14 April 2019
Frankenstein Lives On
The monster I chose to show the causal relationship for is the original Mary Shelly novel Frankenstein. This story pioneered not only the genre of Horror it self, but spawned a new idea of what could be lurking in the dark. Some asks why did Frankenstein strike fear into people. Others ask why does Frankenstein give such a lasting impression. Lastly why will Frankenstein give life to future generations of horror and monsters. Theres two other monsters specifically I’ll show relationships of to better understand how Frankenstein and his monster lives on.
The first iconic monster to hit big time novels in the newest genre of horror was the book Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Frankenstein probably struck such fear into people because nobody else before Mary had the idea of such a human monster created by science before. Mary not only took the idea of half-man and half-undead, but then added a new factor that took this to a whole new level. Frankenstein’s monster was put together from the best parts of many different dead bodies then brought back to life from Dr. Victor Frankenstein through science fiction. This new monster was brought to life and cheated death, something well against the idea of God and religion of the time. This contributing factor of what humans could do with science and go against human nature is what struck fear into people. This is incidentally why Frankenstein gave such a lasting impression as well. For hundreds of years people only believed in mythical creatures, mummies, and vampires. None created by science and instead all of those ideas that were stretched from an initial truth to intimidate society. What Mary did was take a new idea and make people fear the worst for what could happen in the future for not only science, but what monsters could become.
The next rendition of Frankenstein and his monster became Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll created by Robert Stevenson. Fifty years after Mary produced her first horror novel a new story surfaced following the same steps. This time Dr. Jekyll didn’t bring back the dead from different parts of dead bodies, instead this Doctor created a potion that would turn himself into a beast. The science evolved from bringing back the dead and trying to be peaceful to turning into a beast and wrecking havoc in the middle of the night. As science progressed the idea of horror did too becoming one person with a split personality instead of one person and a creation. This creates the new idea that anyone could be a monster on the inside and you would never know the difference when the sun fell and the moon rose. Robert saw as times went on nobody could create the new Frankenstein and took the idea into his own hands to give the new society a scare they couldn’t forget.
As the evolution changes from Frankenstein and his monster to Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll to who is now Dr. Bruce Banner and Hulk created by Stan Lee. The late Stan Lee was able to re-imagine the two-faced internal beast eighty years later from Mr. Hyde and Dr. Jekyll. The original idea introduces new science such as gamma radiation and exploiting genetic mutation. This changes the idea of a doctor from purposefully taking a potion to loose control in the night to now a man who can loose control at any time to unleash a monster who can’t be stopped. The Hulk is a beast who can’t be stopped by bullets, radiation, or emotions. An unstoppable monster could mean the never ending scare of what science could produce and can’t be reversed, we never know what humans are capable of and should still live in fear. This 1980s comic not only spawned the next generation of what Frankenstein was, but created a whole sci-fi universe which we know as marvel. This definitely gave a lasting impression for the last ten years with many movies to analyze against the old ideas of what Frankenstein represented.
Each of these authors embody the ideas of Jeffery Cohen with his works of, Monster Theory. Cohen’s second theory in particularly, “The Monster Always Returns” is a perfect example of how the progression of monsters has taken place. Because each of these stories are from a different time they take after different cultures as well and Cohen says it best. “…strings of cultural moments, connected by logic that always threatens to shift”(6). All three of these creatures are from a culture who come upon shifts in science and the dangers that are associated. Obviously these authors exaggerate the imagination on what could happen, but preparing for the worst and putting it into perspective. Playing with science or the natural balance of nature could become deadly since its so uncontrollable. As time passes on the next monster shall embodied the next cultural scientific shock possibly being time travel or another form of alien as we explore space.
Mary Shelley gave the world something new to fear in the form of sci-fi horror. Science being the main culprit behind mad doctors who create a beast. Each of these monsters put fear into society in different ways, but each had the sole purpose of teach society a lesson. Don’t play with nature. Bringing back the dead, creating potions to turn into a creature, or unleash a beast from genetic mutation. Each of these monster left a lasting impression from the last two-hundred years and many more to come. As times have progressed horror has changed into action thrillers, but society still finds enjoyment one way or another using their imagination and have new fears as technology advances.
Cohen, Jeffrey Jerome. “Monster Culture: Seven Theses.” From Monster Theory: Reading Culture. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1996. 3-25.
Lee, Stan Lieber. The Incredible Hulk. Text. Marvel Comics: Dez Skin Ohio 1962 – Present
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851. Frankenstein, Or, The Modern Prometheus : the 1818 Text. Oxford ; New York :Oxford University Press, 1998. Print.
Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. London :New English Library, 1974. Print.