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Headscratchers: Frankenstein
  • If Frankenstein was so worried about the monster breeding with the mate he was building, why didn't he just leave out the ovaries or something? He's smart enough to build and animate creatures, so surely he's smart enough to sterilize them.
    • The book was written in the nineteenth century. I doubt the author even knew what ovaries were.
    • Precisely. Frankenstein may have been a scientific genius, but Mary Shelley wasn't... although I'd have thought that, no matter how little she knew of biology, she could have surmised that there would be some way to make the bride "barren".
      • He could've just removed the uterus, they knew what that was for back then. Maybe, he was also revolted by the idea of creating another monster as well as the prospect of a whole race of them.
      • Victor was too much a perfectionist to deliberately omit or mar any part of his creation. Even with his fears about his monsters breeding, he was too committed to his ideals to let himself fail in any way. He'd already created a man, so if he was going to do the same with a woman, then he was going to go all the way, ovaries and uterus included.
    • If the monsters were pieced together from pieces of dead humans then any children they produced would have inherited the DNA of whoever their ovaries and testes came from and would have been normal humans. Of course, this isn't a strike against the author or Dr. Frankenstein as they didn't know how heredity worked back then.
      • Also, it's never said that he creates the monsters from pieces of dead humans. The process is never described at all beyond, essentially, "I made a man and imbued him with the spark of life". It's even justified in-story, as he doesn't want anyone else to learn the secret of bestowing life.
    • Plus don't you think the creature would have eventually figured out why his wife couldn't have children and just go back to killing people?
    • Well, Mary Shelley got the idea partially from the works of Paracelsus (who is mentioned in the book). Paracelsus had a recipe for making homunculi by putting stuff like blood and semen and other thing in a jar and letting it grow into a creature. Maybe he grew the creatures and had no way of controlling whether or not it grew reproductive organs. (Although, if that's the case, how did he have the original creature have perfect proportions and pretty hair?)
      • Frankenstein states that he himself picked the monster's features somehow, choosing what he believed to be beautiful. It just turned out that when it came to life, everyone thought the monster was horrible.
    • Remember that the creature in the original book is quite intelligent. Possibly it wasn't just the risk that the pair would breed that Frankenstein was worried about, but the risk that his creation would copy his method of constructing new creatures, had it observed its bride's "birth" from start to finish.
      • The Danny Boyle play suggests that Dr. Frankenstein takes on the task of creating a female Creature because he's intrigued by the challenge of making a perfect, beautiful Goddess of a creature. Maybe the Doctor decided that if he couldn't make the female "perfect," he'd rather not make her at all — and of course, what Victorian woman would be "perfect" without the ability to bear healthy, live children?
  • If Dr. Frankenstein was so horrified by the monsters appearence, wouldn't common sense say make a better looking monster before it comes to life? I mean, you had been working on this creature for so long, you'd think after seeing it continuously it would kinda click in your mind. Dr. Frank-N-Furter had his mind right
    • I can't find the exact quote, but I vaguely remember that Frankenstein did deliberately set out to create a good looking creature and chose the limbs to be in proportion, but when he was given the spark of life, he looked hideous. In a way, it's like creating what you think is the best looking animatronic model and then seeing how bad it looks on screen.
      • What I find appalling is that it doesn't click in Dr. Frankenstein's head that he's creating a body that's covered with stitches and bone-thin (which will look unattractive) and doesn't try and put extra layers of skin to cover the stiches/bones or a much more simpler approach: Take a whole, recently dead person and attempt to reanimate him/her. There were plenty of dead beggars in the streets if he didn't want to upset the upper class for zombifying their loved ones.
      • It doesn't actually say how Frankenstein created the monster in the book. Moreover, the point is that the monster should have been beautiful- perfectly in proportion, lustrous hair etc., except because of the monsters eyes (and the fact its an artificial human full stop) it fell so deep into the Uncanny Valley it was seen as hideous.
      • We all know what it's like to work on something (say, this site or some other lengthy project) for so long that you're seeing spots in front of your eyes and you're sleep-deprived and starting to lose it. Even cramming for finals or working obsessively on something on an ordinary job can do that to a dedicated person. your spool unwinds a little bit. What happened to the Doc was just a more extreme version of that. To do what he did he had to get so into his work that he got blinded to all details, even what would seem bleeding obvious to anyone else, and his spool pretty much totally unwound for the time being in the process.
      • Frankenstein did try bringing a dead person back to life. It didn't work. He mentions that while he can revive dead flesh, he at that time had not discovered how to resurrect a whole person.
      • That does beg the question, though: why would bringing a whole corpse to life be any more difficult than bringing an assorted collection of bits and pieces to life?
    • Aside from the points above, it's also a metaphor for giving birth, influenced heavily by Shelley's own stillbirth. The creature's construction takes nine months, during which Frankenstein is utterly single-minded and optimistic in his goal. When the creature is brought to life, he specifically cites its jaundiced, transparent skin and watery yellow eyes (much like a typical newborn) when describing its hideousness. It mirrors post-partum depression and the experience of a mother expecting her infant to be a beautiful little copy of her and her husband, and after the ordeal of childbirth seeing a tiny discolored troll covered in blood, shit and amniotic fluid.
  • Okay, so Frankenstein's monster, a perfectly proportioned 8 foot tall man (for reference, that's about the size of the Hulk in the Edward Norton movie), strangles a little boy. He then places a photo the boy was carrying in a young woman's pocket so she would be implicated in the crime. And people end up believing it? What the heck? When the boy's body is found it says that, "the print of the murderer's finger was on his neck." Since the monster was 8 feet tall, he must have had HUGE hands. The strangle marks left by his hands are left on the boy's neck and everyone thinks that they were made by a young woman? Am I the only one who had a serious WTF moment at this? I know that criminology didn't really exist yet, but just how dumb would you have to be not to notice that the strangulation marks on the boy are WAY too big for a woman to have ever made?
    • Well, all they had to go by in those days was observation and the means, motive, and opportunity. What would possess a servant woman to throttle the son of her master (I'm assuming she was a servant)? Means: Hire a big guy to do the deed so she can stay 'clean'. Motive: Revenge? Jealous love (the kid should've been hers, but wasn't. Crazy, I know.)? Maybe the kid was hers and she thought him a mistake? Maybe she just got fed up with the brat and decided to snuff him out? Opportunity: They were out on a trip together, and the boy managed to get himself seperated from the family. Of course, we know what really happened. I'm just considering what the police may have thought and discovering that photo in the woman's possession may have had confirmed it all for them. They got the woman who concoted the murder, but not the man who actually killed the boy.
      • The motive given in the court was theft of the locket the boy was carrying. It wasn't just a picture; the picture was in a valuable locket. It's implied, however, that the jury is horrified at the crime and just looking for someone to pin it on. When Elizabeth offers a strong character witness, the jury hates Justine even more because of her ingratitude toward one who loved her so much. To them, Justine's guilt was a foregone conclusion.
    • Plus, Unfortunate Implications ahoy: She was a servant woman. Back in those days, servants were seen as a class lower than the wealthy and were more often than not treated with minimum respect by the people they were working for. Sure they had some rights, but as far as society was concerned, a servant had little to no say. In Justine's case, the son of her master, the one who loved her so much, is now dead. She was doomed right from the start.

