My Love for the Creature, a.k.a. Frankie

From the moment that I could feel empathy for another being and understand the gift of compassion, I have loved Frankenstein’s Creature.

“The Creature is, in effect, experiencing the first hours of his life after birth, and like a baby is seeking its parent for solace and nurture.” ~   Maurice Hindle

Anyone who has read the novel by Mary Shelley knows that the Creature was not a monster. That, like a child, he only wanted to be loved and treated kindly by his creator.

“Because Frankenstein created the person of his dreams in his own (imperfect) image, the Creature has been rejected both from his creator’s society and subsequently from the society of others; therefore, his destiny is bound to be ‘unnatural.’”  ~ Maurice Hindle

Hollywood and Boris Karloff were the first exposure to the story of Frankenstein that most of us had. The 1931 film version of “FRANKENSTEIN” dwelled on the horrific appearance of the Creature.  It did little to educate the audience on the horrors of men who attempt to act as God. How we disturb or destroy nature at our own peril, so often abandoning our responsibilities for our creation and forcing it to fend for itself or die – Mary Shelley’s ultimate message.

 

In his book, KILLING MONSTERS: Why children NEED fantasy, super heroes, and make-believe violence, Gerard Jones explains how watching horror films can be cathartic for children – especially for children who experience abuse, abandonment, or neglect from a parent. His book is one I highly recommend for parents to read if they would like to intrinsically know the positive side of children being exposed to violence through media. I, for one, was one of those children. There is no better release of emotion than to vicariously act out against an abuser through the actions of another on screen.  If you can release all of those nasty feelings through a fictional character, you have less, if any, need to act upon those negative feelings in real life.

If becoming frustrated and agitated and just plain wonky because you are different, in whatever way, and being upset that you are not accepted for who and what you are, makes you a miserable creature, than we are all, by that definition – a monster. Life, to many, is its own horror story. And it’s real.

The Creature is not the speechless, slow-witted, sloth-like character portrayed in the 1931 classic film. In Shelley’s novel, he is, in fact, agile and intelligent.  He is a sponge, like most children are, and eager to absorb the world around him.

“As a being who feels defined by pains and pleasures over which he has little or no control, he now greatly desires to become acquainted with this ‘godlike science’ of speech for reasons which would today come under the heading of ‘empowerment.’ The power of making speech seems to be a prerequisite for becoming part of society.”  ~ Maurice Hindle

The Creature learns to speak by observing and listening.

Who doesn’t bask in their toddler babbling? Who doesn’t comprehend that with all their grunts and gurgles their babies are trying to communicate? To gain entrance into the bigger world around them? What parent doesn’t try to communicate back? Why are we so much less tolerant of those not like us? Those whose physical features, language, or behavior does not mirror ours?

“Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly what a wretched outcast I was.”

Often the back story is left out in most horror movies. The audience knows little about the monster – of what caused him, or her, to become that which we fear.

Perhaps the most defining moment in the novel, is when the Creature questions his existence. How often have we dealt with the uglies in our lives and wonder, “Why?” 

“Remember, that I am thy creature: I ought to be thy Adam; but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from joy for no misdeed. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend.” ~ The Creature, FRANKENSTEIN

The Creature knew of God. He is acutely aware that there is a Creator who made His creatures in His image and they.were.perfect.  Sadly, he recognizes that he was not made by the hands of that Creator, but by man. A man who thought himself a god. A man who, unlike most parents who do not wish to outlive their children, desired the total demise of his own offspring: “But I was doomed to live,” laments the Creature.

Of all the FRANKENSTEIN movies made, the 1994 film starring Robert DeNiro as the Creature follows Shelley’s novel in the purest way. DeNiro embraces the truest form of the Creature, in all his sadness and bewilderment.

A close second would be the movie currently playing, “HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA,” featuring the voices of Kevin James as Frankenstein and Fran Drescher as Eunice, his wife.  Though light-hearted, the film depicts the Creature as he was meant to be, gentle and kind.

It’s all about being different. It’s all about being accepted for who we are. It’s all about knowing that even if you weren’t born into this world in the natural way, or your parents were less than, that God knew you before you existed  – and loves you just.as.you.are.

How can I, we, not love the Creature? Can’t we all relate at some point in our lives to the Creature’s need to be a part of community? To be understood? To be loved?

The Creature knew of God, the Creator. I’d like to think that the story continued well beyond THE END of Mary Shelley’s novel. Where the Creature finally found rest, was still, and was able to know God.  

And that in God’s eyes, he was good.

7 comments

  1. I am speechless. This is so lovely, you have written this beautifully. I read the book a long time ago and it still sits proudly in my bookcase. And yes, he only wanted love and affection.
    And in the movies he is shown as a monster (I have not seen the Robert de Niro one nor the Hotel Trasylvania) which is great for the horror effect but a sad justice to the book.
    Thank you for reminding us how it originally was meant and how we in these days still judge people wrongly because of the way they look or speak or move.
    A very moving post.

    greetings from Amsterdam
    Renée

    http://howlingdogartstudio.blogspot.com

  2. Thank you, Renee. Deciding what to write about with my blog is not easy. There are SO many things I want to share, but somehow this seemed fitting considering the time of year. Of course, those of us who have read the book know that the Creature’s name is not Frankenstein. The way we give the Creature a name that makes it easy for us to refer to, reminds me of how, when emigrants came to America and were given names, instead of being able to keep their given names. Ah, but I could go on….

  3. We are such a sophisticated society today, with a wealth of knowledge, experience, and technology behind us. Why is it that being accepted for who we are, whether it is by others or by ourselves, still seems to be so incredibly hard? Frankenstein is not someone I have given much more than a cursory thought to as a Halloween figure and movie creature. Thank you Robin for providing a new perspective and a reminder that we must continually strive for inclusion.

  4. Excellent piece, Robin! I had no idea about the depth of this story and it’s creature, although I, too, always felt empathy toward him. I haven’t read the book, nor have I seen DeNiro’s performance, but no feel very inclined to do so. Thanks for sharing this!

    If you like foreign flicks at all, do be sure to check out “The Spirit of the Beehive.” A spirituality and arts group, of which I’m a board member, showed it recently. Here’s a brief synopsis (note the inclusion of the classic Frankenstein film within this film):

    Summary: Using the loss of the Spanish Civil War against Franco as its allegorical backdrop, Victor Erice’s haunting, lyrical directorial debut portrays the numinous power of cinema to catalyze a young girl’s coming-of-age.

    In a tiny rural Castillian village in 1940, everyone gathers for a screening of James Whale’s Frankenstein (1931). A girl and her sister watch, entranced. Such begins the wonderous/perilous quest, as the younger sister—embodying the archetypal Holy Fool—is compelled and transformed by unwavering questions about death and the realm of the spirits.

    Cinematography, sound, and production design brilliantly set a tone of spare, poetic depth. Decaying buildings and vast abandoned fields mirror the melancholy soul loss of the post-war world. In bold contrast, we follow the unshakeable, fearless innocence of a six year old girl in search of a felt connection to the mysteries beyond.

  5. Thank you so much for writing this! I am a kid (inside) that is afraid of scary things… so THIS fine piece will actually help to heal me up! Who needs thinky-doctors with a blog as good as this!!! : ) I’m cured… (still won’t watch the really scary stuff though… maybe just Scooby Doo, or Arthur Halloween specials now…) ha!

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