Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus.

first of a tour of eight screens                   [Print version]
     There is a horror aspect to the famous novel everyone misses seeing
the first time around. A primary purpose of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein
is to exercise "untried resources of mind," not only those of the author, but
also those of the reader. Discrepancies or inconsistencies are evidence of
this. For example, the Creature's praise of Victor in the concluding scene
raises the question, "On what experiences or observations is the Creature's
regard for Victor based?" This is a question to which Victor's account
provides no answer. Experiences or observations that would explain the
Creature's opinion of Victor are either unknown to Victor or are a part of
the story that he has left out. Another discrepancy indicates a substantial
and curious gap in Victor's story in which the Creature's view of Victor
might have been formed. This tour will begin to show how underappreciated
Mary Shelley's story machinery has been, by pointing out how some of the
discrepancies, along with the point of view Shelley offers, can lead to an
adventure of significant discovery.
     Leonard Wolf, in his book, The Essential Frankenstein, suggests that
the ambiguity surrounding the death of the Creature is something of an inconsistency,
because the other deaths in the book are so unambiguous. Yet, if we are interested
in Mary Shelley's purposes for writing the book and wish to exercise untried
resources of mind, it makes all the sense in the world that the Creature remains
alive, if only to have the opportunity to answer such questions. Shelley uses
discrepancies to raise discussion questions that her readers may use to exercise
their minds. To see how To a Candid World makes use of Shelley's preface to
address the questions raised by the discrepancies or inconsistencies she was
careful to include, this tour will begin by taking you to some of the advertisements
in the book. Note that Robert Walton is sometimes referred to as Uncle Bob.
We will also look at part of a version of the Vitebsk Story to see how answers
to the questions Shelley raises may be proposed. [Next][Exit tour]