John Kessel Guest Blog: Eight Misconceptions about Mary Shelley's Frankenstein - Dread Central
Connect with us

News

John Kessel Guest Blog: Eight Misconceptions about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Published

on

Today’s the release date for John Kessel’s Pride and Prometheus, which fuses Mary Shelley’s Gothic horror with the Regency romance of Jane Austen in an exciting novel that combines two age-old stories in a fresh and startling way. In honor of the occasion, we have a guest blog to share from author Kessel in which he discusses eight popular misconceptions about Shelley’s creation known as Frankenstein.

March 11, 2018, marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, an origin text for both horror and science fiction. In writing my new novel Pride and Prometheus, a story in which Mary Bennet from Pride and Prejudice encounters Victor Frankenstein and his monster, I had occasion to re-read Frankenstein and think about the ways in which later writers have transformed Shelley’s story for their own purposes.

Soon after the novel’s appearance, a stage play based on it was drawing sellout crowds in London; and since then Shelley’s monstrous creation has given birth to a thousand hideous offspring, from the iconic 1931 James Whale-Boris Karloff movie to The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But from the very beginning, adaptations and retellings have departed so far from the original that the most common reaction of many people who read the novel for the first time is how different it is from their expectations.

Here are eight things that people think they know about Frankenstein that are NOT true.

1) Frankenstein is the name of the Monster.

I suspect that people give the creator’s name to his creation because Boris Karloff gave such a memorable performance that the figure of the Monster far outshadows that of his maker. Everybody remembers Karloff, but who remembers Colin Clive? But Shelley’s creature is the original non-person, recognized and accepted by no one, with no ancestors or connections other than Victor. Thus, he is nameless.

2) The scientist who creates the creature is named Henry Frankenstein.

In Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein’s first name is Victor. His best friend is named Henry Clerval. For some reason, in Universal Pictures’ 1931 Frankenstein, James Whale and his screenwriters switched their first names. Why? Your guess is as good as mine.

3) Victor is a baron who lives in a castle in the mountains.

We can blame the Whale/Karloff movie and its successors at Universal for this, too. In the novel Victor is the son of a benevolent Geneva public servant, off at college in the German town of Ingolstadt. He’s not a baron; he’s an undergrad. He has no castle in the mountains. He lives in an apartment with an attic workshop where he attempts to create life from lifeless matter.

4) Victor is crazy.

Victor may be the archetypal “mad scientist,” but he is not crazy. He is motivated by the death of his beloved mother to pursue the secret of life in the hope of preventing others from suffering the loss that he has suffered. True, there’s more than a little self-aggrandizement in his quest. He imagines creating “a new species” of creatures who will owe their lives to him.

Victor is modeled to some degree on Mary’s husband, Percy Shelley, the great Romantic poet, who abandoned his wife to run off with Mary when she was barely seventeen. Like Victor, Percy Shelley was so motivated by his pursuit of the ideal that he neglected those dependent on him. His abandoned wife committed suicide. He was not the most responsible of husbands to Mary: A few years after the publication of Frankenstein, he drowned in a boating accident just shy of his thirtieth birthday, leaving her with no resources other than her writing to support herself and their son.
Percy published his first poetry under the pen-name “Victor.”

5) He has an assistant named Igor.

Sorry, no hunchbacked servant. The source of Igor is likely the earliest stage production based on the novel, the 1823 Gothic melodrama Presumption, or the Fate of Frankenstein by Richard Brinsley Peake. In it Victor Frankenstein has a halfwit bumbling servant Fritz who pines for the cow he left in the country.

6) The Monster is stitched together from body parts stolen from corpses.

Though scientists of the 1800s were known to steal corpses in order to study human anatomy, nowhere in Frankenstein is it said that the body of the creature is made from pieces of corpses. The closest Victor comes to this is when he tells us he studied the decay of human bodies in order to discover the process of transition “from life to death, and death to life” and that he haunted “the dissecting room and the slaughter house” to collect his “materials.”

7) The Monster goes wrong because he was given the brain of a dead criminal

Mary Shelley’s parents were the radical political philosopher William Godwin, a supporter of the French Revolution, and the pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who wrote one of the earliest arguments for gender equality, A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Mary grew up in an atmosphere of intellectual radicalism. Like the enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, she believed that people are born innocent, blank slates who become evil only when corrupted by society. Her Creature goes bad not because he has a criminal brain, but because he is abandoned by Victor from the moment of his creation, mistreated and rejected by all who encounter him. It’s not nature that fails; it’s nurture.