  • Frankenstein creates the monster by stitching together body parts, which really makes no sense. Surely it would be way more practical to find one intact corpse than to string together parts from different bodies.
    • That's the route taken in Young Frankenstein, where the good Doctor and Eyegore make off with an oversized corpse.
    • Also in Branagh's version, where the monster is built from the base of recently-executed Robert De Niro and given the dead brain of John Cleese. What a weird movie.
    • Well, there aren't really that many "intact" corpses since you usually either die of injury or die of old age. If Frankenstein doesn't want his creation to have an elderly the body his only option is to find young ones, hence the injuries and need for stitching. And he probably knows better than to handle corpses of people who died of diseases.
    • In the book, he doesn't stitch pieces together. He constructs a man completely from scratch, albeit with raw materials taken from cadavers. He cites the minuteness of the parts as his chief difficulty, so he increases everything in size, right down to the veins.
    • Its actually explicitley stated that, "In time, he might be able to grant life after it had already left the body." Meaning that The Monster's body wasn't pre-owned.
    • Some adaptations justify his building a body piece by piece as him wanting to create a new life, not reactivate a pre-existing one.
  • The monster was a blank slate when brought to life; essentially a newborn baby, but with motor skills. In barely two years, he has learned to speak fluently, in two languages, simply by eavesdropping on a family. He has taught himself to read, and does so well enough to comprehend a book like Paradise Lost. WTF? I don't care how intelligent he is; with no teachers, tutors, or positive human interaction of any kind, this severely strains Willing Suspension of Disbelief. In two years, he simply does not have the life experience needed to grasp abstract concepts, especially with no one to ask questions of. The idea that he had a used brain with some leftover knowledge doesn't work either, because he explicitly says that he had to figure out basic things like keeping warm, eating, and finding shelter by himself.
    • It's possible that his brain absorbs information in a completely different way to regular humans.
    • I've heard alternative version of the tale stating that his patched-together tongue still remembered the words, and his brain still once remembered the thoughts. He was more than learning, he was "re-calling."
    • This isn't even mentioning the fact that he was 'born' an adult. His brain was already fully devoloped; this is opposed to being educated as a child, whose brain remains underdeveloped until around twenty-three years or so. It's not too much more plausible, but it could be a variable.
    • Read the first Tarzan novel and the description of how he learns English, and you'll find that the Monster is in good company.
  • The monster is created over the course of months, from many different body parts. How did Victor keep the body from decaying?
    • The story mentions (at the very end) the monster's mummy-like skin. Could he be mummyfied?
      • Real mummies are always very brittle, so probably not. But possibly his skin was treated to convert it to leather.
    • Who says it didn't? There's a reason the Creature's stereotypically green.
  • On occasion, the monster being called "Frankenstein" is justified by saying that he inherits his master surname. Fair enough, but isn't he technically the biological offspring of the people whose bodies were used to create him? Also, there does not seem to be much of a precedent in artificial life-forms inheriting the names of the scientists who created them unless the scientists were intending to raise them as children. No one ever gave Data the surname Soong.
    • Perhaps the more salient point is: it's not the like the novel calls him that, or any other source for well over a century. It's a persistent misnomer born of confusion and ignorance.
    • I'm completely aware that the monster in the book was never called "Frankenstein." I'm talking about a common justification by people in Real Life who are used to calling him that.
      • It is indeed a lame justification. I mean, any retelling of the monster's story might hypothetically have him name himself "Frankenstein" (this would be a curious thing to do, considering his justifiable loathing of his creator), but it still has dick all to do with the novel, or any film or theatrical adaptation known to me.
    • I don't see why this is a lame justification. Frankenstein is the parent of the creature in the sense that he was the one responsible for its being. And yes, technically he is the biological offspring of the people whose bodies were used to create him; just as adopted children are technically the biological offspring of their natural parents; and we don't insist that they take the surname of their natural parents (nor that children created by sperm donors take the surname of the donator).
      • If Frankenstein is a parent (and on some metaphorical level, this is certainly the case), he is an absentee father who immediately forsakes his responsibility to his offspring... let's call him the ultimate deadbeat dad. He does even attend to the most basic responsibility of any parent: to give his child a name. This is why would appear to me to be thematically dead wrong to call the monster "Frankenstein."
  • Ignoring the insanely fast rate at which the Creature learns to speak, I'm confused by the mix of languages. He learns speech by eavesdropping on a French family, yet he is able to read and understand Frankenstein's notes, which are presumably in German. You could argue that he learns that by himself, but he specifically states that he can't understand the German people who come to see the family after his failed attempt to enter human society.
    • Frankenstein is from Geneva, which is in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. Later in the book, he mentions ranting in his native tongue. The only one who could understand him was a guy who just so happened to know French. So his notes are presumably in French.

