Frankenstein by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Review



A couple weeks ago I was browsing free ebooks on my phone and landed on Frankenstein. Although I’ve obviously heard of Frankenstein I have never read it nor did I think I would want to read it, since the premise of the novel did not seem to my great interest. But I can affirm that I was surprisingly  mistaken and I am happy I gave this one a chance.

Some Details

Author: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Original title: Frankenstein or, The Modern Prometheus

Published: January 1, 1818 (this edition: March 8, 2018)

Publication house: Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones. (this edition: Penguin Classics)

Pages: 288

Genres: Classics, Fiction, Horror, Science Fiction, Gothic, Fantasy, Literature


Mary Shelley began writing Frankenstein when she was only eighteen. At once a Gothic thriller, a passionate romance, and a cautionary tale about the dangers of science, Frankenstein tells the story of committed science student Victor Frankenstein. Obsessed with discovering the cause of generation and life and bestowing animation upon lifeless matter, Frankenstein assembles a human being from stolen body parts but; upon bringing it to life, he recoils in horror at the creature’s hideousness. Tormented by isolation and loneliness, the once-innocent creature turns to evil and unleashes a campaign of murderous revenge against his creator, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein, an instant bestseller and an important ancestor of both the horror and science fiction genres, not only tells a terrifying story, but also raises profound, disturbing questions about the very nature of life and the place of humankind within the cosmos: What does it mean to be human? What responsibilities do we have to each other? How far can we go in tampering with Nature? In our age, filled with news of organ donation genetic engineering, and bio-terrorism, these questions are more relevant than ever. – Goodreads

First Sentence

“You will have fun to pay attention that no disaster has observed the graduation of an employer which you have seemed with such evil forebodings.”

Some Thoughts

Where to begin? I had no idea I’d enjoy Sci-Fi as much as I did! Frankenstein is gruesome, appalling, and very grotesque but I loved it all the same. The story is very fluid and I never caught myself getting bored or tired of reading it. I was pretty much hooked t’ill the last page.

The setting was something that really hooked me. The imagery was so ominous and reminded me of the vibe that the abandoned farm near my house gives off. Naturally I went over into that field to read Frankenstein to enhance my experience and I took many SpOokY pictures because the weather was very fitting. Please find attached my spooky Frankenstein themed photo gallery (taken with an added green lens!)

“There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

What was really interesting for me while reading Frankenstein was trying to decode what several elements in the story symbolized or alluded to. This is a novel that is highly studied academically so I figured there might be many easter eggs to decode throughout the play of the story. I’ve concluded the following:

  • There seems to be a play on light throughout the novel that symbolizes enlightenment and knowledge. Frankenstein is trying to reach scientific discovery, to reach the light; in an otherwise dark and answerless world
  • Frankenstein’s creation is often referred to as “Adam” of “the Adam of my labours,” this seems to be an allusion to the bible, since God created humankind to his image, seemingly Frankenstein has done the same for the monster, who is the image of himself.
  • Walton’s Arctic quest symbolizes exploration and discovery. Walton and Frankenstein share the common ambition to attain or develop immortality, albeit their means to immortality differ since Frankenstein hopes to create an immortal being and Walton hopes to attain immortality by exploring the North Pole.
  • I also noticed many passages that alluded to some of Shakespeare’s works such as Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet, as well as some references to Paradise Lost but I did not bookmark the pages (whoops!) I am sure that this intricately composed novel holds many more allusions that just don’t meet my eye too.

There is also the underlying allusion of the entire novel that ties it to it’s author Mary Shelley. As her birth was the result of her mother’s death, she too has been abandoned by her creator as Frankenstein abandoned his creation. Looking further into Shelley’s life, I’ve noticed that her husband might of been unfaithful and that she had lost her first child after birth. Shelley has dealt with loss and deceptive people. Much like the monster Shelley has become miserable and lonely.  Frankenstein’s monster was not born evil, evil was acquired to him through abandon and misery. Should he of been loved, should he of been treated like a human, perhaps he would not of committed such heinous crimes. In my opinion, Frankenstein is not merely a story but a self-portrait by Shelley, which made the read so much more captivating to me.

“I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

The Wrap Up

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a wonderful work of science fiction and a transformative read. Making sense of the symbolism and allusions of this novel has greatened my appreciation of Shelley’s writing. Should I do more digging, I’m sure I will find many other elements in Shelley’s life and Frankenstein that correlate to another. This classic is one that I would be excited and thrilled to study academically because the novel’s themes are so interesting to me. Solid five stars; plus I’ve scored many great lines from this novel to add to my Quotes page!

“Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.”
― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein