Since 1997, you’ve been coming to BarnesandNoble.com to discuss everything from Stephen King to writing to Harry Potter. You’ve made our site more than a place to discover your next book: you’ve made it a community. But like all things internet, BN.com is growing and changing. We've said goodbye to our community message boards—but that doesn’t mean we won’t still be a place for adventurous readers to connect and discover.

Now, you can explore the most exciting new titles (and remember the classics) at the Barnes & Noble Book Blog. Check out conversations with authors like Jeff VanderMeer and Gary Shteyngart at the B&N Review, and browse write-ups of the best in literary fiction. Come to our Facebook page to weigh in on what it means to be a book nerd. Browse digital deals on the NOOK blog, tweet about books with us,or self-publish your latest novella with NOOK Press. And for those of you looking for support for your NOOK, the NOOK Support Forums will still be here.

We will continue to provide you with books that make you turn pages well past midnight, discover new worlds, and reunite with old friends. And we hope that you’ll continue to tell us how you’re doing, what you’re reading, and what books mean to you.

Reply
New User
EvieJoy
Posts: 4
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Discuss the Early Chapters

I can understand Victor's shock once he created the creature and saw what he had done but as someone once pointed out we are responsible for nurturing what we create. Victor created the creature and then left him. I think society becomes an issue. Humans are social beings and there was no place for the creature within society at all.
Evalyn
New User
Diana621
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Discuss the Early Chapters

1. The opening sequence of letters that frames the story does not immediately involve Victor Frankenstein, but introduces Robert Walton, the passionate young explorer who encounters Frankenstein on his Arctic ocean journey. Why do you think Mary Shelley used such an elaborate framing device? How does Walton's correspondence with his sister echo the themes played out in later chapters? Frankenstein and Walton have much in common. They've both left behind a sisters whom they love dearly, and a nice, warm, comfortable home; the strong ties of families keeps Walton anchored, and ties of family and friendship brings Frankenstein back from the brink of madness. They could've had an easy life, but both are driven by their extraordinary ambitions. Both want to penetrate into the causes of things, to go beyond what we know of the world through our 5 senses. Both men are 'noble' (that word is repeated a lot in the letters). They want adventure, knowledge, and to be great -- to the point of megalomania! Yet both have a sense of humor about themselves. The writing and the ideas expressed throughout the book are like a magnet! One quote that sent chills down my spine: Walton asks Frankenstein why he's in the middle of nowhere, risking his life. The answer? "To seek one who fled from me." 2. What is Victor's motivation for carrying on his work? How is his scientific training and exposure to modern (that is to say, late-18th-century) philosophy crucial to his decision to undertake the project. Do you think the author is critical of science? Knowledge, to understand the principles of life, to be great and remembered forever. It grows and expands like that. Only a century before, alchemy *was* science (though many claim that there was a spirituality behind the outer desire for immortality). "Hard" science was in its infancy, and the echoes of those whom we now consider nutcases then rang out loud and clear to all enquiring minds. Even Isaac Newton worked with alchemy, and wrote some stuff about it. You see how science is then called "natural philosophy." The line between a wholly mental philosophy and wholly physical science had not yet been solidly drawn. (To some, it still hasn't!) Critical of science.... Yeah, I think so, in terms of questioning whether it had all the answers. I don't sense that Shelley's saying hard science is bad; just that it's not to be toyed with. More exploration needs to be done. 3. Upon his completion of his work, Victor turns away in horror and disgust from what he has done. He seems unable to face the creature or treat it as a living being. How is Victor's failure symbolic of other social failures? I'm not sure what you mean by "social failures." I don't think the creature is a failure; rather, it's the beginning of scientific discovery. Edison and his thousand and one attempts at harnessing the power of electricity. The only thing that comes to mind is that Frankenstein doesn't take responsibility for what he's done. He leaves the creature in his apartment, and runs off! How's this living being supposed to live? Eventually, it will break out. What will happen then? What has he unleashed into the world? He never once thinks of that; he takes zero responsibility. Diana
Frequent Contributor
Sensorymoments
Posts: 169
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Discuss the Early Chapters



LizzieAnn wrote:
First I have to comment that everything I thought I knew about Frankenstein was so different than the actual novel. Having never read the book before, all I have is years of media hype - movies & shows, interpretations, and even Halloween costumes!

