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LitEditor
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Discuss the Later Chapters

These discussion topics are suitable for readers who have finished -- or nearly finished -- Frankenstein.

1. What is the significance of the polar location of the final confrontation of the novel? What symbolic value does the landscape of ice and isolation suggest?

2. To what extent was this novel influenced by the work of fellow Romantic writers, like Mary Shelley's husband Percy Bysshe Shelley, or Byron and Coleridge? If you are familiar with their poetry, can you see places in which Mary Shelley's work resonates with theirs?

3. The novel is subtitled "The Modern Prometheus" -- Prometheus is the figure in Greek mythology who steals the divine fire and gives it to mankind (thus implanting human beings with life and self-consciousness). The association seems heroic. Is Victor in any sense heroic? Is his fate a tragic one? What about the monster? Is he a hero -- or only the victim of Victor's neglect and hubris?


Post your thoughts about these questions by clicking "Reply" -- or start a new topic of your own by going back to the main board and selecting "New Message."

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Choisya
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Re: Ilana: Will I get to the later Chapters?

[ Edited ]
Not being able to delete the messages I have read is proving very tiresome and time-consuming. So much so that I do not think I will get around to discussing the later chapters. Also, the email facility, which I thought would prove useful, is sending me everything in duplicate and is sending the whole page, not the message which replies to mine. There are a few bugs in this new system which need urgent attention!

The new system is not as conducive to discussion as the old one and I really would like to know why it has been so drastically changed. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, why fix it??? It is noticeable that there are far fewer readers here than on previous boards and that many B&N regulars have not joined in - I therefore wonder whether it was the intention of B&N to weed a lot of people out. Was the old system was a victim of its own success?

Message Edited by Choisya on 11-01-200610:32 PM

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chadadanielleKR
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Re: Ilana: Will I get to the later Chapters?



Choisya wrote:
Not being able to delete the messages I have read is proving very tiresome and time-consuming. So much so that I do not think I will get around to discussing the later chapters. Also, the email facility, which I thought would prove useful, is sending me everything in duplicate and is sending the whole page, not the message which replies to mine. There are a few bugs in this new system which need urgent attention!

The new system is not as conducive to discussion as the old one and I really would like to know why it has been so drastically changed. As the old saying goes, if it ain't broke, why fix it??? It is noticeable that there are far fewer readers here than on previous boards and that many B&N regulars have not joined in - I therefore wonder whether it was the intention of B&N to weed a lot of people out. Was the old system was a victim of its own success?

Message Edited by Choisya on 11-01-200610:32 PM






Hi Choisya,
I could not have said it better than you did. Glad to read you again.I hope thatB&N will manage to get around all "the problems" and, hopefully, there might be some improvements to come. In the meantime, this new format is getting irritating, especially for those who are short of time!! All the best.
Danielle
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IlanaSimons
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reply about new system

Hi Choisya and Danielle,
I'm sorry for your frustrations with this system. That said, I have been enjoying your posts. Choisya, you've gotten me to think about the question of soul, and of certain political questions, in this book--and even if the system isn't perfect, I do hope you continue to post.
I have relayed your comments to others here at B&N
Ilana



Ilana
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ELee
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Framing the story

As it is difficult to comment on "half" of a frame, I have moved this comment from the Early Chapters to this section so as not to create a spoiler...


By opening and closing the story of Frankenstein and his creature with a third narrator, Captain Robert Walton, Shelley creates an access for readers that live “among the tamer scenes of nature”, who are “unacquainted with” its “ever-varied powers”. By Walton’s account, “the letters of Felix and Safie, which he showed me, and the apparition of the monster seen from our ship” offers tangible proof that lends credence to the whole story. The fantastic occurrences in VF’s tale that “appear possible in these wild and mysterious regions”, must be grounded, much like the physical phenomenon of electricity. Walton’s ending narrative also briefly exposes the reader to the creature sans VF, and relates to this last human being an emotional petition for understand before the finality of immolation.
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ELee
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Chapter 17 Acorns and berries

During his efforts to persuade VF to create a companion for him, the creature stated that he and his consort would go to South America and never be seen again.

"My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment."

Interestingly, Mary Shelley and her husband were both advocates of vegetarianism. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote several essays supporting a vegetarian diet.
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IlanaSimons
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Re: Framing the story

Nice comment, ELee. It's funny to think of how handwritten letters could seem to provide authentic documentation then. Seems sweetly antiquated, doesn't it?



Ilana
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Re: Chapter 17 Acorns and berries

I did not know that about the Shelleys! Thanks ELee :smileyhappy: I wonder though why Mary had the creature specifically mention lambs and kids? Maybe it's to bring attention to the innocence of the animals, rather than using sows and heifers which seems kind of mundane.



ELee wrote:
During his efforts to persuade VF to create a companion for him, the creature stated that he and his consort would go to South America and never be seen again.

"My food is not that of man; I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment."

Interestingly, Mary Shelley and her husband were both advocates of vegetarianism. Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote several essays supporting a vegetarian diet.


