Legacy of Frankenstein: The monster with a heart of a man

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Shelley’s book is more than a haunting ghost story, oh so much more. Her tale exposes the horror of the human condition. Her protagonist fundamentally splits open Man’s chest, pulls aside the red matter, cracks apart bone and marrow and exposes the vulnerable human heart. A thing so small but guilty of so much atrocity.

Simultaneously, it is both the cause of our affections and source of our afflictions. If history stands in accusations against our species, for one thing, it must be for our inability to accept what we do not understand and then fear what we cannot accept.

Think about this — biblically, the first baby born was Cain, a man we all know to have killed his younger brother. So, in essence, the first man born among us likewise became the first murderer. There you have it – the beating (and murderous) heart of Man’s wild obsessions.

A heart willing to do anything to accomplish its means will, in fact, do anything (no matter how questionable or cruel) to make that accomplishment.

That is the plight of Victor Frankenstein. Is he an evil man? No, not in any classical sense. He is a man who simply will not be dissuaded from his goals, and to do so he sets aside his moral obligations – but only temporarily, at least, that’s what he tells himself. It’s a shallow comfort, but a comfort nonetheless.

After all, isn’t it for the greater good?

Think of the lives that will be spared! But one must crack a few eggs to make an omelet as they say. So to sustain life, lives must become expandable.

I know this didn’t happen in the book, but Shelley’s story is left open to interpretation, and among my favorite interpretations of the legend is Hammer’s. Unlike Frankenstein that follows the monster, Hammer decided to follow the Doctor.

Hammer gave us a Frankenstein who is willing to murder (people he knew personally) in order to harvest the required organs for his experimentations. In short, it’s a tale about a man willing to turn against his own kind in favor of his heart’s obsessions. He’s so blinded by ambition that he cannot smell the rotting decay of his corrupted nature.

The Mother of Monsters

It took a woman’s perspective to analyze the ugliness inside a Man’s heart. Make no mistake, we are capable of great things, but that doesn’t mean they’ll always be wholesome things. Our intentions may be good  but as they say, good intentions pave the way to Hell.

So in part that is the wisdom of May Shelley’s undying masterpiece. As we stand on a new brink of discovery and dare to flirt with bio-engineering and artificial intelligence we can practically feel the cold shadow of Victor Frankenstein looming over us all. The trouble is, I know he’s there but unsure if he’s cheering us on or lamenting our progress.

Should man create life after his own image? I’m not wise enough to answer you that. We know the results of Shelley’s protagonist. Frankenstein lost everything for his pursuit of the greater good. The love of his life was murdered at the hands of his own creation.

image courtesy of Frankensteinia The Frankenstein Blog art by Patrick Jones

His family name was not only stained but accursed entirely. He made possibly the most significant human discovery since the proto spark of the first fire, and yet the man ended his days in the lonesome wastes of the frozen North, hunted by the monstrosity he released into the world and haunted by the phantoms of all who perished for the sake of his obscene goals.

And his legacy lingers on to haunt and warn us all.

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Fan of the legendary Dr. Frankenstein and his monster? Think it’s one of horror’s best? Let the other creepy creatures know what you think in the comments below.