Frankenstein: Mary Shelley’s Early FanFiction

Today I’d like to dedicate this blog post to one of the most daring, female authors I know: Mary Shelley. She originally published Frankenstein in 1818, but her name was not put on it until 1823.

Think about being a woman, in those days, and writing something like Frankenstein. I can’t say as I blame her for hesitating on using her name, at first.

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Think about the fact that she used the story to call all the scientists – a heavily male community – stupid for dabbling in that which they did not understand.

Frankenstein was also subtitled with the phrase: “The Modern Prometheus.” Let me give you a bit of a rundown on Prometheus in Greek mythology, in case you aren’t already familiar.

Prometheus means “Forethought,” and he was the brother of Epimetheus – “Afterthought.” They were the sons of one of the titans who warred with Zeus.

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(That was a GOOD movie – Clash of the Titans)

Prometheus was curious by nature, so he went to live with men and saw them hungry. He asked Zeus for fire to give to the people and Zeus said no, afraid of what the men could do with it. Nice guy, huh?

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Maybe not so nice.

So Prometheus stole Zeus’ fire, carried it down from Olympus on a torch, and gave it to the people. Some versions of this history say it’s merely Prometheus’ creation of mankind that Zeus punished, others say it was the fire theft. Regardless of the reason, Zeus got all mad, overreacted – typical antagonist – and chained Prometheus to the side of the mountain to suffer for his crimes, where an eagle came and snacked on his liver every day.

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Wow. I don’t care if you take Greek Mythology as fact or fiction… GOOD ONE, Greeks! I love a good shudderfit. *shudderfits*

One version of this tale says that Zeus sent Pandora to open her box of chaos as punishment for mankind obtaining fire. Another version says Pandora opened it out of sheer curiosity and the irresistibility of its contents. I prefer the former version, in which woman isn’t a complete moron and at fault for everything that’s wrong with the world, and somehow, I think Mary Shelley would agree with me on that… especially after she faced wicked nasty criticism for writing such a story as a woman.

It can’t logically be denied that Frankenstein is an allegory – a warning, in which Mary Shelley saw Prometheus as a devil rather than a god – bringing fire, meat-eating, danger, and curiosity to mankind. But the use of a monster to inspire a lesson in its readers still continues, and we have Mary Shelley to credit for making it such a big thing… tapping into the root nature of a supernatural demon as a warning for the direction the author fears society might take. These creatures remind us of fundamental qualities and human flaws, and help us remember them for one reason or another.

For example:

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 Vampires = resist temptation.

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Werewolves = don’t piss off the vampires. And be sexy shirtless. *shrug* Oh, I suppose they protect the weak, too! (I guess I could have skipped that picture, but why?!)

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Yes, scary werewolves matter too. *pets puppy*

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 Ghosts = don’t tempt things that have vanished from our world – those things belong to God(s).

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Frankenstein = do not dabble in sciences that are contrary to God’s will.

But without mankind’s dabbling in the unknown, where would we be? Where would I be if someone had not dared to try the written word, so long ago? I’m sure it was an experiment, then, as Frankenstein was an experiment, and Prometheus’ curiosity leading him to steal fire from the mountain and craft men out of mud. That said, nuclear technology was once an experiment, too, and it is one with dramatic benefits and dangerous consequences. Much like fire.

Good things and bad can come from mankind’s curiosity, but I’m grateful to Mary Shelley for daring to write it down – something she was passionate about, that she believed in – in a dark, twisted tale of ambitions and consequence. Frankenstein is an early example of religious fan fiction, and Mary Shelley was the “Prometheus” of that which we are doing now.

So… in case you’re following this blog from beyond, Mary Shelley… thank you. 🙂

 

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About Nola.Sarina

I am an author of dark fantasy, horror and paranormal romance books. My dark fantasy series, The Vesper Series, is a twist on Original Sin. The series is represented by Michelle Johnson of Inklings Literary Agency. I find my favorite books with new takes on all things supernatural, paranormal and biblical, including vampires, angels and demons, and am an advocate for the New Adult market category for fiction.

Posted on February 26, 2013, in Books, Movies and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Ah, Frankenstein. I used to work as a research scientist. My specialist area was nanotechnology and molecular electronics. Funnily enough, Frankenstein came up quite often when I told people that…

    The thing is, it’s always bugged me that the popular teaching of Frankenstein is that it’s about how ‘man shouldn’t stray into God’s domain’ or similar. I’ve always seen it as a different story.

    To me the problem is not that Victor Frankenstein dares to experiment, it’s how he reacts to his creation. When things don’t go as planned he doesn’t try to fix things, or even to understand what he’s done. Instead he spends a large part of his time swanning around on Lake Geneva moaning self-indulgently. Even when the creature pleads for his help he refuses to attempt anything of the sort. To me the story is really one of a bad parent who refuses to take responsibility for his child.

    If there is a lesson for scientists in Frankenstein (and I believe there is), that’s it. Yes, you should experiment. Yes, you should learn about the world and how it works. And yes, your actions may have unintended consequences. When they do, don’t disown your work. Instead, accept that things are not as you planned them and work to correct your mistakes.

    Interestingly (to me, at least!) the ending of the novel ‘Jurassic Park’ matches that perfectly. Dr Grant uses his knowledge to try and undo everything that’s gone wrong. He and others go out into the park to hunt down and destroy the raptor nests, thereby fixing the problem that another scientist created. It’s a pity the movie changed the ending because I believe that the original sends a far better message.

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