“Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus”
by Mary Shelley
Read by Simon Vance
Produced by Tantor Media, 2008
Approx 8.5 hours
Once again I get to revisit a classic. I’ve read this book several times but this is the first time I’ve listened on audiobook. Simon Vance does a first rate job of reading this story. His vocal characterizations are spot on in every aspect I ever heard in my head while reading the story. I think I may have found my new favorite audiobook voice.
Each time I read this book I get something new out of it. That’s what happens when the books are well thought out, and I’m guessing that’s one thing that makes them a classic. This time around the theme of loneliness seemed to stick out with me. Victor Frankenstein does not create the “creature” out of loneliness but the struggle from that point for the monster is loneliness.
The story is told through a few viewpoints, first through a series of letters from Captain Walton, who spots the creature on the ice in the north and then rescues Dr. Frankenstein from the same icy waters, to his sister Margaret. Then through Victor Frankenstein telling the Captain his tale, then through the creature telling his story to his creator, back to Frankenstein and back to Walton as a close. A very unique storytelling format that not only works but definitely keeps the reader/listener attentive.
The loneliness aspect really comes out when the creature is telling his story to his creator, Victor Frankenstein. The creature is abandoned by Frankenstein after Frankenstein is disgusted by the final outcome, Frankenstein simply flees, leaving the newborn creature alone and confused. The creature explores the world through a forest after it escapes and learns he is hideous when people run away from him in terror. Frankenstein used various body parts to create the creature, I refuse to call him a monster, with the intent to make him larger than humans around eight feet tall. The skin of the creature is yellowish with some transparency. So as you can see from the description he would be a bit scary. But he’s only misunderstood.
Being abhorred by mankind, the creature sets off to be alone. But along the way he finds shelter in a cubby hole attached to a family dwelling. Over a long period of time the creature observes the family and learns that humans are actually loving caring beings. He learns over the time to speak the language and even read. He then begins to long for the family’s companionship but when trying to meet the blind father the son and daughter walk in and are horrified by his appearance and chase him away.
The creature then runs off to Geneva, home of Frankenstein, and finds a young boy, who is young enough to not be influenced by the mores of the public and can learn to be friends without thinking the creature is something to fear. The boy as it turns out is afraid but to make matters worse he is the younger brother of Victor Frankenstein. The creature is agitated by the boy’s fear but becomes angered and vengeful when he realizes this is something he can take away from Frankenstein.
When Frankenstein returns for the funeral of young William, the creature begins stalking him. Frankenstein is then captured by the creature and the creature then states that he wishes Frankenstein to build another creature as a mate. With no more loneliness the creature promises to move to where no man lives and live out his life with his bride. Frankenstein is horrified by the thought of creating another horror and refuses. The creature then begins to kill all those around Frankenstein making the doctor feel some of the creatures loneliness. From there the hunt is on for Frankenstein to destroy his creature, which leads to the frozen North Sea and the where the book began with the ship picking up Dr. Frankenstein.
All the creature wants is a friend.