On the whole, I was very excited when asked if I wanted to read Frankenstein again, in order to try and support April’s A-Level reading. Funnily enough, I first began the novel whilst I was studying for my own A-Levels, but it wasn’t part of my curriculum. I enjoyed it so much the first time around that I read it again in 2011, and last week I jumped at the chance to become reacquainted with the novel.
To my delight, I found that I remembered an awful lot of the story, even with regard to the names and traits of the minor characters and the different narrative voices used throughout the novel. In that respect, I believe that this is one of the most memorable books – and stories, for that matter – which I have ever read.
I find with each re-read that the different narrative voices which Shelley makes use of are engaging, and I love the way in which the first person perspective has been used throughout. This adds to the story immensely, and means that we as readers can see the story from both sides – Frankenstein’s and his monster’s – as well as those affected by the trouble which is caused as a result of his creation. It felt as though a lot of empathy and understanding had been built up on behalf of both parties. Another element of the story, which is one of its definite strengths for me, is the way in which Shelley writes so believably from a male perspective. She really does portray a wide and far-reaching understanding of the human psyche, and the wealth of emotions which she captures on the page are wonderfully realised.
I love epistolatory novels, and this is the first which I remember really enjoying. Whilst the novel is not told entirely through the medium of letters, they do provide rather a comfortable backbone to the story, and they set the tone and scenes marvellously. The turns of phrase which Shelley weaves in are lovely, and her sentences are beautifully crafted.
“I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”
Her descriptions too are written with such deftness. These elements serve only to make a lot of other books, even those from the same period, seem rather bland in comparison. I love old literature, and am far more at home with a Bronte or Wilde story in my hand than with anything remotely postmodern, so personally I found the story quite an easy one to get into. The delicious language sets each and every scene perfectly, and I adore the nightmare-like feel which the passages have, particularly around the time at which the monster is created. I also love the references to poetry throughout. To conclude, Frankenstein is a marvellous novel, and its status as a literary classic is certainly well-deserved from this reviewer’s perspective.