create life than a male scientist is.
The message around differences is a little unclear. It doesn’t say in definite terms that we should celebrate differences, and yet the reader is placed in a position where he or she feels empathy for the monster. Should we therefore shun or embrace children that are born deformed because they are different? Should we too feel sorry for them? The story poses a few ethical and moral questions that it leaves unanswered.
A monster is not born a monster. Even though Frankenstein’s monstrous creation looks like a “monster” in technical terms, it is not created evil. It starts to act badly because of the way it is treated. It is treated like a monster by Frankenstein and so it becomes one. This is a very powerful message because it is also the basis of many peoples’ values. Many believe that a child may be raised to be good or be bad and that no child is born with either good tendencies or bad tendencies.
Dr Frankenstein is unable to give birth like a woman, and yet much of what happens in the story seems to reflect what happens to a woman when she has post-natal depression. Rejection is a big part of this story and Frankenstein appears to be the bad guy because of it, but what if he was suffering with some skewed form of post-natal depression. We do not blame the mothers for their emotional disconnect with their child when they have post-natal depression, so why do so many readers blame Frankenstein for his emotional disconnect and eventual rejection?
Many feminist theories have been thrown at the story of Frankenstein, but one of the more subtle is the idea that people want what they cannot have. In simple terms, Frankenstein wanted to create life because he knew that as a man he could never create life as a woman could. When he eventually creates life, he has what he wants, and ergo doesn’t want it anymore. He doesn’t want it anymore because the only reason he wanted it was because he couldn’t have it. A feminist may say that men envy their ability to give life, but that if men could do it, they would shun and/or dislike it.
Another hidden message was seemingly echoed by Foreign Secretary George Canning just ten years after the abolition of slavery. He said that if slaves were emancipated too quickly that they would rise up and cause havoc the same way Frankenstein’s monster did. The story may not have been written with slaves in mind, but the story itself does suggest that if enslaved/mastered people are given power too quickly that they may use that power to cause chaos.