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Mary Shelleys Frankenstein Myth for Modern Man How can we think of Frankenstein and ignore the film classic of 1931who can forget the remarkable appearance of Boris Karloff as the unnamed monster Yet the celebrated film does not follow the novel by Mary Shelley Although the scene of a futuristic laboratory entrances movie audiences with the mad Dr Frankenstein and his faithful assistant Igor the scene is derived from twentieth century imaginations and interests not the novel itself In the novel however Dr Frankensteins goal is to create a new kind of person a sovereign self in control of its environment and its own biology and mind that will be eternally grateful to him Mary Shelleys monster continues to repel and to appeal to a wide audience Rapt audiences still regard dramatic interpretations of the novel Frankenstein as some of the most innovative film pieces of their time Yet film interpretations distort the novel For good reason the novelist chose not to begin her story with the chilling event of the dreary night in November Instead of a major event the book opens with a series of letters from Robert Walton It is not his zeal for the voyage of discovery but his obsession with fame a metaphorical way to live on that drives him to the unknown in hopes of being credited with expanding mankinds knowledge and control of the universe Similarly Victor Frankenstein is drawn to the mysteries of experiments with the unknown Early in his education he read about alchemists and early natural philosophers and becomes so impressed with the power of electricity that he makes it his mission to harness it to procure mans place among the gods But unlike the familiar films no faithful Igor helped him rob graves or assisted him in an extravagant futuristic laboratory In the novel Frankenstein tells no one of his experiments and worked alone on his filthy creation in the cell at the
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