Thursday, October 20, 2016
Halloween Monsters: Frankenstein's Monster
Frakenstein's monster. Of all the Halloween-related monsters, this one is perhaps my favorite. Sounds crazy, right? Vampires, werewolves, ghosts, and now even zombies have become sexy. Though how you make rotting flesh and eating brains sexy is a question for another day.
Frankenstein, to a certain extent, is the grand-daddy of today's traditional Halloween monsters. The character was conceived by a woman--which is awesome. Mary Shelley wrote the book and published it anonymously in 1818. It was written as a bet between herself, her eventual husband Percy Shelley, Lord Byron, and John Polidori. The bet was to see who could come up with the most terrifying story. And, for originality, I would say Mary won it hands down.
In 1819, Polidori wrote The Vampyre - what is considered to be the literary precursor to all vampire books, including Bram Stoker's Dracula which wasn't published until 1879. But Polidori's book was still based on local folklore. Shelley's was purely from her own imagination. And what makes Shelley's book terrifying is the reality of the situation. While vampires are scary in their other-worldly powers, Frankenstein's monster is a tragic figure, born of modern science.
The real monster is Dr. Viktor Frankenstein himself. The "monster" created at the hands of Dr. Frankenstein, and then rejected outright by that man, is, in my opinion, someone to be pitied, helped, and loved. Granted, in the end the monster murders several people, but those acts are direct response to the life of cruelty he must endure alone. And the murders are acts of revenge against his creator.
While Mary Shelley does describe the monster--who is never given a name--as hideous, it wasn't until Boris Karlof's portrayal in the 1931 move Frankenstein, that the green skinned, flat headed monster with the bolts in his neck became the popular and iconic image. In my opinion, this image is part of why this monster hasn't transitioned in literature and movies the way his peers have.
Personally, I feel there is great potential here for this monster to find his place among the contemporary romantic heroes like vampires and werewolves. If you go back to the basic concept, this person is actually just a bunch of body parts from many different people, sewn together and then stimulated to bring it to life. The scars would be very much a part of who he is. But the original monster only wanted to be loved and accepted. He even asked for a female counterpart to be made so that he wouldn't be lonely.
So next time you think about writing a paranormal romance, consider taking on Frankenstein's monster - and give the poor man a name while you're at it. Even monsters need love.
“...once I falsely hoped to meet the beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding.” - Frankenstein's monster