  • By the end of the book most of the Frankenstein family is dead. Victor's mother dies, the monster kills one of his brothers then kills Victors wife, I can't remember how his father dies but he does, and then Victor dies. That leaves his brother Ernest the last living member of the Frankenstein family. What happened to him then? There's no mention of his fate.
    • He probably kept himself hidden once he heard the news. Whatever trouble befell his family, he probably doesn't want it descending down on him either. If I were him, I would've made sure not to do anything that would make the Fates consider rubbing me off to finish my family off for good.
  • Correct me if I'm wrong, but Victor spends his last days inside a small boat in the middle of the Arctic telling his story to the ship captain. At the end, the creature appears on the boat mourning Frankenstein's corpse. My question: How did the creature figure out where Frankenstein was, and how did he get there? Did he just triangulate Frankenstein's last known location, jumped into the water and swim?
    • In many adaptations, the creature and Victor were pursuing each other across the world, and by the time Victor met the captain they had just about found each other. The creature was probably clinging to the outside of the ship while Victor told the story, waiting for him to finish and die, so he could have peace in his final moments.

  • Where exactly did people get the idea that Adam (I insist on using the name since the Creature adopted it) was cobbled together from corpses? It's never stated in the books, merely that some of the materials came from a slaughterhouse.
    • Only the very same sentence: "The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials" (not to mention "I collected bones from charnel-houses" in the immediately previous sentence). Some have suggested that Victor just means materials for study purposes and the creature is made of fully synthetic materials, but it's easy to see where people get the idea.
    • Also, if we're speaking about the book here, the Creature adopted the name Adam? The closest sentence is this: "Remember that I am thy creature; I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed." That it a long way from "Call me Adam!" — in fact, the line specifically refutes the appropriateness of that label.
    • Word of God.

Forgotten RealmsHeadscratchers/LiteratureFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler

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