February 22, 2021

#08-049: Frankenstein

a huge, distraught-looking man lies in the forground among bones and rags; a shocked-looking man is at the door behind him, prepared to flee
Victor displays disgust at his creation

Note: Most people are familiar with the figure some call Frankenstein, actually Frankenstein's monster, who was made by Doctor Victor Frankenstein. Most of us think of Mary Shelley's novel of that name as a cautionary tale about the abuses of science and technology. But the author herself hinted that the 1818 horror story--which she wrote in an informal competition with her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and the great Lord Byron--had a different, deeper, meaning, though she never explicitly stated what that was.

For another version of this story, see Lesson #01-014.

Get Ready: What kind of rules should there be to limit scientists from going "too far"?

Frankenstein begins with a letter telling a "frame story" by a ship's captain who picks up an emaciated man in the Arctic wastes. He is Victor Frankenstein, and the story continues with his narrative: how, grieving over the death of his mother, he has "built" a man out of the parts of cadavers, and reanimated it using a secret technique. Hoping that the creature would be beautiful, he instead finds it hideous, and is repulsed by it.

He leaves his rooms in horror, and when he returns, the creature has escaped.

The story now changes to the Creature's point-of-view. He looks too frightful to stay in the city, and settles in the countryside near the cottage of a blind old man and his family. He learns to speak by listening to them, and is even speaking with the old man when the other family members return, see him, and attack him. This turns him against all humanity. Even when he saves a young girl from drowning, her father, thinking the creature means her harm, shoots him in the shoulder. After many other nefarious deeds, he sets off for the Arctic.

We now return to Victor's "voice." The Creature has forced him to make a female companion to cure his loneliness, but Victor destroys her to prevent more evil from happening. The Creature vows revenge, and indeed kills Victor's own bride on their wedding night. This is what leads the doctor to pursue the monster into the frozen north.

The ship's captain now picks up the tale, and tells us that after Victor dies of exhaustion on his ship, the Creature appears and mourns over his body, vowing to kill himself as he drifts away on an ice floe.

Perhaps the story shows us how an unloved person can become a monster.


Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frankenstein

Practice: Match the term to its definition below:

  1. abuses
  2. cadavers
  3. drifts
  4. emaciated
  5. explicitly
  6. floe
  7. mourns
  8. nefarious
  9. reanimated
  10. repulsed

  1. floats; moves gently
  2. a sheet of floating ice
  3. brought back to life
  4. expresses sorrow
  5. dead bodies
  6. wrongful uses
  7. extremely thin
  8. evil
  9. pushed away; rejected
  10. clearly and directly

Answers are in the first comment below.

Submitted to the Shenzhen Daily for February 22, 2021

1 comment:

  1. Answers to the Practice: 1. f; 2. e; 3. a; 4. g; 5. j; 6. b; 7. d; 8. h; 9. c; 10. i