2010 09 11 On in Conversation Kim Stanley Robinson and Robert Silverberg

The creature responds that if Victor does not do so, “I will revenge my injuries; if I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear; and chiefly towards you my arch- enemy, because my creator, do I swear inextinguishable hatred.” Thus, Victor is punished, not for discovering the secret of life but rather, for mistreating his creation, thus undercutting the theme of the modern Prometheus.


In the prologue to the film The Bride of Frankenstein (1935), a fictional Mary Shelley says, in response to a comment that her book will never be published because it is too shocking, “The publishers did not see that my purpose was to write a moral lesson—the punishment that befell a mortal man who dared to emulate God.” In fact, though, while that is a theme of the book, in the context of the entire work, it is a minor theme.



The more important theme of Frankenstein, which is also explored from time to time in the movie versions, is man’s inhumanity to someone different from him and the effect of that display of inhumanity on the innocent victim. If the reader believes the monster’s story of his early life, the creature was born or created as a blank slate, with the capacity to be a loving, feeling and positive reflection of mankind.