8) The Monster is dim-witted, shambling, and wordless.

This is another misconception arising from Peake’s play: because by royal patent the theater in which it was first performed required that plays include music, pantomime and spectacle, Peake’s Monster is mute, communicating only through gestures. Shelley’s creature is the complete opposite: brilliantly intelligent, incredibly articulate, agile, and swift. When Victor sees the Creature for the first time since his creation, he describes it as “advancing towards me with superhuman speed” bounding effortlessly over the crevices of the Swiss glacier where Victor has gone to contemplate suicide.

The Creature is also a genius who keenly observes and comments on human behavior. Victor warns Captain Walton, to whom he tells his story, not to listen to the creature because he is so “eloquent and persuasive.

Shelley’s Creature is as much an incisive social critic as a threatening monster.


Born in Buffalo, New York, John Kessel holds a B.A. in Physics and English and a Ph.D. in American Literature. He helped found and served as the first director of the MFA program in creative writing at North Carolina State University, where he has taught since 1982. He is the author of the novels Good News from Outer SpaceCorrupting Dr. Nice, and, in collaboration with James Patrick Kelly, Freedom Beach. His short story collections are Meeting in Infinity (a New York Times Notable Book), The Pure Product, and The Baum Plan for Financial Independence. Also with Jim Kelly, he has edited five anthologies of stories re-visioning contemporary short sci-fi, most recently Digital Rapture: The Singularity Anthology.

Pride and Prometheus arrives today (February 13th) from Sega Press.  Click here to order your copy.

Synopsis:
Pride and Prejudice meets Frankenstein as Mary Bennet falls for the enigmatic Victor Frankenstein and befriends his monstrous Creature in this clever fusion of two popular classics.

Threatened with destruction unless he fashions a wife for his Creature, Victor Frankenstein travels to England, where he meets Mary and Kitty Bennet, the remaining unmarried sisters of the Bennet family from Pride and Prejudice. As Mary and Victor become increasingly attracted to each other, the Creature looks on impatiently, waiting for his bride. But where will Victor find a female body from which to create the monster’s mate?

Meanwhile, the awkward Mary hopes that Victor will save her from approaching spinsterhood while wondering what dark secret he is keeping from her.

Comments

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Comments

News

Breaking: Jurassic World 3 Stomps Into Theaters June 2021!

Published

on

J.A. Bayona’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom doesn’t hit theaters until the June, but still, here comes Jurassic World 3!

Yes, Deadline just announced that the third entry in the massively successful Jurassic World series is going to be roaring into theaters come June 11, 2012.

Not only that but the film has already snagged a screenwriter in the form of Pacific Rim: Uprising co-writer Emily Carmichael, who will co-write along with Trevorrow.

The third entry’s script will be based off a story by Trevorrow and Derek Connolly, who wrote the first two Jurassic World films together, and Steven Spielberg and Trevorrow will return to executive produce, along with producers Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley.

“It’s important to this franchise that we welcome new creative voices to keep our storytelling fresh and alive,” said Trevorrow in a statement. “I’m thrilled with the tension and beauty J.A. has brought to Fallen Kingdom, and I know Emily will add another layer of emotion to the concluding chapter of our trilogy.”

There have been no casting confirmations just yet, but we will let you know as soon as we hear anything further! Are you excited for Jurassic World 3? Let us know below!

Directed by J.A. Bayona (The Impossible), the epic action-adventure is written by Jurassic World’s director, Trevorrow, and its co-writer, Derek Connolly. The film stars Chriss Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, James Cromwell, Ted Levine, Justice Smith, Geraldine Chaplin, Daniella Pineda, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall, and Isabella Sermon, while BD Wong and Jeff Goldblum reprise their roles.

Look for it in theaters on June 22, 2018.

Synopsis:

It’s been four years since theme park and luxury resort Jurassic World was destroyed by dinosaurs out of containment. Isla Nublar now sits abandoned by humans while the surviving dinosaurs fend for themselves in the jungles. When the island’s dormant volcano begins roaring to life, Owen (Chris Pratt) and Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard) mount a campaign to rescue the remaining dinosaurs from this extinction-level event. Owen is driven to find Blue, his lead raptor who’s still missing in the wild, and Claire has grown a respect for these creatures she now makes her mission.

Arriving on the unstable island as lava begins raining down, their expedition uncovers a conspiracy that could return our entire planet to a perilous order not seen since prehistoric times.

