Critical Essay on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Exploring Human Nature's Darkest Fears

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  10
Wordcount:  2584 Words
Date:  2023-01-12


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster has haunted many people for a long time than any other in the history of modern literature. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is known as one of the pioneering artists in the contemporary science fictions which has a scary story exploring the mysterious fears in the human nature. Victor Frankenstein is viewed as the Monster in Shelley's Frankenstein, and throughout the novel, we assume that man is a demon who is hideous and disfigured on outside. Victor Frankenstein is viewed as caring and handsome victim, even if monsters are not heard or seen sometimes. This paper explores the changes in the story, character, and theme. It also compares and contrasts the readings with contemporary fiction work. The characters are viewed through the hero's journey lenses. Finally, the essay discusses how contemporary issues are affected by history, how it diverges, how culture changes the story and explains why this work has been adopted in modern life.

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The Evolution of Frankenstein: From Shelley's Novel to Contemporary Culture

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster has haunted many people for a long time than any other monster in the history of contemporary literature. The novel was published in 1818, about 200 years ago, and it has been able to stand in today's test. In the modern world, Frankenstein has been transformed in a way that cannot be recognized by Shelley. The subject of Shelley's work has been able to transcend culture globally (Sanchez, 2018). When we base her Greek mythology monster, we find that she was able to come up with a figure which not only transcended literature but also enabled the launching of a new genre. We are supposed first to address the past to understand how this was integrated into modern culture. Shelley's eight-foot monster became the ultimate emblem that separated what can be done by the scientist and what should be done.

Reimagining Victor Frankenstein: Changes in Character and Plot

We find that there were few monsters which transcended the generations such as in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein monster. However, the original tale of the playing God eventually went wrong, and it morphed into different forms throughout these years. The monster is transformed from a misshapen heap in the reclaimed parts of the body which are loved by the creator (Sanchez, 2018). The real story and images that are remembered by the people are based on the 1931 film which was Frankenstein adaptation. The film shows that the monster had been portrayed differently compared to books and we have noted that it has large stitches on the forehead, green skin, mindless stare, electrodes on the neck, and several key differences that are in the plot. The above changes were able to set in motion an endless tweaking series in the monster in every ten years just like telephone's game. However, we find that Frankenstein physical changes are excusable given the effects of time, limited makeup, although tweaking in the plot entirely change the story.

When we look at the Mary Shelley's version, we find that there are no giant castles, an angry mob of villagers, wise-cracking assistant known as Igor, or even flaming windmill. Mary Shelley's story was focusing on a young boy called Victor Frankenstein who is said to have created a monster and also abandoned it out of fear. Due to abandonment by Victor Frankenstein, the monster started to seek revenge by harming Victor's friends and loved ones. Most of this story has been revolving on Victor continuing with life while on the other side, the monster was roaming around in the countryside in which it was acquiring knowledge of the surrounding and himself. However, the classic movie plot was focusing on middle-aged Victor Frankenstein who was a mad scientist that needed to create a new monster. We see Victor playing a significant role in the development of the monster up to the eventual downfall to the angry villagers. The traditional storyline departure has come up with many different versions and interpretations on Frankenstein monster. The pop culture Frankenstein narrative took a turn while following original motion pictures in the parodies such as the Bride of Frankenstein and the curse of Frankenstein.

Victor Frankenstein is strictly used for comic relief and also for his sexuality. Frankenstein was increasingly involved in situations which were far removed from Shelley's original vision in which people saw Victor becoming a lesser horror icon that is more of the figure in the counterculture (Holland, 2018). In the '80s and '90s, this narrative started to return into something closer to the work of Shelley. The Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (1994), films Frankenstein unbound, and Broadway play in Shelley's Creature were all viewed to have played a recommendable job in blending the old monster concepts with a more modernized understanding which makes the monster to appear more of a human. The creative move is unique because these projects can feature a brilliant monster which was stripped far away from Shelley's monster which was original in the motion picture. Through adding intelligence back to his character, the monster can become scarier to a modern audience who are not frightened easily by brute strength as well as reanimation.

