Saturday, June 21, 2008

Deadbeat Dad

Man, is Victor Frankenstein a dick, or what? I mean, the more I read (and I've got about 75 pages left) the more I want the monster to do him some serious damage. Victor goes for a hike in the mountains, to escape his woes and thoughts of the monster, when who should he encounter...the monster! The monster tells him he needs to sit down and listen to his story or he'll rip Frankenstein's head off after killing all his family (or something like that). Frankenstein doesn't have to think about this for too long before agreeing. So the monster tells Frankenstein his story, which takes a few chapters. We learn the monster is quite intelligent, and has read Goethe and Milton (although he seems to believe that "Paradise Lost" is actual history). He's sensitive, and articulate, and doesn't like the fact that he's an outcast. He had tried to befriend a family in the country he had been spying on, and almost succeeds after approaching the blind father, but when the kids come back and see their dad with a monster, they naturally freak out and chase him away. Poor monster. In fact, the monster seems more human than Frankenstein. He's lonely, he's isolated, he's angry. Victor Frankenstein is all those things too, but in his case it's his own damn fault. In America today we'd call Victor Frankenstein a "deadbeat dad". He created a life, but then couldn't deal with it, and ran off. If only he'd stayed with the monster, and helped him find his way into society, all this wouldn't have happened. He should have "owned up" and showed some responsibility. Jerk. Anyway, the monster tells him he wants Frankenstein to make him a wife, or else he'll kill all his family and then rip Frankenstein's head off (or something like that). But if he does make him a wife, they'll go off to South America together and never bother anyone. Now THAT'S a great plot twist. I was not expecting that one. Frankenstein is not so excited about this idea, but he relents, having no other real option. He's being forced to "double down". We'll see where this goes, but it's clear it won't be good.

Incidentally, the narrative structure of this novel is quite interesting. "Bleak House" had the two narrators, and they were two entirely separate ones, with each having their own chapters. "Frankenstein" also has multiple narrators, but it's more like an onion skin, with layers upon layers. Robert Walton is telling the whole story, which is mostly of Frankenstein telling his story, but then Frankenstein is telling about the monster telling his own story, within which the monster is telling the story of the family in the woods he tried to befriend. Cool.


erik_flannestad said...

My favorite Blogging the Canon post so far!

The idea of Frankenstein as a "Deadbeat Dad" is hilarious.

Pacifist Viking said...

That's one of the things I thought about when reading the book, too. In popular conception, Frankenstein is bad because he is "playing God," trying to create a human being with science. But in the book, that's not the problem: the problem is he created something with science, and then was so terrified by the results, he refused to take responsibility and ran off.

I mean, think about how he abandons the "monster" (if I'm remembering correctly). He gives him life, then is scared, so he runs off from the lab and goes to bed. The newly born creature comes to his bed. Frankenstein gets scared and runs away, spending all night somewhere else. He gets back, the monster is gone...problem solved! He's gone--that's it. Now Frankenstein can just be melancholy about what he did, making no effort to seek out the creation that he is responsible for. He continually just runs away from his creation, taking no responsibility for it.

Robby Virus said...

Pacifist Viking: I agree totally! See my next post.