2010 09 09 On Keeping Pace Maintaining Momentum in Fiction

Victor merely says, “It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.” That is just about all that Shelley writes of the conception of Victor’s living being. Even the later killings by the monster are not described in detail; they are usually related in retrospect.


Thus, a reader who is expecting to read a shocking and horrific story of the creation of a hideous monster and its murderous rampages will be sorely disappointed. However, that expectation comes from the horror films about Franken-stein’s monster and not from any realistic prospects about the book itself. The initial power of the novel comes, in part, from the idea of creating a hideous monster and challenging God about life itself, but the novel’s staying power comes mainly from the issues raised by Shelley in her work and the manner in which Shelley handles them.


In the almost 200 years since Mary Shelley’s novel was first published, literary critics and academicians have ascribed many themes to the book, including parental responsibility, homosexuality, incest, feminism and loss of identity.