Melissa W.
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donyskiw
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Re: Discuss the Later Chapters

1. The monster was not planning to live. He was going to destroy Frankenstein and himself in the process and the ice and desolation of the North Pole was his aid because the land would eventually kill them both anyway. The ice and desolation were representative of what the monster felt his life was without a mate in a world he couldn't be accepted in.

3. Victor is not a hero in this tale. His fate is tragic because he gets himself in a situation where he must make a decision to risk a few (his loved ones) in order to save many (all those that may be harmed by the creation of yet another creature not bound by a promise to leave peaceably in solitude). The monster is not a hero, he does not have to go around killing others. He is in a way a victim but he is also still a monster, he chooses to murder for revenge rather than accept the fate Victor gave him. He may have even succeeded in convincing Victor to create a mate for him if he had not started out by killing Victor's brother and then threatening him with more violence.

Denise
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ELee
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Lambs and kids

LOL! You're probably right, they are more esthetically appealing...but wouldn't we be practicing a little Frankensteinian prejudice by relegating the less attractive sows and heifers to the mundane?!
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ELee
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What Victor wants

Diana made a good point in the Early section when she stated that VF and Walton "want adventure, knowledge, and to be great -- to the point of megalomania!" and that VF's particular motivation for carrying on his work is "Knowledge, to understand the principles of life, to be great and remembered forever." Denise also points out that "he gets himself in a situation where he must make a decision to risk a few (his loved ones) in order to save many". On the one hand he would "pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation". On the other hand, when considering the impact of creating a second creature, VF "shuddered to think that future ages might curse [him] as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price...of the existence of the whole human race". Having been consistently preoccupied with his importance and fame in relation to the whole of humanity, how sad is it that in the end "He is dead who called me into being, and when I shall be no more the very remembrance of us both will speedily vanish."
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Re: What Victor wants


ELee wrote:
...when considering the impact of creating a second creature, VF shuddered to think that future ages might curse him as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price of the existence of the whole human race ...




You know, I just had to scratch my head when I got to the point where Victor was assembling the female and then stopped his work because he was afraid of two such creatures breeding. I mean, if he was genius enough to build an anatomically correct and fully functioning male, why could he not make a slightly less correct female? Tie her tubes or, better yet, just engineer out that whole monthtly cycle? The creature would have been happy to have a mate. His mate would have been happy not to deal with hormone surges and water retention. And Victor would have been unencumberd and free to return home and make little, poorly disciplined monsters with Elizabeth.

Just me taking a fictional story too seriously,
Robin in VA
Quickly, bring me a beaker of wine so I may wet my mind and say something clever. --Aristophanes
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The Polar Location

Besides the obvious, of the polar location being, literally, the end of the earth/world - it's cold and hard. A harsh place where harsh action takes place. It's symbolic of the harsh journey that Victor undertakes to chase & confront the monster - and the tragedy that will occur. Because it is plain that at least of them, if not both, would not return.

Victor researched & strove to rival nature, to create life - warm, light, etc. After his creation came to be, Victor recoiled - both from the monster & what it stood for. The polar setting symbolized the opposite of creation - a place devoid of the warmth, the greenery, the foliage, & the life of nature. It is stark...without the sun shining on green grass & flowers blooming...without birds singing and squirrels running up tree.

It also mirrors Victor's depression and the emptiness of his life since he's lost those he loved. It also represents the monster's existence: abandoned, alone, feared, bleak.




LitEditor wrote:

1. What is the significance of the polar location of the final confrontation of the novel? What symbolic value does the landscape of ice and isolation suggest?

Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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Re: What Victor wants

Robin, you make an excellent point and one that was in my mind as well. Couldn't he just remove the necessary female organs to prevent pregnancy? Perhaps the knowledge, tools, and techniques to accomplish such a procedure were not available at the time.




zebulak wrote:

ELee wrote:
...when considering the impact of creating a second creature, VF shuddered to think that future ages might curse him as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price of the existence of the whole human race ...




You know, I just had to scratch my head when I got to the point where Victor was assembling the female and then stopped his work because he was afraid of two such creatures breeding. I mean, if he was genius enough to build an anatomically correct and fully functioning male, why could he not make a slightly less correct female? Tie her tubes or, better yet, just engineer out that whole monthtly cycle? The creature would have been happy to have a mate. His mate would have been happy not to deal with hormone surges and water retention. And Victor would have been unencumberd and free to return home and make little, poorly disciplined monsters with Elizabeth.

Just me taking a fictional story too seriously,
Robin in VA


Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
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LizzieAnn
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The Modern Prometheus

[ Edited ]
There are no heroes in this story. Victor is anything but. He began a quest to rival God & nature: to create life. He never thought of the consequences; he never considered that what he would bring to life could be flawed or evil or uncontrollable. In the end, this lack of forethought, Victor's hubris, and his blind ambition cost him everything: the lives of those he loved as well as his own.

As to the monster, he begins as a victim. He's much as a child - he did not ask to be, he needed care and guidance. Unfortunately, he doesn't receive it. To Victor he is an unwanted and abandoned child. However, on his own the creature does acquire knowledge - enough to judge not only Victor's actions but his own. At that point he choses the path he works and the evil he commits.