The nuances of her novel were highly shed on the formations of this myth. In this novel, we find that Victor Frankenstein who was a sophisticated genius was tortured and finally he became a mad scientist. Victor Frankenstein's creature went from a poetry-reading autodidact, French-speaking to groaning killer. Through paintings, prints, photocopy, and ephemera hence Frayling traces of the creature's evolution. In the fate of Frankenstein, or presumption play, we find that in the stage of a new product, the monster is seen as unwieldy though it is not muscle-bound giant, unattractive in a Toga. However, we see the political cartoonists being simplified in which the caricature monster is perceived in the common threats, and by the time when Boris Karloff appeared on the screen in 1931, this monster was already transformed into a bolt-necked brute and a heavy-lidded. This novel's stormy beginning is as famous as the lightning-charged birth of a monster. The Frayling fastidiously brings together the 1816 summer where the three Romantic luminaries together with their friends when at Lake Geneva to spend a holiday. During this time, there was a frequent storm, and relentlessly weather that made unmarried Mary Godwin, Lord Byron, and Shelley to have some entertainments while indoors. The English tourists suspected that these radical freethinkers involved themselves in every form of harmful behavior although the reality was seen to be more sedate.

Pygmalion: Bernard Shaw's Modern Retelling and Its Social Commentary

Bernard Shaw acquired his title from an ancient legend from Greek in the famous sculptor called Pygmalion who did not find any significance in women. Due to this, he decided to remain unmarried in his entire life (Gill, 2018). However, he was able to carve a statue out of ivory which was very beautiful and perfect such that he even fell in love with the creation that he had made himself. Indeed, this statue was accurate to the point that no living being could be it's equal. During festival seasons, he was playing to the goddess of Aphrodite, and love in which he thought the statue was to come to life. When Shaw reached home, he discovered that his wish was already fulfilled in which he went into the extent of marrying the statue by the name Galatea. In Shaw's Pygmalion, Henry Higgins was the most renowned person in phonetic in his time. Higgins was just like Pygmalion when it came to the view of women. Higgins saw that whenever he let a woman be his friend, the woman in return becomes exacting, jealous, suspicious and also nuisance. In the myth, we find that Pygmalion carved thing while using raw stones and eventually he gave life to it. Shaw's Eliza develops a soul on her own and also a fierce who is independent of her creator.

Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion is viewed as a modern -day way of retelling of this myth which transformed Galatea from a statue of silent into a vibrant independent woman who is capable of talking back to the teacher who is criticizing her speech. Shaw's Galatea, Eliza Doolittle was a spirited hard working girl who learned on how to speak just like a duchess and displays fierce independence and intelligence. However, Shaw had another reason as to why he wrote Pygmalion, and it brought him very near to its myth origin. The feelings that Shaw was having for the two characters were very complicated. We see that Henry Higgins is just like Shaw himself who is articulate, brilliant, and passionate about all of his works than anything else. Shaw is very close to his mother although he is not interested in romance. In the contemporary world, Shaw's play is best known for providing basis music My Fair Lady, and in Hollywood film where Audrey Hepburn was starring as Eliza.

During the introduction of Pygmalion, Bernard Shaw used two conflicting beliefs juxtaposition. He had the opinion that it is through the capacity of human beings in which they can refashion themselves completely. He also had a conviction that the people are transformed even before they undergo metamorphosis (Romero, 2018). Apart from a delightful comedy that was dealing with the motif of transformation, Pygmalion was able to present its viewers with a social criticism message that was pointing out on the folly and unsurpassable divisions in the society and also stresses the merit of social equity. The essential alteration is on character shift in gender of the subject in the transformation and the executor. Bernard Shaw is a male character who helps damsel distress, and he is socially agreeable to run her shop. We see LaBute going in the opposite direction where he has the instigator of change into a woman. This rise a question about our understanding of the gender role in our society. In the early 20th century, before female independence and a sense of feminism began, it was logical that women were helpless persons and this is would appear unfit in today's community. Due to the reversion of roles, a social paradigm was established that stated that men do not require to be helped and viewed that only women must be supported regarding their appearance.

