This is an immortal tale about hybrids, love and hate, justice, racism and the responsibilities of scientists.
Its fundamental question is: ‘Had I the right to inflict this curse upon everlasting generations? … Future ages might curse me as their past, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price, perhaps, of the existence of the whole human race.’
The ‘unhallowed arts’ of Frankenstein produce a ‘filthy mass that moved and talked’, but it is nevertheless a human being with normal human aspirations: ‘Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good, misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.’
But, Frankenstein is a ‘painted bird’: ‘Am I to be thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on.’
His reaction is : ‘If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear.’
Mary Shelley’s vision of mankind is far from rosy: ‘I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid poverty.’ ‘A man was considered, except in very rare circumstances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few.’ ‘Was man yet so vicious and base? I could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow.’
Her world is one of resentment, racism and jealousy: ‘religion and wealth had been the cause of his condemnation.’
But, ‘how strange is that clinging love we have of life, even on the excess of misery.’
Frankenstein is the scion of the evil principle, the invention of a man-scientist and a ‘painted bird’, who is therefore not accepted by the rest of the human race. His reaction is revenge.
As Oscar Wilde said in ‘The Critic as Artist’: ‘For when a work is finished it has as it were, an independent life of its own, and may deliver a message far other than that which was put into its lips to say’.
Some texts become even more important and luminous with time, like this masterpiece.
A must read.