Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein nearly two hundred years ago, in the company of some of the greatest Romantic poets, who saw dangers in science’s abandonment of feelings. She expressed the danger as a horror story we still read or view today. We all know something of the story for aren’t we heirs to both science and Romanticism, to Frankenstein? Its horror is our horror, the monster is us.
Published in 1817 to mixed reviews, the novel today (Wikipedia says) ‘is generally considered to be a landmark work of romantic and gothic literature, as well as science fiction. In his 1981 non-fiction book Danse Macabre, author Stephen King … views the book as “a Shakespearean tragedy” and argues: “its classical unity is broken only by the author’s uncertainty as to where the fatal flaw lies—is it in Victor [Frankenstein]’s hubris (usurping a power that belongs only to God) or in his failure to take responsibility for his creation after endowing it with the life-spark?” Frankenstein discussed controversial topics and touched on religious ideas. Victor Frankenstein plays God when he creates a new being.‘ In Frankenstein we have heaven and hell. Well, hell at least. We may recognize the angel in us, but perhaps that’s another tale, another time. Nevertheless, even two centuries later, Frankenstein grips us.