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Frankenstein (Enriched Classics)
by Mary Shelley

Published: 2004-04-27
Mass Market Paperback : 352 pages
3 members reading this now
31 clubs reading this now
7 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 2 of 2 members
ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED

BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP

A timeless, terrifying tale of one man's obsession to create life -- and the monster that became his legacy.

EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:

• A concise introduction that gives readers important background information

• A ...

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Introduction

ENDURING LITERATURE ILLUMINATED

BY PRACTICAL SCHOLARSHIP

A timeless, terrifying tale of one man's obsession to create life -- and the monster that became his legacy.

EACH ENRICHED CLASSIC EDITION INCLUDES:

• A concise introduction that gives readers important background information

• A chronology of the author's life and work

• A timeline of significant events that provides the book's historical context

• An outline of key themes and plot points to help readers form their own interpretations

• Detailed explanatory notes

• Critical analysis, including contemporary and modern perspectives on the work

• Discussion questions to promote lively classroom and book group interaction

• A list of recommended related books and films to broaden the reader's experience

Enriched Classics offer readers affordable editions of great works of literature enhanced by helpful notes and insightful commentary. The scholarship provided in Enriched Classics enables readers to appreciate, understand, and enjoy the world's finest books to their full potential.

SERIES EDITED BY CYNTHIA BRANTLEY JOHNSON

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

I am by birth a Genevese; and my family is one of the most distinguished of that republic. My ancestors had been for many years counsellors and syndics; and my father had filled several public situations with honour and reputation. He was respected by all who knew him for his integrity and indefatigable attention to public business. He passed his younger days perpetually occupied by the affairs of his country; a variety of circumstances had prevented his marrying early, nor was it until the decline of life that he became a husband and the father of a family.

As the circumstances of his marriage illustrate his character, I cannot refrain from relating them. One of his most intimate friends was a merchant, who, from a flourishing state, fell, through numerous mischances, into poverty. This man, whose name was Beaufort, was of a proud and unbending disposition, and could not bear to live in poverty and oblivion in the same country where he had formerly been distinguished for his rank and magnificence. Having paid his debts, therefore, in the most honourable manner, he retreated with his daughter to the town of Lucerne, where he lived unknown and in wretchedness. My father loved Beaufort with the truest friendship, and was deeply grieved by his retreat in these unfortunate circumstances. He bitterly deplored the false pride which led his friend to a conduct so little worthy of the affection that united them. He lost no time in endeavouring to seek him out, with the hope of persuading him to begin the world again through his credit and assistance.

Beaufort had taken effectual measures to conceal himself; and it was ten months before my father discovered his abode. Overjoyed at this discovery, he hastened to the house, which was situated in a mean street, near the Reuss. But when he entered, misery and despair alone welcomed him. Beaufort had saved but a very small sum of money from the wreck of his fortunes; but it was sufficient to provide him with sustenance for some months, and in the meantime he hoped to procure some respectable employment in a merchant's house. The interval was, consequently, spent in inaction; his grief only became more deep and rankling when he had leisure for reflection; and at length it took so fast hold of his mind that at the end of three months he lay on a bed of sickness, incapable of any exertion.

His daughter attended him with the greatest tenderness; but she saw with despair that their little fund was rapidly decreasing, and that there was no other prospect of support. But Caroline Beaufort possessed a mind of an uncommon mould; and her courage rose to support her in her adversity. She procured plain work; she plaited straw; and by various means contrived to earn a pittance scarcely sufficient to support life.

Several months passed in this manner. Her father grew worse; her time was more entirely occupied in attending him; her means of subsistence decreased; and in the tenth month her father died in her arms, leaving her an orphan and a beggar. This last blow overcame her; and she knelt by Beaufort's coffin, weeping bitterly, when my father entered the chamber. He came like a protecting spirit to the poor girl, who committed herself to his care; and after the interment of his friend, he conducted her to Geneva, and placed her under the protection of a relation. Two years after this event Caroline became his wife.

