YMMV / Frankenstein

General:

  • Common Knowledge: Everyone "knows" that Frankenstein is the creature, or at least used to. Nowadays it's fairly common in fiction to hear one character snootily correct another about it being the name of the scientist and not the monster.
  • I Am Not Shazam: Many people call Frankenstein's Monster "Frankenstein", while he actually has no name. "Frankenstein" is the name of his maker, Victor Frankenstein. But we can probably blame Mary Shelley for that; it would be a lot clearer to all if she'd called her novel "Doctor Frankenstein". This confusion dates back nearly as far as the novel itself, and became established during periods when the actual book was out of print, but its characters and plot were being emulated by stage plays, knockoffs and parodies throughout the pre-copyright 19th century. Ironically, since one could argue that Frankenstein is the "father" of the creature, you could say that the creature's last name is Frankenstein.

The novel:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Where to start?
    • Victor Frankenstein is either a tragic and naive scientist who, in his enthusiasm, bit more off than he could chew and paid a terribly high price for it and has every right to be emotional about it, OR a selfish asshole who tried to keep his reputation in tact by abandoning the monster and got what was coming to him and he's being whiny about things that are entirely his fault.
    • And the monster is either a far bigger woobie than Victor could ever hope to be, abandoned by the only person he could possibly consider a parent, or a wangsty monster with a Freudian Excuse who needs to take responsibility for his actions.
    • The monster is nothing but a figment of Victor's imagination, embodying everything bad in himself.
    • Victor Frankenstein is actually gay and his endeavor to create the idea man was his attempt to make a companion for himself and remove women from the process of reproduction.
  • Anvilicious: That science in general and creating life specifically is hubris and fundamentally flawed is heavyhandedly hammered into the reader. It doesn't really work; the story doesn't support such a conclusion. A modern, thinking reader is more inclined to conclude "don't abandon your kid, particularly if he is socially handicapped" than "science is hubris" from this story.
  • Broken Aesop: On the surface, the novel appears to espouse the fairly anvilicious message that humans are not supposed to play God. Victor Frankenstein himself expressly says it was wrong to create human-like life the artificial way. However the humanoid he created was much smarter, picking up language at an alarming rate, stronger, faster (in the novel at least), and (initally) more moral than most normal humans. His evil nature only grew out of his constant abuse at the hands of humans who were too terrified to give him a chance and from Victor's hatred and neglect. The tragedy is that all the bloodshed caused by the creature could easily have been avoided had Victor Frankenstein taken care of his creation instead of leaving it to die. Indeed, anything more than just cruelly abandoning the newborn confused creature would have helped greatly. He also could have put in the extra effort to make his creation look more acceptable to humans. The humans he approached could have given him a chance instead of beating him up, or the creature could have realized how horribly superficial humans are and worn a mask when he approached them. Even if Victor Frankenstein had simply kept his word to create a companion for his creature and simply rendered her infertile most of the deaths could have been averted.
  • Crack Pairing: Creature/Everything. You saw it coming.
  • Cry for the Devil: The creature's lament at the end of the novel demonstrates that he still has the capability to feel remorse for his actions and that he was formed by his surroundings, rather than born evil.
  • Hollywood Homely: It's never made clear exactly why the Creature is so hideous, other than he's big, he has watery eyes, and yellowish skin. Victor designed the Creature to be an ideal human specimen, and the in the earliest illustrations, he looks like Poldark.
  • Ho Yay: Victor's describes Henry Clerval in a way someone would describe their love interest. Heck, his description of Henry is more thorough than those of his fiancée, Elizabeth. And he reacts to Henry's murder more strongly than Elizabeth's murder, too! When Elizabeth gets murdered, he is 'merely' heartbroken, much like with William. When he find out Henry is dead, he goes into hysterics and is bedridden with a deadly fever for 2 months! This is in addition to the fact that Victor's main beef with his creation is that he wasn't as hot as he wanted him to be. His entire experiment could be read as an attempt to make the perfect male partner for himself.
    • Not to mention the way that Walton goes on about how perfect Victor is and how he adores him.
  • Moral Event Horizon: In spite of his tragic backstory, it becomes increasingly difficult to sympathize with the creature once he starts racking up the monster points by taking vengeance on Victor's innocent and completely clueless family members.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The first few chapters detail the back story of the sea captain who met the titular Doctor on his expedition to find the North Pole. If you didn't know that the novel was a Story Within a Story (Within a Story) you would read the opening thinking "Get to the unholy abominations against nature, already!"
    • There's a long segment where the Monster watches a family for about a year - his yearning for a mate comes from the young man being betrothed to an older woman from some exotic place, as well as his identification with Adam's desire for a mate in Milton's Paradise Lost.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Oh come on, a race spawned from the Creature and a manmade Bride would have been awesome. But, alas, Frankenstein had to destroy her body before she could be awakened.
  • Wangst: Once Frankenstein starts kicking himself over having made Creature and Creature's actions, the emotions he expresses can seem so overwrought that they become wangst. This is especially true considering his until-now perfect life that only falls apart because of his own stupidity.
    • Once he made the Creature, almost every inner monologue or conversation is Frankenstein going "woe is me" at length. This goes on for the rest of the book and never stops. It sails past "sympathetic" to just plain "pathetic".
    • The creature has shades of this as well. Although he is a much more sympathetic character than Victor considering his harsh upbringing, he continues to play the victim even as he's picking of Victor's innocent loved ones. After a while, one can only shed so many tears for his fate.


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