Tonight, I joined a friend to watch the 1931 film, Frankenstein; and I was left with one thought, “who is the monster?”.
Most of us grew up with the idea that the character, “Frankenstein”, is the monster/creation in the movie, but (if you read the book) and watch the film adaptations closely you will notice that the creation/experiment is never given a name. He is not Frankenstein. The character, “Frankenstein”, is actually the scientist who chooses to defy the laws of nature, and attempts to bring dead tissue to life. When he succeeds, he then tries to communicate with the creation as he continues with his research. In the 1931 adaptation, you learn that his fiancé, friend, and mentor are aware of Frankenstein’s experiment, and they allow him to continue with his research. His mentor even encourages him and remains by his side. (So are they the monsters?). Then Frankenstein places his lab assistant in charge of the “creation”. The lab assistant treats the experiment with disrespect and uses force to correct him, or perhaps to emphasize inferiority v. superiority between the two. (So is the lab assistant “the monster”?). After some time of mistreatment and abuse, the “creation” longs for freedom and in his desperation loses control and kills the lab assistant and mentor. The “creation” then encounters a young girl near a lake, who treats him with compassion and kindness, she teaches him to throw flowers in the lake because they float. Excited, he seeks to find other things that float and throws the child (who didn’t know how to swim) into the lake. As the film continues, the “creation” stumbles upon Frankenstein’s home, and recognizing the fiancée he excitedly tries to communicate with her. The fiancée startled, panicks, and begins to wrestle him leading into what is later interpreted as an attack. The entire village in an outrage decide to hunt and kill the “creation”. In the end Frankenstein faces his “creation” and gets injured, so the “creation” takes him back to the only place he knew as home. This leads to another confrontation causing Frankenstein to fly off the building, (mob interprets it as attempted murder) and they burn the windmill down trapping and terminating the “creation’s” existence.
So, is he the monster? The “creation” did kill three individuals and harmed two, isn’t that what defines a monster? Especially because he showed no remorse for his actions.. yet again was it his fault? Did he ask to be brought to life? Wasn’t he mistreated? Terrorized? Misunderstood? Isn’t it his creator’s fault, for not taking responsibility over his experiment? Frankenstein did defy the laws of nature after all? Frankenstein also put another in charge of the creation’a care, instead of overeseeing it himself. And what about the third party? Shouldn’t they have alerted the authorities? Stopped Frankenstein from carrying out such an atrocity? Who is the real monster?
Pop culture would have us believe it’s “the creation”, the film appears to point to “Frankenstein”, maybe even the lab assistant since he was the one that terrorized the “creation”… Do you know who I think is the monster?
— No one.
No one spoke up to stop Frankenstein. No one supervised the lab assistant. No one treated the “creation”, like it had life. The film doesn’t even give it a name. No one tried to understand “the creation”. No one questioned, “the creation’s” behavior, like why did it keep Frankenstein alive and brought him back to the tower? Why did he run in fear instead of strangling the fiancée? If he was a monster wouldn’t he have killed them? No one took the time to teach the creature social norms, or words. Absence is the real monster to me. Absence of compassion, kindness, respect, education, love, control, courage, understanding, research, communication, are all the real monsters in Frankenstein. Whatever environment “the creation” was exposed to is exactly what its behavior mirrored, violence and fear. It did not know any better; no one ever taught him.
Was it their fault? Perhaps, or perhaps not no one had ever experimented like that before, once again there was an absence of records.
So why go on a rant? Because we need to stop. We need to stop being absent, and be present. Speak where words are needed. Step into roles that others fear. Respond with compassion and forgiveness, instead of pride and hurt. Allow wisdom in when making decisions. Be confident. Be brave. Be watchful. Be respectful. Be honest. Be tactful. Be humble. Be willing to serve. There are many social injustices and so many disagreements in life but there is a correct approach to address them, and a “mob with torches” is not the best approach.
(Prayer is, the Biblical kind: Matthew 6: 5-15).
So if you’re reading this dear one, I ask you to ponder, ” where are you being absent? And how can I change it?”.
Stop “the monster”, and be present.