There was a considerable difference between the ages of my parents, but this circumstance seemed to unite them only closer in bonds of devoted affection. There was a sense of justice in my father's upright mind, which rendered it necessary that he should approve highly to love strongly. Perhaps during former years he had suffered from the late discovered unworthiness of one beloved, and so was disposed to set a greater value on tried worth. There was a show of gratitude and worship in his attachment to my mother, differing wholly from the doating fondness of age, for it was inspired by reverence for her virtues, and a desire to be the means of, in some degree, recompensing her for the sorrows she had endured, but which gave inexpressible grace to his behaviour to her. Everything was made to yield to her wishes and her convenience. He strove to shelter her, as a fair exotic is sheltered by the gardener, from every rougher wind, and to surround her with all that could tend to excite pleasurable emotion in her soft and benevolent mind. Her health, and even the tranquillity of her hitherto constant spirit, had been shaken by what she had gone through. During the two years that had elapsed previous to their marriage my father had gradually relinquished all his public functions; and immediately after their union they sought the pleasant climate of italy, and the change of scene and interest attendant on a tour through that land of wonders, as a restorative for her weakened frame.

From Italy they visted Germany and France. I, their eldest child, was born in Naples, and as an infant accompanied them in their rambles. I remained for several years their only child. Much as they were attached to each other, they seemed to draw inexhaustible stores of affection from a very mine of love to bestow them upon me. My mother's tender caresses, and my father's smile of benevolent pleasure while regarding me, are my first recollections. I was their plaything and their idol, and something better--their child, the innocent and helpless creature bestowed on them by Heaven, whom to bring up to good, and whose future lot it was in their hands to direct to happiness or misery, according as they fulfilled their duties towards me. With this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life, added to the active spirit of tenderness that animated both, it may be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity, and of self control, I was so guided by a silken cord that all seemed but one train of enjoyment to me.

For a long time I was their only care. My mother had much desired to have a daughter, but I continued their single offspring. When I was about five years old, while making an excursion beyond the frontiers of Italy, they passed a week on the shores of the Lake of Como. Their benevolent disposition often made them enter the cottages of the poor. This, to my mother, was more than a duty; it was a necessity, a passion--remembering what she had suffered, and how she had been relieved--for her to act in her turn the guardian angel to the afflicted. During one of their walks a poor cot in the foldings of a vale attracted their notice as being singularly disconsolate, while the number of half-clothed children gathered about it spoke of penury in its worst shape. One day, when my father had gone by himself to Milan, my mother, accompanied by me, visited this abode. She found a peasant and his wife, hard working, bent down by care and labour, distributing a scanty meal to five hungry babes. Among these there was one which attracted my mother far above all the rest. She appeared of a different stock. The four others were dark eyed, hardy little vagrants; this child was thin, and very fair. Her hair was the brightest living gold, and, despite the poverty of her clothing, seemed to set a crown of distinction on her head. Her brow was clear and ample, her blue eyes cloudless, and her lips and the moulding of her face so expressive of sensibility and sweetness, that none could behold her without looking on her as of a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features.

The peasant woman, perceiving that my mother fixed eyes of wonder and admiration on this lovely girl, eagerly communicated her history. She was not her child, but the daughter of a Milanese nobleman. Her mother was a German, and had died on giving her birth. The infant had been placed with these good people to nurse: they were better off then. They had not been long married, and their eldest child was but just born. The father of their charge was one of those Italians nursed in the memory of the antique glory of Italy--one among the _schiavi ognor frementi_, who exerted himself to obtain the liberty of his country. He became the victim of its weakness. Whether he had died, or still lingered in the dungeons of Austria, was not known. His property was confiscated, his child became an orphan and a beggar. She continued with her foster parents, and bloomed in their rude abode, fairer than a garden rose among dark-leaved brambles.

When my father returned from Milan, he found playing with me in the hall of our villa a child fairer than pictured cherub--a creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks, and whose form and motions were lighter than the chamois of the hills. The apparition was soon explained. With his permission my mother prevailed on her rustic guardians to yield their charge to her. They were fond of the sweet orphan. Her presence had seemed a blessing to them; but it would be unfair to her to keep her in poverty and want, when Providence afforded her such powerful protection. They consulted their village priest, and the result was that Elizabeth Lavenza became the inmate of my parents' house--my more than sister the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and my pleasures.

