By now, most people are familiar with Mary Shelley’s much-acclaimed novel, Frankenstein, or at least one of the many television series, movies, and variety of characters which it has inspired. A young scientist decided to play god and re-animate dead tissue, resulting in a violent, homicidal creature. Yes, trying to corpses back to life is not a good idea and should definitely be avoided. But is that actually the moral of the story? I don’t think so. In fact, I have an alternate theory: Frankenstein is about the perilous consequences of being a deadbeat dad. Don’t believe me? I’ll prove it!
Victor Frankenstein, who had always shown a very high aptitude for chemistry and natural sciences, became obsessed with death at a young age, when his mother died. After many years of covert experimentation, bits and pieces of various corpses, and his fixation with bringing the dead back to life, his advanced, prodigious study of various sciences reaches its natural climax when he successfully reanimates an entire person. Yay! Right? Wrong! Victor promptly runs from his son, wholly disgusted and afraid of his hideous appearance, and when the Creature disappears from his laboratory (presumably in search of him?), Victor doesn’t bother looking for him, so happy is he to be free of his parental responsibilities. He goes on to live his best life, telling absolutely no one about his first born and acting as childfree as he wanna be. Pathetic.
The Creature then proceeds to have a series of traumatic encounters with other people, who are just as fearful of him due to his shocking countenance. Though (no thanks to his daddy), the Creature learned to speak and was intelligent enough to teach himself to read, he was routinely rejected and despised by people, all of whome he killed as a consequence of this painful rejection, which followed the example of his absentee father. One of the Creature’s victims is Victor’s own brother, William, and (by proxy), his nanny, Justine, who is framed, accused of the murder, and hung. Though he suspects that the true murderer is his neglected creation, Victor does absolutely nothing to try to save Justine, presumably because no one will believe, but more likely because he didn’t want to assume responsibility. Trifling.
Following this, Victor’s creation finds him, tells him of the rejected, lonely, painful existence of his early months, and demands that his creator make him a life partner, a woman like him who will be his companion. Victor agrees, under duress, since his Creature has promised to continue killing his family and friends if he fails to do this. Like most deadbeat dads, Victor couldn’t keep a promise to his kid if his life depended on it, and though he initially begins work on the companion creature, he is convinced that his original creation is evil and not only fears that the companion will be as well, but that the two will breed a race of evil, grotesque abominations. So he reneges and tears apart the new creation before it has been completed.
His Creature, seeing all of this, doesn’t harm Victor, but confronts him, and promises to be with him on his wedding night. Because he didn’t stick around long enough to actually get to know his own son, not to mention the fact that he’s wildly self-centered, Victor misinterprets this as a threat against his own safety. The Creature murders Victor’s best friend, Henry Clerval, and frames Victor for this murder, for which he is later acquitted and, on Victor’s wedding night, while our mad scientist is too busy trying to protect himself, his creation murders his bride.
While Victor ultimately takes personal responsibility for his creations crimes, he is adamant from beginning to end that his creation is inherently evil, never once thinking that his cruelty and neglect towards the Creature, one which was mirrored by every being that he ever came into contact with, was the reason why his copy/paste progeny had such deep-seated anger issues. Victor never considered the possibility that being so grotesque, unloved, and abandoned in such a cruel world could have had a negative impact on his (deeply intelligent and sensitive) creation’s psyche. So callous and heartless is Victor that he doesn’t even give the Creature a name. Though often used to refer to his creation, Frankenstein is named after the self-absorbed scientist himself.
There is a lot to learn from Frankenstein: the importance honesty, respect for nature, and accountability. But the greatest lesson from this piece of classic literature is that parents are responsible for their children, for giving those children love and guidance, and it is never okay to abandon your kids, no matter how ugly they are.
I give this one 5 stars.