With all of the wonder, adventure, and thrills synonymous with one of the most popular and successful series in cinema history, this all-new motion-picture event sees the return of favorite characters and dinosaurs—along with new breeds more awe-inspiring and terrifying than ever before. Welcome to Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.

Comments

Continue Reading

News

Jordan Peele’s Next Genre Movie Begins Shooting Later This Year

Published

on

I’m pretty sure that there aren’t many Jordan Peele haters out there.

The man is not only a brilliant comedian – as showcased in multiple seasons of his sketch comedy series “Key & Peele” – but the fact that he has earned Oscar nominations, along with boatloads of cash, for writing and directing his debut horror feature, Get Out, makes Peele damn near untouchable.

It is with this in mind that not only the horror community but the entire world are holding their breath in anticipation of Peele’s next film.

Well, today we have news on just that as Peele recently told THR that his next film will begin shooting later this year.

“I am currently writing it, and I’ll direct for Universal this year,” he said. “I’m just trying to entertain myself again.”

While the writer-director is being tighhtlipped about the details of his new film, he did tell the site that the new movie will tonally resemble Get Out.

“One thing I know is that this is genre; and playing around with the thriller, horror, action, fun genre of intrigue is my favorite,” he said. “That’s my sweet spot. So I think tonally it should resemble Get Out. That said, I want to make a completely different movie. I want to address something different than race in the next one.”

Again, I don’t think there are many people out there that aren’t intensely curious about what Peele cooks up next, so we will make sure to keep you guys up-to-date as word pours in. Until then let us know what you think of Jordan Peele below!

Get Out is nominated for multiple Oscars this year, and we will find out just which categories it wins come March 4, 2018.

BUY GET OUT HERE!

Synopsis:
Now that Chris (Daniel Kaluuya) and his girlfriend, Rose (Allison Williams), have reached the meet-the-parents milestone of dating, she invites him for a weekend getaway upstate with Missy and Dean. At first, Chris reads the family’s overly accommodating behavior as nervous attempts to deal with their daughter’s interracial relationship, but as the weekend progresses, a series of increasingly disturbing discoveries lead him to a truth that he could never have imagined.

Comments

Continue Reading

News

Battle of the Hell Priests: Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Idea for Hellraiser: Judgment Sequel

Published

on

I think it’s safe to say that many of us were pleasantly surprised by director Gary J. Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser: Judgment. The film was a fun blast of twisted horror, and Tunnicliffe’s performance as The Auditor was a killer addition to the Hellraiser lore.

But has the director thought about a sequel to his film? Not during shooting evidently.

I had no concept of a sequel, a spinoff, nothing at all,” the director told Screen Rant. “People suggest, ‘Oh, you’re trying to write a sequel for The Auditor and stuff like that.’ It’s like, ‘Are you f***ng kidding?’ I was just trying to swim to the other bank and survive without being eaten by the sharks.”

But now that filming is long over with, Tunnicliffe says he does have some ideas for a sequel.

I have thought about it afterward, what I think would be great fun,” he says. “Maybe a new Cenobite ruler comes in or takes over, and a new head priest comes in, and it’s not working out and clearly this person, this Cenobite’s not doing a great job. And underhandedly, The Auditor is leaving a trail of breadcrumbs for the guy who is Pinhead to find his way back, and he gets pulled in. And then it’s like, he turns up, and it’s like a showdown between the newly born Pinhead and this guy who’s taken over his mantle… we do a bit of a standoff, and it’s like a battle of the Hell priests.

Battle of the Hell priests? Pardon the pun, but Hell, yeah! Would you like to see Tunnicliffe’s Hellraiser sequel? Let us know below!

Hellraiser: Judgment stars Damon Carney, Randy Wayne, Alexandra Harris, Jeff Fenter, Helena Grace Donald, Grace Montie, John Gulager, Diane Goldner, Heather Langenkamp, and Paul T. Taylor as Pinhead.

The film is now available on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital.

Special features:

  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Gag reel

BUY IT HERE!

Synopsis:
The dreaded Pinhead returns in the next terrifying chapter of the classic Hellraiser series. Three detectives trying to stop a diabolical serial killer are sucked into a maze of otherworldly horror, where hellish denizens including the Auditor, the Assessor, and the Jury await to pass judgment.

Comments

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!
Advertisement

Recent Comments

Advertisement

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

Trending

Copyright © 2017 Dread Central Media LLC