Photo courtesy of Artist Terry Stewart
How many times in our lives have we started a conversation over lunch just like the title of this story? Especially after 9-11 when our own fears of the unknown began to grip us in our homes and in our daily lives. And just like the monster. The creation NOT of Dr. Victor Frankenstein.. but of the intellectual mind of a woman… Mary Shelly. Who during the year 1817 created a monster of unknown science. A monster that we came to fear.
Shelley completed her writing of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, which was published on 1 January, 1818 by the small London publishing house Lackington, Hughes, Harding, Mavor, & Jones.
Shelly’s S.A.D. (Tongue in cheek….Seasonal Affected Disorder) was aggravated by what became known as the year without a summer. A bump in weather history that lasted from approximately 1816 to 1818 (plenty of time to write a scary novel). The reasons for this bad weather spell are too vast to be outlined in this article. But the least that one can say is that Mary Shelly’s S.A.D. (or at least all the extra time she had on her hands) had a huge impact on both the literary and cinematic world.
I don’t wish to quote movie lines or talk about cinematography. Nor do I wish to talk about the many writers, actors, actresses and movie companies that have created and recreated “The Monster” for the movie goer and readers alike. What I would like to talk about is how we as humans relate to the monster.
So… who is the monster? For horror fans, he is a bundle of different human parts. Retrieved from the bodies of the deceased. Dug from fresh graves, robbed from caskets and stolen from medical schools. He is a living nightmare of fear, misunderstanding and a creation of everything that God in heaven rejects and commands us not to do. He (the monster) is a sin.. an abomination.. One who walks outside of the light of man’s (and woman’s) good sense. He was already DEAD… and another man… Victor Frankenstein, intruded upon his eternal peace. When the good Doctor’s character (with the help of Mary Shelly) awoke the brain of the monster he awoke pain and sorrow.. memories both good and bad. Memories that we still see at play out today all around us.
In 2010 a group of Authors and Artists by the name of Chris Yambar, Frederick Wiebel and Robb Bihun created and published a graphic novel called Edison’s Frankenstein. Edison’s Frankenstein was based upon the very first film representation of Frankenstein which was produced by Thomas Edison, written and directed by J. Searle Dawley.
In their graphic novel, a copy of which I found at a comic book convention in Milwaukee Wisconsin a few years ago. The creators gave us a fresh and modern look at Edison’s Frankenstein. It also Made me look at both the monster and his creator very differently.
Who was Victor Frankenstein? We actually know very little about the Doctor. Certainly we know he was a medical doctor.. a very prominent socialite and possible honorable graduate and intellect. But his resume is not a prominent feature of his story. But what is prominent about the Doctor is that he is a driven man. He is egotistical, arrogant, deceitful, profane in the eyes of God and he will stop at nothing to finish his God like product.
He moves forward without thought, without feeling and without love. However in Edison’s Frankenstein, what we do learn, is a bit more about the Good Doctor. We learn, that much like his creation, he is a tortured and confused man. He is man who lashed out against all that he see’s. He contradicts modern science, he embarrasses his senior colleagues. He points his younger and uneducated finger of those who work in the realm of good ethics and common sense. Like his monster… Dr. Frankenstein is an abomination wrapped in the evil of sin against God himself.
Edison’s Frankenstein shows us that this particular man torn between his ego and his personal life. A man willing to sacrifice everything from the people that he purports to love to his own sanity to create something he can only regret in the final analysis of what he did.
The monsters is created in a steel box, a cold and unforgiving makeshift womb, a place of darkness which could only breed something unspeakable. Frankenstein is immediately sickened and filled with revulsion for his own creation. And as he watches his project emerge as a lump of flesh, growing, shaking and unstable. Victor Frankenstein see’s that his own imperfect creation is filled with hate… Hate for what Frankenstein has done to him. The doctor tries to reject his monster child.. But now he is stalked by this monster at every turn. The thing threatens to destroy his family, makes unreasonable demands and uses guilt and violence as a weapon of intimidation.
Frankenstein’s alter ego (1910 version public domain)
Frankenstein is stalked and confronted by his creation…Frankenstein is confronted by his own fear…. not the fear of ugliness and failure but the fear of being a better human being……….
Eventually Frankenstein’s monster / child creation insists upon a meeting and confronts him in his own home after terrorizing his wife. Frankenstein is placed in great fear of retribution. Then suddenly Frankenstein turns to a large mirror in his study as he sees the monster behind him.. when he comes to realize that the reflection is not that of the monster.. But it is only himself. As he and his creation become one and the monster fades from the mirror and Frankenstein see’s own image reflected back to him.. He becomes very intimately entwined with the monster.. Realizing that the only monster in the room is the one who he see’s in the mirror…. That being himself. It is the very moment when Dr. Frankenstein takes personal and deep responsibility for his sins. He emerges from his narcissistic condition into a new light…He laments to his creation, which is an intimate part of him.. An intimate broken relationship.
He admits that he is imperfect.
No longer will you be my scapegoat. No longer will you carry the cross fashioned for my shoulders. Allow my repentence to become your redemption and set you free from what I have made you. I beg your forgiveness, for you truely have mine ….. Humility and truth… GRACE AND PEACE. These are the rewards of trials won and, sometimes lost.
-Edisons Frankenstein 1910, Yambar, Bihun and Wiebel Jr.
Article by G. Stevens AKA Son of Forry A.