Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is one of my all time favorite books and has been used and reused as one of the classic monster stories but its original version by Mary Shelly is very different than its derivatives.
The story idea came from a competition between some of the best romantic writers Percy Shelly- Mary’s future husband, Lord Byron-original bisexual bad boy, their doctor who really didn’t have a chance, John Polidri and then Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin who was only eighteen years old at the time.
Think of them like the four best friends anyone could have, spring breaking it up near lake Geneva sitting next to the fire and daring each other to tell a better horror story. That’s how brilliant writers do spring break, with lots of drugs, alcohol and writing classic novels that have been in print since 1818.
Mary, Percy and Byron were huge parts in the Romantic Era which I like to think of like the first hippie movement. Everyone was questioning everything. Mary’s mom, Mary Wolstonecraft, was a vital part of one of the first feminist movements and her father, William Godwin was a political philosopher and one of the first promoters of utilitarianism and anarchism.
Mary was exposed to all this knowledge philosophy and literature with big names dropping by to talk to her dad all the time. But when everything is being questioned it leaves for a very unstable upbringing.
So what does this have to do with Frankenstein, well while the book centers around a monster, sewn together with the parts of bodies dug up in the middle of the night and then jolted to life with the spark of life considered to be connected to galvanism- a new science at the time that used electricity to animate corpses, the real horror was being an outcasted by a creator.