Mary Shelley had used the themes fully which were popular and most known when she was writing Frankenstein. She was much concerned in using knowledge either for evil or a moral purpose, invasion of new technology in the modern society, treatment of uneducated or the poor, and finally she was concerned with the restorative power of nature (Sanchez, 2018). Shelley addresses a lot of concerns in that novel even though some concerns were not fully answered or addressed. She has not responded to a question such as, how can a man learn without jeopardizing others or himself. Victor Frankenstein was able to learn everything he was capable in the field of science in both before, after, and during his work. Since revolutions in the industries spread to all parts of Britain and European society when Shelley was writing her work, she asked by how far was the current waves of advances were supposed to push individuals in terms of spiritual and personal growth. Shelley conveyed the impression assuming that technological advancement made to date has robbed the souls of growth in the case where a human being may depend more on the technology.

The British audiences knew the story of Pygmalion during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. This story has been used in Morris's poem known as The Earth Paradise and Pygmalion comedy and Galatea. There are also contemporary melodramas that show the transformation in the working class girls to ladies such as Dion Boucicault's, or even in the lives of an actress. Covent Garden Flower lady was trained to be an actress by the actor called Grimaldi. The melodramatic and musical versions of the story were highly popular and gained widespread recognition. However, Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion brought an unconventional spin to this story and examined social issues surrounding class and gender inequality.

Shaw explores the transformative power of education and language in Pygmalion. Eliza Doolittle, a working-class flower girl, undergoes an astounding transformation under Henry Higgins' tutelage: through rigorous training and refinement of her speech she learns to speak like a duchess and gains both confidence and independence - disproves society's beliefs that class determines one's worth or potential; Shaw emphasizes education's vital role and combats rigid social hierarchies of his time.

Transformation and Gender Roles in Pygmalion and Frankenstein

Shaw's play also explores gender roles and expectations within society, specifically Eliza's transformation from a submissive girl into a strong woman. Shaw challenges the notion that women are inferior to men and should rely on them. Through Eliza, he presents a feminist viewpoint advocating for equal gender rights.

Pygmalion and Frankenstein both explore transformation. Victor Frankenstein's creation, Victor Frankenstein himself, goes through an extreme transformation that sees it transform from an innocent being into an angry being; its physical appearance adds insult to injury as society judges superficial qualities; similarly, Eliza's transformation in Pygmalion challenges society's tendency to judge according to class or accent.

Furthermore, both Frankenstein and Pygmalion explore the consequences of playing God. Victor Frankenstein's intense desire for knowledge leads him down an irrevocably tragic path as his creation takes control over him and eventually consumes him. Henry Higgins in Pygmalion plays out this same theme when he takes up Henry Shaw's challenge by casting Eliza after Henry Higgins's desires and then molding her as per his wishes; raising questions regarding ethics and responsibility surrounding scientific and social experimentation.

Contemporary Relevance: Comparing the Themes in Modern Fiction

Comparing these works with contemporary fiction shows their lasting legacy. Both Frankenstein and Pygmalion have been adapted into numerous plays, films, and forms of media to demonstrate their enduring relevance, stimulating discussions on themes like scientific boundaries, technology's effects on society, and individual identity issues.


Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion have had an enormous influence on modern culture, exploring themes of transformation, inequality, and ambition in both stories. Both works have undergone adaptations and reinterpretations over time to keep their timeless appeal fresh for modern audiences and demonstrate literature's ability to inspire change through its stories.

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Critical Essay on Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: Exploring Human Nature's Darkest Fears. (2023, Jan 12). Retrieved from

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