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Title – Frankenstein

Author – Mary Shelley

Type – Fiction / Gothic

Reading Prompt – #16 – A book published before the author turned 25

Despite being a student of English Literature, I have never read Frankenstein. However, the mind-boggling prompts for Readers Forever allowed me to make amends for what I consider an unforgivable lapse in my reading journey.

Mary Shelley was around twenty when the Gothic-meets-SciFi novel was published. The protagonist Victor Frankenstein is a knowledge-hungry genius whose never-ending curiosity leads him to create a monster. But things go downhill when the giant turns evil and kills people close to its creator. Is the man able to stop the daemon in its rampage? 

The prose is exquisite. The narrative demands the reader to pause and soak in its beauty. Mary has peppered the novel with references to classics like Milton’s Paradise Lost, Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, and references from her husband’s poetry. Memories of classes from Calcutta University came gushing in, where I spent hours in the library, taking notes.

It was a refreshing experience to read a book unsullied by modern cuss words. I know language evolves, but I missed the prim-and-proper language with which I was once familiar. 

The novel begins with letters from Robert Walton to his sister. On an expedition, he comes across the eponymous character Frankenstein who shares his story and introduces characters like Elizabeth, Clerval, and the dreaded daemon. 

Mary offers us a glimpse of the monster’s viewpoint through his story. It is poignant and raises pertinent questions about the vices of humans. Like its creator, the daemon is endowed with exceptional intelligence and soon learns the intricacies of language, geography and emotions. However, it could not comprehend the selfishness and the two-faced nature of human beings. That stirs in it envy and destruction, which spiral out of control. 

Here are some examples of a few memorable lines – 

Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so vicious and base? 

You are my creator, but I am your master; obey! 

I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel!

I recommend this book to all. Even readers unfamiliar with the works of Milton and Shelley can understand the gist. The topic is universal. A hideous monster may not be accurate in the present era, but the perils of technology overdose are. It’s up to us to let it remain a boon and not to convert it into a beast, leading us to our destruction. 

Frankenstein will stay with me. 

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