2011 08 18 Short Story Competitions Sep Oct Nov 2011

The moments in the hermit’s hut and the later creation of the mate and her reaction to the creature are the key scenes in the film, raising Bride of Frankenstein above the limits of the usual horror film and into the upper echelons of cinema classics. This scene in the blind hermit’s hut is clearly inspired by the time that Mary Shelley’s monster spends in the hovel outside the cottage of Felix and Agatha and their father, De Lacey. The father, who is blind, plays the guitar just as the film blind man plays the violin. The creature of the novel learns to speak by overhearing the lessons given to the foreigner, Safie, at the blind man’s cottage. The monster of the film learns to speak by the direct lessons from the hermit. In the book, the creature hopes to introduce himself into society by becoming a friend of De Lacey’s, who cannot see his face.


Whatever small progress he makes is terminated by the return of the children and their reaction to the hideousness of the monster. In the film, it is two hunters who disrupt the idyllic setting of the hermit’s hut and eliminate the creature’s few days of happiness. The sequence in the blind hermit’s hut is the most explicit evocation of the novel’s theme of man’s inhumanity to those who are different, showing that the monster, when treated with kindness and friendship, had the capacity to become more like a man than a monster. It works in conjunction with the scene with Maria in the first film and the creature’s later attempt to establish some rapport with the mate that Frankenstein creates for him. (The insertion of an abnormal brain into the monster’s cranium is conveniently forgotten in Bride of Frankenstein .) The monster of the novel talks incessantly about his character and how it was adversely affected by the reactions of those who meet him. The two Universal films make the same point, without talk, but by example. Indeed, the idea of having the monster talk in Bride of Frankenstein clearly comes from the novel. The creature of the book learns to speak and, for that matter to read, while listening to the lessons that the blind man gives to Safie.


De Lacey is such a good teacher that the monster eventually reads books like Paradise Lost by John Milton and Plutarch’s Lives. As he relates the story of his life to Victor Frankenstein, his dialogue is laced with words such as benevolence, patriarchal, omnipotent and augmented. Perhaps there is another unspoken theme to Mary Shelley’s novel—the benefits of home schooling. While the creature of Bride of Frankenstein never comes close to the level of speech of the monster of the novel, he is at least able to convey his understanding of good and bad and the need for a mate. The theme of the modern Prometheus is barely touched on in this sequel, essentially limited to an early discussion between Henry and Elizabeth after Henry recovers from his injuries at the hands of the monster. He says, “I’ve been cursed for delving into the mysteries of life…. I dreamed of being the first to give to the world the secret that God is so jealous of.”