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Frankenstein (Enriched Classics) by Mary…

Frankenstein (Enriched Classics)

by Mary Shelley

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Frankenstein begins with the epistolary technique of a correspondence between Captain Robert Walton and his sister. These letters form the framework of the story in which Walton tells his sister the story of Victor Frankenstein and his creature as Frankenstein tells it to him.

Walton sets out to explore the North Pole and expand his scientific knowledge in hopes of achieving fame and friendship. Unfortunately, the ship becomes trapped in ice. One day, the crew observes a being in the stature of a giant man in the distance on a dogsled. Frankenstein was in pursuit of his monster, when all but one of his dogs from his dogsled died. He broke apart his dogsled to make oars to row an ice-raft toward the vessel. Hours later they find Frankenstein, weak and in need of sustenance, near the ship. Saved by the kind occupants of the ship, Frankenstein starts to recover from his exertion and recounts to Walton his story, warning Walton of the wretched effects of allowing your ambition to push you to aim beyond what you are capable of achieving. Victor Frankenstein begins by telling Walton of his childhood. Frankenstein was raised by a wealthy family, and was always encouraged to seek a greater understanding of the world around him (but not science), whilst remaining in a safe environment surrounded by loving family and friends.

Frankenstein grew up with close ties to Elizabeth Lavenza, his orphaned cousin brought to his family who is raised with Frankenstein like a sister, and his friend Henry Clerval. As a young boy, Frankenstein becomes obsessed with studying outdated theories of science that focus on achieving natural wonders. He plans to attend college at Ingolstadt, Germany when a week before departure his mother dies of Scarlet Fever. The whole family is in grief, and Frankenstein views it as his first misfortune. At college, he excels at chemistry and other sciences and discovers the secret to imbuing the inanimate with life, in part by studying how life decays. He also becomes interested in galvanism, a technique discovered in the 1790s.

In contrast with later film adaptations the monster in the original novelization was not created from dead body parts. In fact Frankenstein himself concedes that he later found that reversing death was impossible. While the exact details of the monster's construction are left ambiguous Shelley's depiction of the monster is akin to that of a golem. Frankenstein explains that he has been forced to make the monster much larger than a normal man, in part because of the difficulty in replicating the minute parts of the human body. After giving the monster life, Frankenstein, disgusted by and fearful of the monster's appearance, flees. Henry Clerval comes to Ingolstadt to study with Frankenstein, but ends up nursing him after his exhausting and secretive efforts to create a human life. Frankenstein recovers from his illness in a fortnight. He determines to come home, for his five-year-old brother William has been found murdered.

After several harsh encounters with humans, the monster becomes afraid of them and spends a year living near a cottage and observing the family who lived there. Through these observations he becomes educated and self-aware and realizes that he is very different in physical appearance from the humans he watches. In loneliness, the monster seeks the friendship of the family of cottagers(the De Laceys). The family was previously wealthy, but is forced into exile when Felix De Lacey rescues the father of his love, Safie. The father, a Turkish merchant, was wrongfully accused of a crime and sentenced to death, obviously because of racism. When the man is rescued, he promises Felix the hand of Safie. But, he loathes the idea of his beloved daughter marrying a Christian and flees. Safie comes back, though, eager for the freedom of European women. Eventually, the monster tries to befriend the family, but they are afraid of him, and this rejection makes him seek vengeance against his creator. He travels to Geneva and meets a little boy in the woods. In the vain hope that because the boy is still young and potentially unaffected by older humans' perception of his hideousness, the monster hopes to kidnap him and keep him as a companion, but the boy reveals himself as a relation of Frankenstein, so the monster kills him in his first act of vengeance against his creator. The monster plants a necklace he removes from the child's body on a sleeping girl, Justine Moritz, the Frankenstein's trusted servant who is like a member of the family. She is found with the necklace and knowing she is not guilty, admits to the murder. She then is put on trial and executed.

When Frankenstein learns of his brother's death, he returns to Geneva to be with his family. In the woods where his young brother is murdered, Frankenstein sees the monster and becomes sure that he is William's and Justine's murderer. Frankenstein, ravaged by his grief and guilt for creating the monster who wreaked so much destruction, retreats into the mountains alone to find peace. After a time in solitude, the monster approaches Frankenstein. Initially furious and intending to kill it, Frankenstein composes himself upon the monster's pleading. The monster delves into a lengthy narrative of his short life, beginning with his creation, which fashions an impression of him as an initially harmless innocent whom humans abused into wretchedness. He concludes his story with a demand that Frankenstein create for him a female counterpart, reasoning that no human will accept his existence and character due to his hideous outer appearance. He argues that as a living thing, he has a right to happiness and that Frankenstein, as his creator, has the duty to facilitate it. He promises to never reappear in his life if Frankenstein does so.

