The story of Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, has been told since 1818. Most people imagine “the monster” as this green beast with a square head and bolts sticking out of his neck. This image of Frankenstein is just one of the ways that somebody has retold the original novel, Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. In fact, many people have tried to recreate the tale of Frankenstein in various movies. For example, Kenneth Branagh directed a movie in 1994, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, that came out close to the novel written by Mary Shelley herself.
Branagh illustrated Frankenstein as an uneducated, horrid creature. Shelley’s novel portrays Frankenstein very differently. Shelley describes the monster as a very educated, well spoken, yet absolutely horrifying creature. Also, in Shelley’s version of Frankenstein, she provides instances, such as the monster moving quickly over snowy mountains, that Branagh left out of his film. These instances provide for a much more frightening monster than Branagh’s monster.
Both the film and the novel tell the same story, even though Branagh’s film has a few changes. Victor Frankenstein, a mad scientist, is absolutely obsessed with trying to create life. He spends years trying to make this body that he has made out of different human body parts come to life, and he eventually succeeds. Victor was initially excited that after all his efforts and studying, he finally did something that nobody else has done. However, the tides quickly turned and Victor soon realized that he never should have created this monster.
Before he knew it, the monster began murdering Victors’ family because of the fact that Victor stranded the monster after birth and left him to fend for himself. During this time, the monster was learning how to be “human” from the De Lacey family by stalkingly watching them through a hole in the wall of their house. This is one of the only instances where the monster felt love and affection. After observing the family one night, the monster says “I felt sensations of a peculiar overwhelming nature” (Shelley 100). One day, the monster got brave and decided to introduce himself to the family.
When this happened, the family set eyes on the monster, and instantly starting beating him and chased him out of their house. This was the main turning point for the monster because after all he has suffered through, even the people who he considered family treated him with disrespect. This caused the monster to flee the area and voyage towards Geneva. While in Geneva, the monster killed Victors younger brother, William, mainly to get Victor to return home. Once Victor was back in Geneva he went on a nature trip to help clear his mind.
Victor decided to ascend to the top of one of the mountains so that he could have a good view of the area. Once he finally reached the top, he “suddenly beheld the figure of a man, at some distance, advancing toward me at superhuman speed. He bounded over crevices in the ice, among which I had walked with caution” (Shelley 92). Soon, Victor realized that this figure was the monster, and before he knew it the monster was within talking distance. Initially, Victor felt hatred toward the monster by saying “Begone. . . or rather, stay, that I may trample you to dust! Shelley 93) Surprisingly enough, these words did not scare off the monster. Rather, he calmly responded saying “You purpose to kill me. . . do your duty towards me and I will do mine towards you and the rest of mankind. ” (93) Victor and the monster bickered back and forth for awhile, both presenting their arguments. Soon the monster ended the argument by saying, “On you it rests, whether I quit for ever the neighbourhood of man and lead a harmless life, or become the scourge of your fellow-creatures, and the author of your own speedy ruin” (94).
After saying this, the monster started leaving and Victor followed. Victor had just returned home to Geneva because he found out that the monster killed his younger brother, William. Yet the monster is still able to present himself calmly to Victor, while still confronting him with confidence and persuasive arguments, and is able to talk him into following the monster back to his dwelling in the ice crevices. The monster proves his intelligence, persuasiveness, strength, and complete isolation to Victor in this scene alone.
Branagh’s film does not adequately express the strength and quickness of the monster because it neglects to show the monsters ability to have “superhuman” speed. Also, due to the fact that Shelley illustrated the monster as intelligent provides for a much more frightful monster compared to Branagh’s version of a dumb monster. There is a famous saying, “Knowledge is power”, that directly relates to how intelligence provides a much scarier monster. With Shelley’s intelligent monster, she can now use the character to outsmart others into doing what he monster wants them to do. The monster now has the ability to trick people into doing what they do not want to do. During the meeting in the monsters cave, the monster tells Victor of his loneliness. He yearns for friendship, love, and acceptance. A request came from the monster to Victor saying “What I ask of you is reasonable and moderate; I demand a creature of another sex, but as hideous as myself” (Shelley 129). . In Shelley’s novel, Victor begins work by leaving town and heading toward Scotland to do some studies, but also to see if the monster follows him.
After months spent in Scotland, Victor finally began working on the other monster, but realized that the second monster he creates might be more evil than the first, and also will give the monsters an ability to reproduce. With these facts in mind, Victor immediately destroys the female version of the monster while the monster is watching through the window. This angers the monster and he tells Victor, “I have endured toil and misery: I left Switzerland with you; I crept along the shores of the Rhine, among its willow islands, and over the summits of its hills.
I have dwelt many months in the heaths of England, and among the deserts of Scotland. I have endured incalculable fatigue, and cold, and hunger; do you dare destroy my hopes? ” (Shelley 146). In Branagh’s film, Victor immediately began to work on the female monster right in his own house, in Geneva. The absence of the journey to Scotland for the monster in Branagh’s film, leaves out characteristics of the monster that Shelley used to create a more frightening monster.
On the monsters journey to Scotland, the monster displayed courage, ability, and the life threatening determination to get what he wants. He spent months chasing down Victor to try to follow him, in areas that he had never been before. Imagine a monster that can persuade you into doing what you don’t want to do, is insanely hideous, absolutely intelligent, much quicker, and his massive size provides a brute strength that you cannot match; compared to a monster that is dumb, average sized, but still strong, and not as quick.
Mary Shelley added subtle details about the monster that fed the imagination of the reader more so than the work of Branagh. Subtle details such as the monsters ability to cover vast amounts of icy, snowy mountains with “superhuman” speed allows the reader create an image of what they feel is a frightening monster, in their perspective. Branagh completely left out these minute details which really help the reader create a more frightful image of the monster in their head. Overall, Shelley provides details that Branagh felt unimportant to the story.
Shelley illustrated the monster as a determined, strong, massive, and intelligent. These subtle details are important because they give the reader the ability to, piece by piece, put together an image of a rather frightening monster. Hats off to Branagh for his efforts, but Mary Shelley depicted a much more frightening monster than Branagh because of the little details that he neglected to mention. Works Cited Branagh, Kenneth, dir. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, Tri Star Pictures, 1994. Film Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Boston: Macmillan Press LTD, 2000