The actual story is different, not only on a deep level of the story & its emotions, but also on so many of the superficial. The creature never had a name, let alone that of his creator; yellow skin as opposed to the accepted green; no castle in a village; assistant; and although the implication is of electricity & lightning - no details are given as to the creature's birth.

I was surprised that the book opened on letters from Robert Walton, but the similiarities can be seen. Walton, like Victor, are driven by a need to achieve something phenomenal. Each leaves behind a woman he loves - one a sister, the other like a sister & soon to be so much more. They isolate themselves in their quest; driven by ambition that all else falls away. Their endeavors are all that matter. They are also alone, even when others are with them. And Walton seeing the creature before coming upon Victor was staggering - it foretold the horror to come.

Victor becomes motivated after hearing his chemistry professor, M. Walden, lecture and then speak to him personally. When Walden tells Victor that early philosophers laid the groundwork for their current science; that those early men helped open up mankind to many new learnings; and that his contemporaries were accomplishing so much in learning about nature - he somehow strikes a spark that ignites Victor's interest and passion. Victor wants to be a pioneer in his field - to explore the unknown - to discover & conquer the mysteries of nature & life. I don't know if Shelley is so much critical of science as saying that everything needs to be tempered with humanity, reason, & common sense - that caution must be taken and responsibility accepted.

Victor's failures are totally symbolic of the failings of society: to fear that which is different or not the socially accepted "norm"; to lack compassion; to avoid instead of help; to run from responsibility instead of accepting it; to ignore instead of face; to refuse to believe that actions have consequences that cannot be avoided.

Liz




forgive me for taking this response another way, but sometimes when i read someone elses words, somehting else popped into my head that never occured before.

I am still only on chapter four
but with the discussion that his skin is yellow....could it have to do with the aspect of race? I'm just curious. Yellow skin is usually understood as someone who is either oriental, or sometimes it is considered someone of middle eastern/eastern european decent?

Was Mary Shelley's child from a ethnic father?.....i don't know much about this...
Owy

*Taking everyday, one book at a time*
Frequent Contributor
Kourt
Posts: 133
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Discuss the Early Chapters

Is it possible to relate this to postpartum depression? Women who want little to do with their newborns?
Frequent Contributor
ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

yellow skin

That's an interesting take on it, Owy. It certainly could be part of the European feeling of superiority over other cultures. However, my vote would be for an allusion to jaundice (where the skin is discolored yellow due to various diseases), which would emphasize the unhealthy aspect of the creature.
Frequent Contributor
LizzieAnn
Posts: 2,344
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Yellow Skin

I don't believe that it had anything at all to do with ethnicity. I understood it just to be dead skin - skin that had been without blood & life and had dried out. Victor composed his creature of various body parts that he "appropriated" mostly likely from the poorer cemetaries and maybe even leftover cadavers from the medical institute where he was studying. (I can't get the picture out of my head of a man skulking around cemetaries, digging up bodies, cutting off parts, and hurrying away with them. Imagination is pretty powerful.)



Sensorymoments wrote:

forgive me for taking this response another way, but sometimes when i read someone elses words, somehting else popped into my head that never occured before.

I am still only on chapter four
but with the discussion that his skin is yellow....could it have to do with the aspect of race? I'm just curious. Yellow skin is usually understood as someone who is either oriental, or sometimes it is considered someone of middle eastern/eastern european decent?

Was Mary Shelley's child from a ethnic father?.....i don't know much about this...


