August 30th is National Frankenstein Day, and I couldn’t be happier. Frankenstein, written in 1818 by an eighteen-year-old Mary Wollstoncraft Godwin Shelley, remains an amazingly relevant story to this day. My guess is it will probably continue accruing meaning hundreds of years from now.
Written in the devastating aftermath of the death of her baby, Mary Shelley’s story is a fevered imagining of bringing the dead to life. But it’s so much more than that, and the theme of man seeking control over nature, only to be destroyed by his unnatural creation, was one plumbed by cultures for thousands of years.
Humans are intrinsically curious and intensely creative. The desire to create life and to undo death is understandable and even relatable.
Crazy Scientist, Misunderstood Creature
In every iteration of this story, starting with the original, Victor Frankenstein is mad because the desire to have dominion over life and death and the will to try it is hubris of the highest order. The Creature, whether made of clay as in the Golem stories, or cobbled from cadavers as with Mary Shelley’s monster, is an unnatural being, an outsider. He tries his best, but he simply can’t be one of us, humans, and he is doomed to misery from the outset.
Family Drama in Disguise
Or maybe not so disguised. The mad father fashions his child to do his bidding, and the child, never quite getting the hang of what the father wants, becomes his own person. Mutual destruction ensues. Talk about relatable!
What is your favorite take on the Frankenstein tale?
Her short stories appear in the Bouchercon 2023 Anthology, A Stranger Comes to Town: edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.