Every one loved Elizabeth. The passionate and almost reverential attachment with which all regarded her became, while I shared it, my pride and my delight. On the evening previous to her being brought to my home, my mother had said playfully--"I have a pretty present for my Victor--to-morrow he shall have it." And when, on the morrow, she presented Elizabeth to me as her promised gift, I, with childish seriousness, interpreted her words literally, and looked upon Elizabeth as mine--mine to protect, love, and cherish. All praises bestowed on her, I received as made to a possession of my own. We called each other familiarly by the name of cousin. No word, no expression could body forth the kind of relation in which she stood to me--my more than sister, since till death she was to be mine only. view abbreviated excerpt only...

Discussion Questions

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS


1. Is Robert Walton's ambition similar to Frankenstein's, as Frankenstein believes?

2. Why is the fifteen-year-old Frankenstein so impressed with the oak tree destroyed by lightning in a thunderstorm?

3.Why does Frankenstein become obsessed with creating life?

4.Why is Frankenstein filled with disgust, calling the monster "my enemy," as soon as he has created him? (p. 62)

5.What does the monster think his creator owes him?

6. Why does Frankenstein agree to create a bride for the monster, then procrastinate and finally break his promise?

7. Why can't Frankenstein tell anyone—even his father or Elizabeth—why he blames himself for the deaths of William, Justine, and Henry Clerval?

8. Why doesn't Frankenstein realize that the monster's pledge "I shall be with you on your wedding-night" threatens Elizabeth as well as himself? (p. 173)

9. Why does Frankenstein find new purpose in life when he decides to seek revenge on the monster "until he or I shall perish in mortal conflict"? (p. 206)

10. Why are Frankenstein and his monster both ultimately miserable, bereft of human companionship, and obsessed with revenge? Are they in the same situation at the end of the novel?

11. Why doesn't Walton kill the monster when he has the chance?


For Further Reflection
Was it wrong for Frankenstein to inquire into the origins of life?

What makes the creature a monster rather than a human being?

Is the monster, who can be persuasive, always telling the truth?

Suggested by Members

Google favorite quotes from Frankenstein- there are many- and use them for conversation starters.
by PEP2312 (see profile) 10/24/13

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Easy to Combine with Halloween for a Fun Evening
by PEP2312 (see profile) 10/24/13
We selected this book for our October read. Served blood red Pomegrante Mimosas, along with wines featuring some great scary labels in black stemware. Glowsticks for stirrers added to the fun. Monster hand Bear Claws and Frankenstein Cake Pops made for a fun evening.

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
 
 
by Mjuricic (see profile) 05/31/17

 
  "Mary Shelley's Frankenstein"by gigi716 (see profile) 07/25/14

We all agreed this book was a wonderful read. The language of the time took just a little while to acclimate to, and once done, the story was haunting and emotional. Would recommend that readers do a... (read more)

 
  "Mary Shelley Creates Science Fiction Genre"by PEP2312 (see profile) 10/24/13

Frankenstein is slow to start, but then grabs your imagination. Nature vs. Nurture? The Ethics of Scientific Study? are great book discussion topics explored by Shelley's "Frankenstein". So much more than... (read more)

 
  "Consider the science of 1818 when this was written!"by rowchick (see profile) 10/30/12

 
  "Everyone liked the book--unusual for us"by mary marshall (see profile) 10/31/08

 
  "Simply, put....a classic"by kristorr (see profile) 10/18/07

One of the biggest reasons why this story is so great for a book club is because there are so many different topics you can discuss. This is the third time I've read this story, and amazingly enough,... (read more)

 
  "Read this book and discuss current and historical society contexts!"by mmcbride (see profile) 09/23/07

This book is perfect for book clubs and for others! One great thing about this book is that it asks, very pointedly, "Just because mankind can do something technologically, biomedically, or... (read more)

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