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
Frequent Contributor
ELee
Posts: 418
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

cartoon creature

In my ramblings, I found a cartoon by Dick Wright using the Frankenstein monster. In it the monster is seated on a chair. His massive torso is clothed in a T-shirt and blazer (as well as pants, of course!). Said pants stop considerably short of his oversized feet, which are shod with large clodhopper boots. From a rather thick and scarred neck (complete with the characteristic "bolts"), his head becomes smaller and narrower - flat topped and fringed with spikey hair above the severely protruding brow. He is holding an open newspaper with the headline "Human Stem Cell Research Debated", and is saying:

"So whats the big deal? What could go wrong?"
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Discuss the Early Chapters



Sensorymoments wrote:


LizzieAnn wrote:
First I have to comment that everything I thought I knew about Frankenstein was so different than the actual novel. Having never read the book before, all I have is years of media hype - movies & shows, interpretations, and even Halloween costumes!

The actual story is different, not only on a deep level of the story & its emotions, but also on so many of the superficial. The creature never had a name, let alone that of his creator; yellow skin as opposed to the accepted green; no castle in a village; assistant; and although the implication is of electricity & lightning - no details are given as to the creature's birth.

I was surprised that the book opened on letters from Robert Walton, but the similiarities can be seen. Walton, like Victor, are driven by a need to achieve something phenomenal. Each leaves behind a woman he loves - one a sister, the other like a sister & soon to be so much more. They isolate themselves in their quest; driven by ambition that all else falls away. Their endeavors are all that matter. They are also alone, even when others are with them. And Walton seeing the creature before coming upon Victor was staggering - it foretold the horror to come.

Victor becomes motivated after hearing his chemistry professor, M. Walden, lecture and then speak to him personally. When Walden tells Victor that early philosophers laid the groundwork for their current science; that those early men helped open up mankind to many new learnings; and that his contemporaries were accomplishing so much in learning about nature - he somehow strikes a spark that ignites Victor's interest and passion. Victor wants to be a pioneer in his field - to explore the unknown - to discover & conquer the mysteries of nature & life. I don't know if Shelley is so much critical of science as saying that everything needs to be tempered with humanity, reason, & common sense - that caution must be taken and responsibility accepted.

Victor's failures are totally symbolic of the failings of society: to fear that which is different or not the socially accepted "norm"; to lack compassion; to avoid instead of help; to run from responsibility instead of accepting it; to ignore instead of face; to refuse to believe that actions have consequences that cannot be avoided.

Liz




forgive me for taking this response another way, but sometimes when i read someone elses words, somehting else popped into my head that never occured before.

I am still only on chapter four
but with the discussion that his skin is yellow....could it have to do with the aspect of race? I'm just curious. Yellow skin is usually understood as someone who is either oriental, or sometimes it is considered someone of middle eastern/eastern european decent?

Was Mary Shelley's child from a ethnic father?.....i don't know much about this...





I am responding to this a bit late: I don't think that Yellow skin means there is any ethnicity involved. It is often used as a description of someone with 'jaundice', or being ill, particularly someone being anaemic - in this case someone without any blood. The word jaundice comes from the Old French for yellow. Being jaundiced also means to be world-weary or bitter and jaundice has to do with illnesses involving bile - one of the seven deadly humours in ancient literature.
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

yellow skin

[ Edited ]
But it is also possible that an author reveals racial bias without intentionally doing it. I.e.: She shows the assumptions of her time. I'm thinking of how so many authors have used descriptives like "dark skinned" or "yellow skinned"--as an assumed shortcut to "strange."

In Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, here's a line:
"Elizabeth [Mrs. Dalloways's daughter]...had Chinese eyes in a pale face...was gentle, considerate, still."
That's a sort of Orientalizing that seems clear to us with time, but was a conventional shortcut for description then.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-11-200610:52 AM




Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


New User
lost_grrl
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎11-12-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Discuss the Early Chapters

Several people have mentioned the fact that Mary was preganant during much of the time she was writing the book, but I think that the fact that she had already lost one baby shortly after birth and was rumored to have already had at least one miscarriage was just as relevant, if not more so. Her mother also suffered several miscarriages (and Mary continued to have problems with pregnancies, almost dying from one miscarriage, throughout her reproductive years). She was facinated with creation and the responsibilities that went with it--but also with all of the things that could go on (did doctor Frankenstein intend to create a "monster", is it the mother's fault if something goes horribly wrong in the creation process).
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

not mom's fault

Hey! Nice last thought there: that if something goes horribly wrong in the pregnancy and birthing process, it's not the "fault" of the person giving birth, but says loads about the mystery of the process.



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Frequent Contributor
Sensorymoments
Posts: 169
Registered: ‎10-25-2006
0 Kudos

Re: yellow skin



IlanaSimons wrote:
But it is also possible that an author reveals racial bias without intentionally doing it. I.e.: She shows the assumptions of her time. I'm thinking of how so many authors have used descriptives like "dark skinned" or "yellow skinned"--as an assumed shortcut to "strange."

In Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, here's a line:
"Elizabeth [Mrs. Dalloways's daughter]...had Chinese eyes in a pale face...was gentle, considerate, still."
That's a sort of Orientalizing that seems clear to us with time, but was a conventional shortcut for description then.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-11-200610:52 AM






I just finished reading chapters 5 and 6 and it is interesting to note that he was talking about a friend who was incredibly interesting in learning oriental languages, including arabic and the like. All these "races" are generally considered "yellow" by yesterday's streotypes.

Perhaps he was learning oriental langauges because of the "yellow" of his skin pointing towards the orient ??? ....I'm not the best an analyzing the details I read, but I pick up on things like this sometime....so I hope nobody minds my lack of organization..if anything I speak up so that someone may run away with what I say :smileywink:
Owy

*Taking everyday, one book at a time*
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

clerval and the joy of languages

[ Edited ]
Yes--neat point. Victor has made the yellow-skinned monster and is dying of stress and gloom, and his friend Clerval comes to town and cheers him up by telling him to learn oriental languages or read non-western authors.

Victor does and feels delighted: "When you read their writings, life appears to consist in a warm sun and a garden of roses--in the smiles and frowns of a fair enemy, and the fire that consumes your own heart. How different from the manly and heroical poetry of Greece and Rome!"

It'll be interesting to notice the moments in the book in which Shelley refers to non-western races. She does it a lot. Do you think she romanticizes the "yellow skinned"--or how does she think of them?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-12-200611:06 PM




Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Frequent Contributor
donyskiw
Posts: 578
Registered: ‎10-19-2006
0 Kudos

Re: clerval and the joy of languages

I think romantices is a good word. Shelley was of a more enlightened and educated circle but at this time period there was more of the "noble savage" kind of approach about other cultures still going on from the educated groups.

Denise
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

the Romantic poets and the East

[ Edited ]
Yes--see the Romantic notion of the East in Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan." Coleridge had a big influence on Shelley, and he romanticized the East:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:

[in Xanadu find:]

that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-13-200601:42 PM




Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Shelley and non-western races



IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes--neat point. Victor has made the yellow-skinned monster and is dying of stress and gloom, and his friend Clerval comes to town and cheers him up by telling him to learn oriental languages or read non-western authors.

Victor does and feels delighted: "When you read their writings, life appears to consist in a warm sun and a garden of roses--in the smiles and frowns of a fair enemy, and the fire that consumes your own heart. How different from the manly and heroical poetry of Greece and Rome!"

It'll be interesting to notice the moments in the book in which Shelley refers to non-western races. She does it a lot. Do you think she romanticizes the "yellow skinned"--or how does she think of them?

