Thursday, November 4, 2010

[Book] Frankenstein

Title : Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus
Author : Mary Shelley
Publisher : Wordsworth Edition
Tebal : xxvi + 182 halaman
Price : Rp 27.000,-
ISBN : 978-1-85326-023-0

I know science has an important part of human kind civilization. Thanks to science which is always progressing, many uncurable diseases before have now their cures. Of course, science is not limited to medication only, but it has wide range area. Including creating a monster with horrible form, at least this is according to Mary Shelley.

Victor Frankenstein is an obsessive man of science, particularly chemistry. He was also attracted to structure of the human frame. He often asked himself:

Whence did the principle of life proceed? (page 41)

Thus, he ardently tried to find the answer. According to him "to examine the causes of life, we must first have recourse to death", therefore he acquainted himself to one of branches of natural science which is anatomy. He must learn human body, but only knowing human's structure is not enough. He thought he had to observe the natural decay of human body. So, he beheld a fine form of human was naturally decaying. He examined and analysed the change from life to death, and death to life, until he found a secret of life.

After years of painful working on research, finally he made a discovery. He created a life creature. A human being in monstrous form with a horrid face and a big body but its joint was supple. Yet, the creature breathes. He lives, eats, and talks. He even has a conscience and rational thinking. Too bad for Victor abandoned his "child" just like that and left him in agony. Victor left the creature because he scared of his wretched form.

The creature had to find his own way after abandoned by his "father". He travelled from city to city, scoured from forest to forest. He was on his journey to find a haven. He needed to find comfort and safety in this pitiless world.

He knew this task was not easy. Every human being who apparently met him would faint, scream, or even shot him. Every human was afraid of him. But, finally he found a hovel for him to rest. In that hovel he knew the De Lacey family whom indirectly taught him compassion, love, and passion. De Lacey family made him believed that he would be accepted by human with an open arms. But, this family also that in the end turned the creature from "good" to "bad".

After reading Frankenstein, I reminded myself of John Locke's tabula rasa. Basically human was neither good nor bad, but experience itself that transforms what kind of human he will be. Just like the creature. He was born like a clean paper sheet. He didn't know what was good or bad. Through his experiences with the De Lacey family, he learnt value of life. But, through dejection, detestation, and rejection by people, including Victor Frankenstein, the De Lacey family, and others that made him anguished and sought revenge to all human being.

From this book I realised that we still judge a book from its cover. At first meeting, people judge from appearance. I, myself, if about to happen to meet the creature would pass myself out. Or scream. Or run and look for a help to kill the creature. Who cares about his good personality? Who cares if he is longing for love and companionship? All we care is the creature is a ghastly brute. He is bad, therefore he doesn't deserve a pity.

Before reading this book, I thought Frankenstein was the name of the monster and he was the antagonist. Well, I guess I was wrong at one thing, but I was right at the other thing. Frankenstein isn't the creature's name. It was the name of its creator, Victor Frankenstein. But, surely Frankenstein is the antagonist. He is irresponsible for what he has done. According to DR Siv Jansson from publisher's introduction:

Having created life, he (Frankenstein) failed in the most important part of the creative process, the nurturing and educating of his creation, and the acknowledgement of responsibility for it. (page xiv)

Because of his ignorant and rejection to the creature, he created a true monster which was evil and killed his beloved ones. Victor was also a self-centred man. He looked every thing from his point of view. He was selfish. No wonder this led him to his own numerous of woes.

From 1 - 5, I gave 4 for Frankenstein.


  1. This is a horrific side of science when we abuse it. Science which is supposed to improve the life of humanity backfires on us! That's the most terrible thing that one can ever imagine! Though this Mary Shelley's work is just a fiction, it somehow somewhat shows the truth behind the adverse effect of science abuse! The closest to us is the 'genetically modified (GM)food' which produces food with concealed odd properties which are unknown before, that's why the anti GM food activists and the press call such food "Frankenfood" which I believe it is inspired by the story of Frankenstein above.

  2. @ Yari NK
    Thank you, Sir! You remind me what I'm trying to say (but I forgot to write it down). You're right, there is always an adverse effect of science if we're not wise in using/doing it.


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