Book Club: Frankenstein


Hi everybody, I hope you're having a wonderful week and getting pumped for Halloween! Sorry I'm late posting these discussion questions, we had a busy weekend with friends in town and the Halloween party. We pushed our meeting up this month so our virtual book club member, Kelly, was able to join the discussion while she was in town.

So-what'd you think? Every time we have a discussion I ask how everyone would rate the book on a scale of 1-10 and take note of the group average. Last month's book (TKAM) yielded a 8.2 average from the group. Unfortunately, this one landed at 5.7. I think a lot of it had to do with the older style of writing which does slow the reader down a bit however, I felt that the quality of our discussion was much better than the one we had for TKAM. This book has so many interesting discussion points focused around the humanity of the "monster." I have such a hard time calling the creation a "monster" when I myself would have been motivated to do some of the things he did, had I been put in his situation. Some of the main questions I'd like to pose to the reader are as follows: 

  • Who is the  real villain of the story?
  •  Did Frankenstein deserve what happened to him and his friends/family?
  • Was the "monster" right in his actions?

Discussion/ Discussion Points

I personally love this book. I feel like the tale of Frankenstein has gotten so skewed over the years by movies and cartoons that people don't really know the story. Everybody makes Frankenstein's creature out to be a monster in movies and stories but really, Dr. Frankenstein is the one you should resent, the real villain. He never fully thought about his actions or how they would affect others. As soon as he saw his creation, he fled like a dead beat dad. Would you flee a baby? No. What makes this creation so different?  What makes Frankenstein think this is acceptable?

The creation did not ask to be made, to become alive. He was the product of Dr. Frankenstein's obsession with animating inert matter. However, he was not simply animated matter, he was "born." He became a person with feelings, emotions,  and needs. These things are not necessarily learned but innate in all of us.

There's only a few movies that ever portrayed the creation as he should have been. VanHelsing in particular. The actor who played the monster in VanHelsing was commended for the emotion that he was able to portray-no easy feat in all of the makeup and prosthetics. You sympathize with the creation when he's asked "What do you want?!" and his response was "To live..." The creation is human.

Frankenstein could have made his creation less horrifying in the first place, enabling him to lead a relatively normal life-but he did not. The creation's appearance alone put him at such a disadvantage that he began to act like the monster that people expected him to be. Unfortunately, the world is a vain and petty place. Why do we associate ugliness with evil? I saw something a long time ago that asked, "If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?" It's a good question to ask yourself. There's so much more to life than how you look. I've known plenty of less-than-gorgeous people in my life and they've been some of the kindest. Maya Angelou once said, "People will forget what you said. People will forget what you did. But people will never forget how you made them feel." 

Frankenstein's creation was able to overcome extreme difficulties, entirely on his own. Even though it's far-fetched that he would be able do this on his own and in such a short amount of time, take it with a grain of salt and give the creation some credit. He was able to learn about nourishment, shelter, and even language without direct help from anyone. This is an incredible feat. He tried to assimilate. He tried to have people understand. He was not to blame for what he became. People, and that's what he was, a person, can only withstand abuse for so long before they crack.

When Frankenstein refuses to make a partner for his creation, he talks about the fear he has that they might reproduce or that she might not like her partner, run off and do more damage, or even worse, that they both run riot togther. There were solutions to all of these fears: make his second creation without ovaries so they can't reproduce (would it have even been possible anyway?). If his second creation turned out to be a murderess and a lunatic, the monster could have been forced to agree to eliminate her. The other solution would have been to fix his first creation's appearance so that he might have some hope at a normal existence in the world. None of these solutions were brought to the table as productive suggestions and instead, Frankenstein hides behind this false heroic attitude that he's doing the world a favor by leaving the situation as it was. In my opinion, Frankenstein deserved far worse than what happened to him, it's only his family and friends that suffered.

What are your thoughts? This is one of my favorite books to discuss, tell me everything! Thanks for reading LDers! 

Up next, "Let's Pretend This Never Happened" by Jenny Lawson. This is one of Kelly's picks. 

FYI, we all wrote down 5 books we'd like to read as part of the group, put them on a slip of paper and put them in a bowl. At any given time, we will have the next two books chosen so people can read ahead if they wish. READ WITH US!

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