One thing I want to make extremely clear from the beginning is the fact that Frankenstein is the name of the scientist, not the monster. I'm hoping that this is something that we all know, but the number of times I've had to explain this in my life doesn't even bear thinking about. I mean, google don't even know the difference- an image search for Frankenstein comes up with a whole load of pictures of Boris Karloff's face (as the monster, not in general). So yeah, Frankenstein= the scientist, the monster is just the monster. All clear?
Mind you, it is a detriment to Frankenstein's character that he didn't even bother to give his creation (the 'monster') a name, and just left him to be doomed to be labelled as such. In fact, rather than being scared of the 'monster' I found myself more feeling sorry for him than anything, and kind of thinking that Frankenstein sort of deserved to have these bad things happen to him, because let's face it- he created a creepy looking dude, with perceptions and feelings, and yet no language, and then just abandoned him because... he was unattractive? I mean really, who is the real monster here?
Poor old Frankenstein then has to make his way around the world by himself, figuring out how on earth things work, and trying to find some kind of human decency so that he can be a functioning member of society. Instead, all he finds is horror, and threats, and terror, just because of the way he looks. This book confirms everything you ever believed about the shallowness of human beings, and in the end you really have to sympathise with the 'monster' because it's hardly his fault that he's turned out that way- cast out by his maker, shunned by society even though he tries to be good, there's not much for him to do other than become a murderer, which he of course does (although I definitely wished he had actually been innocent, he really does become a murderer- but who can blame him!)
On the flip side of my sympathy for the 'monster' is my disgust for Frankenstein, who is perhaps the most irresponsible character in all of fiction. Seriously- that whole creating a sentient being and then being disgusted by his face (which YOU created! God, Frankenstein!) and then spending the next hundred or so pages whinging because said 'monster' is, quite justifiably angry at you?! He's a poor excuse for a human being, and his continual deliriums are kind of embarrassing after a while. Towards the end of the book, someone says to the 'monster':
"'it is well you come here to whine over the desolation that you have made. You throw a torch into a pile of buildings; and when they are consumed you sit among the ruins and lament the fall. Hypocritical fiend!'"The exact same thing can be said about Frankenstein himself, and no matter how much he blames himself for what happens during the course of the story, it is never enough because it is all his fault- not for creating the 'monster' in the first place, but for failing to nurture him so he didn't turn out the way he did. I repeat, who here is the real monster?
My interpretation of Frankenstein (the book) is focused in such a way because I have read it before- because I knew of the injustices faced by the poor monster, I was pretty much against Frankenstein (the man) from the beginning. I'm sure that the first time round, I was more taken by how sinister it was, and how freaked out the 'monster's' stalking made me feel, and just the general sense of doom around proceedings. This time around I was more pissed off than anything, and found myself replying to Frankenstein's whining in my head with no-nonsense responses. I guess the moral of this tale is, if you were scared by Frankenstein the first time, the next time you'll just want to kill Frankenstein before anyone else has the opportunity to, and to take the monster into your home and make him feel welcome. At least, you will if you're anything like me...
Fun fact re: the 'monster'- Shelley referred to him as 'Adam', which makes me think that the big bad in the fourth season of Buffy was definitely named after him, especially since he's like a Frankenstein-ian creation of all these different demons... good to know, I think!