Frankenstein, fearing for his family, reluctantly agrees and travels to England to do his work. Clerval accompanies Frankenstein, but they separate in Scotland. In the process of creating a second being on the Orkney Islands, Frankenstein becomes plagued by the notion of the carnage another monster could wreak and destroys the unfinished project. The monster vows revenge on Frankenstein's upcoming wedding night. Before Frankenstein returns to Ireland, the monster murders Clerval. Once arriving in Ireland, Frankenstein is imprisoned for the crime, and falls violently ill. After being acquitted and back to health, Frankenstein returns home.

Once home, Frankenstein marries his cousin Elizabeth and, in full knowledge of and belief in the monster's threat, prepares for a fight to the death with the monster. He doesn't want Elizabeth to be frightened at the sight of the monster, so he asks her to stay in her room for the night. Instead, the monster kills Elizabeth; the grief of his wife's, William's, Justine's, Clerval's, and Elizabeth's deaths kills Frankenstein's father. After that, Frankenstein vows to pursue the monster until one destroys the other.

Over months of pursuit, the two end up in the Arctic Circle near the North Pole. Here, Frankenstein's narrative ends and Captain Walton reassumes the telling of the story. A few days after Frankenstein finishes his story, Walton and his crew decide to turn back and go home, since they cannot break through the ice. As Frankenstein dies, the monster appears in his room. Walton hears the monster's sorrowful justification for his vengeance as well as expressions of remorse before he leaves the ship and travels toward the Pole to destroy himself on his own funeral pyre so that none would ever know of his existence.

  bostonwendym | Mar 3, 2016 |
Interesting to read the original - you see adaptations of the book, but it's neat to see the differences. ( )
  katieloucks | Feb 26, 2016 |
It gets lonely when you're a monster. Shelley makes us look at the inhuman aspects of ourselves. When what we create gets out of hand isn't it still our fault? ( )
  dbsovereign | Jan 26, 2016 |
A classic "ghost" story. Victor Frankenstein pursues science to its logical extreme to create life, and he is immediately horrified at his own success. The monster, however, is intelligent and resourceful and comes to understand his own loneliness and therefore seeks revenge on his creator. There are many unexplained occurences (How'd the monster find the ship? or get Henry Clerval's body onto the very shore that Frankenstein would wind up on?) especially for today's more savvy reader, but it's still a masterpiece.

UPDATE October 5, 2012
Simon Vance does a superb job narrating the audio (for Tantor Unabridged Classics). My heart breaks for the monster as he relates his loneliness and despair. Of course, I do not condone his way of trying to fix his condition! ( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 20, 2016 |
Victor Frankenstein has lived a charmed life. When he leaves behind Geneva for the colleges of Ingolstodt and his study of the natural sciences he is excited and gifted. Before three years are out he has surpassed all his teachers have to teach him and endeavors to discover the secret of life. To this end he creates for himself a man, cobbled together from the bits and pieces of cadavers. Yet his great success will also prove to be his demise.

An epistolary novel, we learn this story as Frankenstein tells it to Robert Walton, a ship's captain on a voyage of discovery as Walton records it in letters to be sent back to England for his sister. I was pleasantly surprised by this novel. Normally Gothic novels and horror don't work for me, but in this case, I found it quite enjoyable. I do think that it suffers a bit from the fact that everyone already knows this story. If I had been reading it for the first time shortly after publication I think I would have enjoyed it more. I am not disappointed that I finally read this book and will definitely explore more by Mary Shelley. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
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Apart from the text of the novel, this edition includes more than 150 pages of additional material as follows: Introduction --
Chronology of Mary Shelley's life and work --
Historical context of Frankenstein --
Interpretive notes --
Critical excerpts --
Questions for discussion --
Suggestions for the Interested reader.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0743487583, Mass Market Paperback)

Frankenstein, loved by many decades of readers and praised by such eminent literary critics as Harold Bloom, seems hardly to need a recommendation. If you haven't read it recently, though, you may not remember the sweeping force of the prose, the grotesque, surreal imagery, and the multilayered doppelgänger themes of Mary Shelley's masterpiece. As fantasy writer Jane Yolen writes of this (the reviewer's favorite) edition, "The strong black and whites of the main text [illustrations] are dark and brooding, with unremitting shadows and stark contrasts. But the central conversation with the monster--who owes nothing to the overused movie image … but is rather the novel's charnel-house composite--is where [Barry] Moser's illustrations show their greatest power ... The viewer can all but smell the powerful stench of the monster's breath as its words spill out across the page. Strong book-making for one of the world's strongest and most remarkable books." Includes an illuminating afterword by Joyce Carol Oates.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:07 -0400)

(see all 8 descriptions)

Victor Frankenstein has discovered the secret of generating life from lifeless matter, and has created a monster being by using this terrible power.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141439475, 0141024445

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