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-12-200611:06 PM







I think MS is doing what a lot of us probably do in the face of the racism we might find in our society - trying to counteract it by speaking of the good points about other races and religions. I am sure that in America today there are a lot of journaliststs, TV commentators etc speaking well of Islam in the face of the terrorist threats we all face from disillusioned and fanatical Muslims. In Victorian times non-western, 'coloured' races were thought to be an inferior species but well educated, well travelled people like the Shelleys, Byron and their 'crowd' would be likely to hold the more enlightened views express here by MS. In this she would not disappoint her mother:smileyhappy:
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: the Romantic poets and the East



IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes--see the Romantic notion of the East in Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan." Coleridge had a big influence on Shelley, and he romanticized the East:

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:

[in Xanadu find:]

that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-13-200601:42 PM







C S Lewis thought that the Romantic Poets were expressing 'Sehnsucht' the German word for a 'tearful longing'. It was also described as an 'ecstatic desire for union with nature', or a 'sweet melancholy' which has no cause. In this sense, whatever was missing from their lives was seen in a romantic light. Had they lived in the East they would have been longing for the West but as so little was known by them about the East they romanticised the mystery of it. It was also a form of Utopianism, a longing for a better, purer world, free from poverty and strife. They saw the bountiful nature of the tropics - exotic fruits growing freely, exotic perfume like sandalwood, exotic fabric woven by silk worms etc etc. - as being preferable to the grey, gloomy and industrialised landscape of Victorian England. It was a paradise on earth, a Xanadu. MS is following these trains of thought when she romanticises the Middle East, the Orient and the lives of 'yellow skinned' people.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: cartoon creature



ELee wrote:
In my ramblings, I found a cartoon by Dick Wright using the Frankenstein monster. In it the monster is seated on a chair. His massive torso is clothed in a T-shirt and blazer (as well as pants, of course!). Said pants stop considerably short of his oversized feet, which are shod with large clodhopper boots. From a rather thick and scarred neck (complete with the characteristic "bolts"), his head becomes smaller and narrower - flat topped and fringed with spikey hair above the severely protruding brow. He is holding an open newspaper with the headline "Human Stem Cell Research Debated", and is saying:

"So whats the big deal? What could go wrong?"





Yet another example of the debt we owe to Mary Shelley for keeping at the forefont of our minds that we too could create Frankensteins. Yet, in her book, there is also the implied assumption that had Victor Frankenstein dealt with his monster in a better way, he, and maybe his partner, could have become a force for good. Thus it may be with stem cell and other such research.
Inspired Contributor
Choisya
Posts: 10,782
Registered: ‎10-26-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Mom's fault the Bible says



IlanaSimons wrote:
Hey! Nice last thought there: that if something goes horribly wrong in the pregnancy and birthing process, it's not the "fault" of the person giving birth, but says loads about the mystery of the process.





But then again Ms would have been aware of the many references in the Bible to the 'travail' of women, the hard labour, painful birth etc., which was known as the Curse of Eve, Genesis 3:16: Unto the woman [God] said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thy shalt bring forth children... This lays the blame upon the woman and her 'sin', stemming from the Garden of Eden. Victorians would have thought that painful childbirth, miscarriages etc. were 'God's will' and even if MS herself was more enlightened than this (through the teachings of her parents) there would be those around her who would reinforce these beliefs, particularly as she had 'lived in sin' with Parcy Bysshe Shelley.
Blogger
IlanaSimons
Posts: 2,223
Registered: ‎10-20-2006
0 Kudos

Re: Shelley and non-western races

[ Edited ]
Yes: As if to counteract racism, I sometimes voice my uneducated, simple, loud, and positive views about others.
But then again Shelley was also delivering a big critique here: She called the Muslim world backward in its view of women. She paints Safie's father, the Turk, as a big, lying bully.
Wanna tell us something about MS's parents? I don't know enough about them.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-14-200605:18 PM




Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


Users Online
Currently online: 70 members 493 guests
Please welcome our newest community members: