Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus" is a classic novel that has captured the imaginations of readers for over two centuries. Often considered one of the first examples of science fiction, the novel tells the tragic story of Victor Frankenstein and the monster he creates. Despite its enduring popularity, there are still many questions that readers commonly ask about the story and its themes. In this article, we will address some of these frequently asked questions.

Q1: Who is the author of "Frankenstein"?

A1: "Frankenstein" was written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, an English author. She wrote the novel when she was only 18 years old, and it was published in 1818.

Q2: What is the full title of the novel?

A2: The full title of the novel is "Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus." The subtitle, "The Modern Prometheus," is a reference to the Greek myth of Prometheus, who stole fire from the gods to give to humanity.

Q3: Who is the protagonist of "Frankenstein"?

A3: The protagonist of the story is Victor Frankenstein, a young scientist who becomes obsessed with creating life through unorthodox means. His experiments lead to the creation of a monstrous being, with disastrous consequences for both Victor and his creation.

Q4: How does Victor create the monster?

A4: Victor Frankenstein creates the monster by assembling body parts from various sources, such as graveyards and slaughterhouses. He then uses a mysterious, unspecified process to imbue the creature with life.

Q5: Is the monster in "Frankenstein" named Frankenstein?

A5: No, the monster is not named Frankenstein. The name "Frankenstein" refers to the creator of the monster, Victor Frankenstein. The creature itself does not have a proper name, and is often referred to as "the monster," "the creature," or "the wretch."

Q6: Is the monster evil by nature?

A6: The monster is not inherently evil. He is initially innocent and seeks love, companionship, and understanding from his creator and other humans. However, due to his grotesque appearance and the rejection he experiences, he becomes bitter and angry, eventually seeking revenge on Victor Frankenstein for bringing him into a world that refuses to accept him.

Q7: What is the main theme of "Frankenstein"?

A7: "Frankenstein" has several themes, but one of the main themes is the danger of unchecked ambition and the potential consequences of playing with the natural order of life. Victor's obsession with creating life leads to tragic consequences for both himself and his creation. The novel also explores themes of isolation, the quest for knowledge, and the nature of humanity.

Q8: What is the significance of the Arctic setting at the beginning and end of the novel?

A8: The Arctic setting serves as a symbol of the characters' isolation, both physical and emotional. The harsh, desolate landscape mirrors the internal struggles of Victor Frankenstein and the monster. Additionally, the pursuit of the monster into the Arctic symbolizes Victor's unrelenting obsession with his creation, even at the cost of his own life.

Q9: How has "Frankenstein" influenced popular culture?

A9: "Frankenstein" has had a significant impact on popular culture, inspiring countless adaptations, sequels, and reinterpretations in literature, film, and other media. The story has also contributed to the popular image of the "mad scientist" and raised questions about the ethics of scientific discovery and experimentation.

Q10: Why is "Frankenstein" considered a classic?

A10: "Frankenstein" is considered a classic because it combines elements of Gothic horror, Romanticism, and early science fiction to create a thought-provoking and engaging story. The novel's themes continue to resonate with readers today, as they explore the human condition, the potential consequences of scientific advancement, and the nature of responsibility. Additionally, Mary Shelley's groundbreaking work has played a significant role in shaping the development of the science fiction genre, earning it a lasting place in the literary canon.

Q11: Is "Frankenstein" based on a true story?

A11: No, "Frankenstein" is a work of fiction. However, Mary Shelley was inspired by scientific advancements and debates of her time, particularly surrounding the possibility of reanimating dead tissue through electricity. The novel reflects these scientific discussions as well as Shelley's own imagination.

Q12: Who is Robert Walton?

A12: Robert Walton is a character in "Frankenstein" who serves as a framing device for the story. He is an explorer on a voyage to the North Pole, who rescues Victor Frankenstein from the icy waters. Victor then relates his tragic tale to Walton through a series of letters.

Q13: Why did Mary Shelley write "Frankenstein"?

A13: Mary Shelley wrote "Frankenstein" as part of a friendly competition among a group of friends, which included her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley and the poet Lord Byron, to see who could write the best ghost story. The idea for "Frankenstein" came to Mary in a dream, and she began to write the novel as a short story before expanding it into a full-length novel.

Q14: How has the portrayal of the monster changed in popular culture?

A14: Over the years, the monster's portrayal in popular culture has often deviated from the original novel. In many adaptations, the creature is depicted as a mute, lumbering brute with bolts in his neck and a flat-top head, a far cry from Shelley's intelligent and articulate creation. This shift in portrayal may be attributed to the influence of early film adaptations, particularly the 1931 film "Frankenstein," which has had a lasting impact on the public's perception of the character.

Q15: Is there a sequel to "Frankenstein"?

A15: While Mary Shelley did not write an official sequel to "Frankenstein," the story has inspired numerous sequels, spin-offs, and reinterpretations by other authors and filmmakers. These works often explore the further adventures of the monster or present alternative perspectives on the events of the original novel.

