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F is for...

...Frankenstein's Monster



The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?
---Edgar Allan Poe


The Empress

Alas, this is another "cheat" as Monster should technically fall under "M"...but, again--- my blog, my rules :-)


Frankenstein's Monster is probably one of the most recognizable images in all of pop culture. The tale is known by nearly every school age child with Halloween privileges--- Dr. Frankenstein creates a Monster by pulling together bits and pieces of the recently deceased and "breathing" life back into its body by the use of electricity. The Creature, however, isn't the beautiful creation of Dr. Frankenstein's dreams and after his creator flees from him in disgust, the Monster disappears, terrorizing all who see him---great hulking, murderous brute that he is.


Mary Godwin, later Mary Shelley, published her masterpiece, anonymously, on New Year's Day 1818 after writing it for 2 years following a nightmarish waking-dream during a visit to Lord Byron's Villa in Switzerland. Having been tasked by Byron to come up with a 'ghost story' to pass the wintery nights, Mary latched on to the idea of reanimated corpses---as galvanism (contraction of muscles by stimulating with electric current) was the morbid "fad" of the day, people fearing the dead rising from their coffins given enough power.

Raising the dead was a terrifyingly real possibility during Godwin's early life. And though she never admitted that galvanized corpses led to her story of Frankenstein, it is difficult to dismiss completely. Before the life-saving properties of electricity was understood, it was first discovered, in 1791, that muscular contractions could be produced in animal corpses by the addition of an electrical current by Luigi Galvani. But, it was his nephew, Giovanni Aldini, who would go on to shock a nation.


Aldini traveled Europe, using his uncle's discovery to reanimate various animals in scientific "shows." But, it was his trip to London in 1803, where he procured the body of recently hanged criminal, George Foster, and began his "show" for a terrified audience. Spectators watched as the application of electricity immediately set the murderer's jaws to quivering and his legs to moving. Even one of his eyes was said to open. The fear that gripped the gathered audience was so tremendous that it was believed that an unfortunate beadle of the surgeon's company, who died shortly after returning home, literally died of fright.


Few things are more morbid than contemplating the reanimation of an amalgamated corpse. The process seems simple enough--- gather cold, dead flesh, stitch and sew and staple and secure it together, add a donated brain, juice it with enough heart-starting electricity and pray.

Then wait for fetid breath to rasp its way through limp lips-- is this the hope for humanity, cheating death to the cost of all warmth and beauty? Is Frankenstein's Monster all we can hope for?

If the story had come to a happy ending would the
world look on Frankenstein's Monster differently? Would we have scores of immortality seekers scrambling to collect the most beautiful body parts to prepare the necessary shell for their reanimated consciousness, if their own body wasn't salvageable? Would there suddenly be a push to market perfected bodies to allow people to pick a new body to house themselves in, if the one they were born with wasn't pleasing in their own eyes?

And, how far could we go?

How far WOULD we go?


Though Shelley never named the Monster in her novel, the grotesque creature has become synonymous with its creator, Victor Frankenstein. Those of us seeking literary accuracy may argue til we're blue in the face that the bolt-studded gargantuan oft seen at Halloween parties is NOT Frankenstein, but his Monster. But, can we really argue with the unintended irony that has equated a desperate professor  bent on defying the laws of nature with his misunderstood creation?




Comments

  1. It's amazing that everyone thinks Shelley was writing complete fiction and didn't realize where her inspiration came from. It makes one heck of a creepy story!! I'm happy I found this blog - it's going on my blogroll now. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aw, thanks much!!! :-)

      And, yeah...ain't nothing stranger than truth!

      Delete
  2. The science behind this fiction is fascinating. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I know...there are so many things in science that lend themselves to great stories :-)

      Delete
  3. Shelly was ahead of her time, a woman who was raised and educated by a liberal father.

    ReplyDelete
  4. doooode you totally shouldve saved this one for G im going to be fascinated with galvanism for the rest of the day lol

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. But, but, but, I have something else I want to do for "G"....

      Delete
  5. I love this one and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is one of my favorites!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. :-) Thanks, girl! And, yeah, Frankenstein IS awesome...

      Delete

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