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October 26, 2018


#RIPXIII Classic: Frankenstein

by N@ncy


Author: Mary Shelley
Title: Frankenstein
Published: 1818



Shelley uses the classic ‘ 3 act’ structure.
introduction characters and location — conflict — resolution of problem.
Weak point: the re-birth of the ‘fiend’ and
…his discovery of nature, his senses and language.
33 sentences recording the creature’s every movement and or thought. (part 2, pg107).
I just lost interest.
The constant use of “the first person” narrative was numbing.
Deja-vu: death scene page 180 is exactly the same as
…episode #1.1 UK detective series “Broadchurch”.


Audio book:

I read the book while listening to the audio version.
I wanted the full experience.
Narrator: Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey) is excellent as Victor Frankenstein.
Unfortunately the voice of ‘the creature, the fiend’ sounded
….like he was constantly on the verge of tears.
…not threatening enough.


Gothic: Frankenstein is an example of this genre.

The Gothic tradition rejected reason, clarity and rational thinking.
It focused heavily on imagination, emotion and extreme passion.
Themes: death (10 people die in the book!), decay, terror, confinement, entrapment.
Main character: (Victor) feels trapped in his own guilt….while shouting for relief and help.
Antagonist (grotesque creature) is confused and isolated.


Literary device: epistolary technique

Letters reveal back round and gives Shelley means to logically end the story.
Letters are a portrait of the soul, confession, mask.
Letters connotate privacy and intimacy.
Letters are used as a ‘frame story‘ (mise-en-abyme) – story within a story.



Shelley is not as skillful in this area. The book is filled with generic descriptions (snow capped mountains, dashing waterfalls,) and she fails to use color to paint a picture of the sun (mentioned 45x), moon (21x) and stars (12x). Shelley’s favorite colors promote the gothic mood of darkness (black 17x) and light (white 11x)



I could only find one symbol.
Ice (mentioned 41x) – represents Victor’s fate.
The creature leaves him a message:
“Follow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north,
…where you will feel the misery of cold and frost…”



I was not impressed with this novel.
It does have its lyrical moments…..but lacked gravitas.
Weak point: too much dull, stolid repetition of same words
…instead of lively, fleet narration.
repetitive: fiend (33x), guilt/guilty/guilt-ridden (27x), abhor (17x) and I/he/she/it found (89x)
Weak point:
Shelley describes nature, moon, stars, sun (sun,sunshine,sunset 60x)
…mist, storms, Mont Blanc, glaciers, sea, waves
…lakes, rocks, wind, Alps, Valley Chamounix… etc ad nausem.
Pages and pages with descriptions of wanderings
… of Victor and the creature.
It feels like ‘book-stuffing.
It just gets to be a bit too much. (Pages 94 – 103 are examples)
Strong point: This book is an amazing achievement
…for a young 19 year old woman, non-writer, failed poet in 19th C literary scene.
If you want a great gothic….read Dracula and leave this one on the shelf.

Read more from Classic, fiction, horror
8 Comments Post a comment
  1. Oct 26 2018

    I agree Nancy – I enjoyed the story well enough but it’s not particularly memorable and not my preferred style of writing. It reminded me of my reaction to Wuthering Heights – unrealistic feelings & passion that felt rather juvenile.
    I’ll probably give it 3 stars.


    • Oct 26 2018

      Sometimes I feel I am too critical….but in this case the writing
      was way below par for a Gothic classic.
      Well, at least we can say we read the #CCdare book on our shelf.
      Now on to bigger and better things!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. cleoclassicalcarousel
    Oct 27 2018

    I didn’t notice that about the descriptions but I don’t think I was expecting a “tour de force” from this one. If you have time, please take a look at my review. In spite of certain weak moments, I thought Shelley brought up some fascinating questions that were not only pertinent to her time but ours as well. And for a 19 year old, as you say, it was pretty amazing!


    • Oct 27 2018

      I will have a look at your review!
      Glad to discover other aspects of this story.
      I concentrated on the ‘writing skills’! 🙂


  3. liviepearl
    Oct 31 2018

    I was appalled by the writing as well. I understand she was 19, but I thought that since this was a classic, the writing would be high quality.

    And as to the “depth” people mention, I think that we’ve added all that through the ages. I don’t see depth, I see inconsistent plot points. And for there to be depth, I think irony is needed in Frankenstein’s portrayal, and I think this is very much without that.


    • Oct 31 2018

      Thanks for making me feel that I’m not being too
      critical of a classic.
      It was just appalling writing….



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