Q16: What is the role of women in "Frankenstein"?

A16: Women in "Frankenstein" often occupy traditional roles, such as wives, mothers, and daughters, and their experiences often serve to highlight the novel's themes of isolation, loss, and the consequences of unchecked ambition. Although female characters like Elizabeth Lavenza and Margaret Saville play supporting roles, their presence in the story helps to underscore the novel's exploration of human relationships and the consequences of Victor's actions on those around him.

Q17: Why is the monster's appearance so important in the novel?

A17: The monster's grotesque appearance serves to emphasize the unnatural nature of his creation and the consequences of Victor's obsession with creating life. It also plays a significant role in the story, as the creature's appearance leads to his rejection by society and his creator, fueling his feelings of loneliness, anger, and desire for revenge.

Q18: How does the novel explore the theme of responsibility?

A18: "Frankenstein" explores the theme of responsibility through Victor's failure to accept responsibility for his creation and the consequences of his actions. By abandoning the creature and refusing to acknowledge the consequences of his experiments, Victor sets in motion a series of tragic events. The novel raises questions about the moral and ethical responsibilities that come with scientific discovery and the potential dangers of pushing the boundaries of knowledge.

Q19: What is the role of nature in "Frankenstein"?

A19: Nature serves as both a backdrop and a symbol in the novel, often contrasting with the artificiality of the monster's creation. The beauty and power of nature are sources of solace and inspiration for characters like Victor and the monster, but nature can also be destructive and indifferent to human suffering. Throughout the novel, the characters often seek refuge in nature to escape their emotional turmoil and find peace. Furthermore, the Romantic emphasis on the healing power and sublime qualities of nature is evident in "Frankenstein," as it serves to highlight the consequences of meddling with the natural order through Victor's scientific pursuits. In this way, the role of nature in "Frankenstein" underscores the novel's themes of balance, humility, and the consequences of disrupting the harmony between humanity and the natural world.

Q20: How does "Frankenstein" explore the concept of the "Other"?

A20: The concept of the "Other" is central to "Frankenstein," as the creature is continually marginalized and rejected due to his monstrous appearance. The novel explores the idea that society often fears and ostracizes those who are different, and raises questions about the nature of prejudice, tolerance, and acceptance.

Q21: Why does the monster want a companion?

A21: The monster desires a companion because he is lonely and longs for a sense of belonging. He hopes that a companion, similar to himself, would help alleviate his isolation and provide him with the love and understanding that he has been denied by humans.

Q22: How does the story of "Frankenstein" relate to the Romantic movement?

A22: "Frankenstein" is often considered a Romantic novel, as it reflects many of the movement's key themes and concerns. The novel emphasizes the importance of individual emotion, imagination, and the natural world, while also exploring the potential dangers of scientific advancement and the pursuit of knowledge without regard for moral and ethical consequences.

Q23: How does "Frankenstein" address the theme of parenting and creation?

A23: "Frankenstein" can be seen as an exploration of the responsibilities and consequences of parenthood and creation. Victor Frankenstein's failure to care for and nurture his creation, resulting in the monster's descent into violence and revenge, serves as a cautionary tale about the potential dangers of neglecting one's responsibilities as a creator or parent.

Q24: What is the significance of the novel's subtitle, "The Modern Prometheus"?

A24: The subtitle "The Modern Prometheus" refers to the Greek myth of Prometheus, who defied the gods by giving fire to humanity. Similarly, Victor Frankenstein defies the natural order by creating life from dead tissue. The subtitle implies that Victor, like Prometheus, is both a heroic figure and one who suffers the consequences of his actions, as his creation ultimately leads to his own suffering and downfall.

Q25: What is the role of education in "Frankenstein"?

A25: Education plays a significant role in "Frankenstein," as it shapes Victor's ambitions and sets him on the path to create the monster. The novel explores the potential dangers of unchecked intellectual curiosity, as well as the importance of balancing the pursuit of knowledge with a sense of moral and ethical responsibility. Additionally, the creature's self-education through literature highlights the power of learning to shape an individual's perception of the world and themselves.

In conclusion, Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" remains a timeless and thought-provoking piece of literature that continues to captivate readers over two centuries after its publication. The novel's complex themes and memorable characters have inspired countless adaptations and reinterpretations, solidifying its status as a classic work. By exploring the frequently asked questions surrounding "Frankenstein," we gain a deeper understanding of the novel's themes, such as the nature of humanity, the consequences of unchecked ambition, and the role of responsibility in scientific discovery. Ultimately, "Frankenstein" serves as a cautionary tale that challenges us to reflect on our own ambitions, the ethical implications of our actions, and the importance of maintaining a balance between the pursuit of knowledge and the respect for the natural world.

April 14, 2023 — Muhammad Nurul Afsar