Mary Shelly, the author of the novel Frankenstein, was a self-taught writer of the 18th century, from a very young age, she was able to write in complex niches: like science fiction. History doesn’t show any records for her formal education, yet her diaries reflected a contradictory opinion. Her writings were proficient enough to earn for her the title of the “most well-read woman” of her era. At just the age of 17 shelly wrote Frankenstein, whose story revolves around an enthusiast Victor Frankenstein. The quest of victor for determining the realities of life and conquering death turned out into a legendary story, which has never been out of the press since its first publications. Not only it has been published in multitudes but also has been portrayed on the screen many times. As the fame is being discussed, it is integral to mention that the novel has received both appreciation and critical reviews.
At a very young age, Shelly wrote Frankenstein, one of the pioneer science fiction novels, the story revolves around Victor Frankenstein who developed a sheer interest in the life sciences and chemistry at the university, his experimental ventures burgeoned his quest for the science. He tried to unveil the reality of life in order to deceive death. His trials led him to the creation of an unrealistic creature, whose powers grew out of his control. Thus through Victor’s character, the writer signified the quest of human nature for control and it’s curiosity. And through the creature, she manifested many cultural and societal aspects.
As already mentioned, the novel has gained both appreciative and critical feedback, this essay will be focused on the evaluation of two critic reviews on Frankenstein. The critical review chosen for the essay is literary panoramas by an anonymous writer and sherry Gin’s literary review. The critical reviews point towards strikingly distinguished limitations and points of the novel.
In the book the literary panorama and national register, the review on Frankenstein has been published, the review is also openly accessible at many online resources including the romantic circle. Though the publishers are specified the author is veiled, still, the review holds significant importance owing to highlighting the genuine concerns of the non-imaginative reader’s cohort. The author of the review has criticized the novel on a factual basis and has claimed that the novel misses the puzzle pieces and many subtle details are left to be filled solely by the reader’s imagination, as the critic says:
“The work seems to have been written in great haste, and on a very crude and ill-digested plan; and the detail is, in consequence, frequently filled with the grossest and obvious inconsistencies (Literary Panorama) .”
After briefly overviewing the plot of the story, the critic comes straight towards the bone of the contention in the plot, that is the supernatural ability of the formed creature and the missing details about their origin. As the critic highlights the loopholes in the plot when the inanimate creature was brought to life, and it stood up, moved, and disappeared into the woods for straight two years, while the creator Frankenstein didn’t do anything except sitting there in wonder. The critic has also objected to the developmental progress of the creature, as the audience needed to know how he was proficient inhumanly attributes right after his creation.
Sherry Ginn has however employed an advanced psychological lens for reviewing Frankenstein, thus her review has two basic evaluation parameters, neuroscience and science fiction. The review of sherry Ginn differs from the literary panoramas in the sense that the writer has not found any inconsistencies in the faculties development of the creature. Rather Ginn has compared the developmental stages with Erik Erikson’s theory of 8 developmental stages. Quoting pieces from the original extract Ginn manifested the stages of confronting trust and autonomy, guilt, inferiority, identity, stagnation, and despair.
The writer has shown the loneliness of the creature in the text quite many times which served as the basis of his demand for a mate. As when the creature faced initial rejection by the creator arouse the sentiments of mistrust, then the escape of the creature manifested the need for independence. Later on, learning the new things, the survival of existence, the inferiority complex development due to different physical appearance, the solitude, and later the revenge-seeking are not only methodical but also logical. As the original text follows:
“It was a portrait of a most lovely woman. Despite my malignity, it softened and attracted me. For a few moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, fringed by deep lashes, and her lovely lips; but presently my rage returned: I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights (Shelly)”.
Thus, through the emotional perception, the critic has strengthened the developmental stages of the creature by providing a psychological theoretical back. Moreover, the critic has also claimed that the writer through in the 18th century was well aware of the science of physiognomy, as she writes:
“The assessment of a person’s character or personality from observation of their facial appearance is known as physiognomy… Mary Shelley was well aware of physiognomy and phrenology… She even evokes the horror of her Creature’s facial features when Victor describes his creation (Genn)”.
As Mary Shelly writes about the creature:
“I had selected his features as beautiful. Beautiful! —Great God! His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and arteries beneath; his hair was of a lustrous black and flowing, and his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but this luxuriance only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery [yellow] eyes (Shelly)”.
Genn has generously appreciated shelly as a voracious reader and a science enthusiast herself as without any formal education she knew about the concept of galvanism and the stimulation of the nerve impulses by the electric impulse, as she incorporates the galvanism in the animation process of the creature.
In a nutshell, the literary panorama had done a surface-level analysis, considering the low-tech audience, with minimal imagination capability, and claimed that the writing was hasty and missing the detailing. However, a deeper review by Ginn on the neuroscience and human psychology grounds, brought forward the writing and detailing the accuracy of Shelly, as the animation and development steps mentioned by her were consistent with the scientific theories. Thus, it will not be wrong to say that shelly was one of the pioneers of the science fiction genre.
Ginn, Sherry. “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein: Science, Science Fiction or Autobiography” Oxford. www.clas.ufl.edu/ipsa/2003/ginn.html Accessed on 23 December 2018
Shelly, Mary. “Frankenstein”. Act II: 36-44. Romantic Circles. May 2009. www.rc.umd.edu/editions/wattyler/text_Act1.html. Accessed on 24 December 2018
The Literary Panorama, and National Register, N.S., 8 (1 June 1818): 411-414. www.rc.umd.edu/reference/chronologies/mschronology/reviews/lprev.html Accessed on 24 December 2018