The Prometheus connection is that the fire gives life. In mythology divine fire is stolen to give humans life & self-consciousness. In Frankenstein, fire (in the form of the spark of lightning & electricity) gives life to the creature. Frankenstein is Prometheus.




LitEditor wrote:

3. The novel is subtitled "The Modern Prometheus" -- Prometheus is the figure in Greek mythology who steals the divine fire and gives it to mankind (thus implanting human beings with life and self-consciousness). The association seems heroic. Is Victor in any sense heroic? Is his fate a tragic one? What about the monster? Is he a hero -- or only the victim of Victor's neglect and hubris?


Post your thoughts about these questions by clicking "Reply" -- or start a new topic of your own by going back to the main board and selecting "New Message."

Message Edited by LizzieAnn on 11-02-200608:44 PM

Liz ♥ ♥


Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested. ~ Francis Bacon
Melissa_W
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Re: What Victor wants

That is a great point, Robin. The monster wanted companionship, not to create mini-monsters. But thinking back to how people thought of conception in early 19th century England, Shelley wouldn't have known that to make a baby you need sperm, ova, and a lot of luck. If Victor believed that "life" was that same spark he uses to animate the monster, he would also believe that spark is passed from mother to child, making his female abomination capable of having children (even though we know, from a 21st century standpoint, that he/Shelley could easily work around that step).



zebulak wrote:

ELee wrote:
...when considering the impact of creating a second creature, VF shuddered to think that future ages might curse him as their pest, whose selfishness had not hesitated to buy its own peace at the price of the existence of the whole human race ...




You know, I just had to scratch my head when I got to the point where Victor was assembling the female and then stopped his work because he was afraid of two such creatures breeding. I mean, if he was genius enough to build an anatomically correct and fully functioning male, why could he not make a slightly less correct female? Tie her tubes or, better yet, just engineer out that whole monthtly cycle? The creature would have been happy to have a mate. His mate would have been happy not to deal with hormone surges and water retention. And Victor would have been unencumberd and free to return home and make little, poorly disciplined monsters with Elizabeth.

Just me taking a fictional story too seriously,
Robin in VA


Melissa W.
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ELee
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Frankenstein's Legacy

Shelley recognized a basic human tendency that is still with us today: our passion to move an idea forward to fulfillment without enough care and consideration as to consequences. In our fast-paced, convenience-seeking society, the implementation of consumer/household plastics (containers, implements, storage) has become a kind of “creature”. Science has done such a good job of developing something that is light, durable and multipurpose, that it will “outlive” many generations of human beings. This very immunity to decomposition is now an ongoing problem. Like VF, we have previously “run away” from this issue by burying it in large holes in the earth or dumping it into the ocean. Careless disposal by humans has caused it to seriously endanger and sometimes kill what is left of the wildlife on our planet. And it wasn’t until the negative consequences of it’s irresponsible handling had a widespread effect that active recycling was promoted.

I really relate to EvieJoy’s comment in the Early Chapters; “This always reminds me of a favorite line from Jurassic Park - You were so busy asking if you could (restore dinosaurs to the earth with all the risks that would entail) that you never asked whether or not you should.”

I have always felt that this thought is particularly relevant to the medical sciences. So many times the quality of life is sacrificed for quantity; simply because we can do it. I don’t know that it is “right” to prolong existence (by any and all means) simply for its own sake, ignoring the pain, suffering and lack of dignity that it frequently causes.
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ELee
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Shelley and Biology

The successful longevity of “Frankenstein” is due in part to the fact that Shelley did not delve into details about the “scientific” aspects of the creature’s beginning. Robin in VA expressed it very well; “Shelly's brilliance was leaving out the details and letting the readers' imaginations fill in the blanks.”

Current readers may have a tendency to relate to the author and her story as if she were a contemporary, but we must remember that the average person (male or female) of today knows so much more on a casual basis about general science than the people of her time.

The “biology” of the creature is of particular interest. As VF approaches completion of the mate he has agreed to design for his hapless product, in one of his tortured mental ramblings, he concludes that “she might become ten thousand times more malignant” and that the first results of her union with his creature would be “a race of devils” who might make the existence of mankind “a condition precarious and full of terror”. I wonder; did Shelley ignore the possibility that a creature composed of dead body parts and reanimated by artificial means might not possess the capability to reproduce for the sake of the story? Or was she innocent of the basic knowledge that we own, and thus in her reasoning it naturally followed that anything “living” would be able to pass on the miracle of life to it’s progeny?
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IlanaSimons
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on recycling and Euthanasia: neat comments

Neat comments here, ELee: That our modern abandoned monster is our trash--left to the landfills and the air we breathe.
And: our mechanical approach to science can be seen in our chorus that “life is sacred”--through which we only mean we _must_ _make_ _life_ happen_, without attending to what quality of life actually makes living worthwhile.



Ilana
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ELee
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Question for Ilana

Ilana,
Can you give us some idea of the specific changes that Shelley made to the 1831 publishing of "Frankenstein"? What I've read says that she "toned it down", but I was wondering what the differences were (without having to read the second version myself!!)
Thanks,
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