Before Boris Karlov’s stumbling antics or cartoonish green skin, Frankenstein offered us something really horrible. The silver screen diluted, and perhaps demeaned, this classic Gothic novel. Readers actually get to meet the person of Victor Frankenstein, a curious and nervous youth driven to experimentation by grief. But more compellingly, we get to meet the Creature, a person brilliantly aware and articulate. The Creature not merely lives; he exceeds Frankenstein in every way and in every talent. This Creature is naturally benevolent, truly the best of humanity when he rescues the girl that Karlov is depicted ignorantly drowning. Only his hideous appearance leads others to mistreat him until he turns to vengeful rage, a warning fitting for our own times. Frankenstein descends into a doomed attempt to kill his indomitable creation, while the Creature reduces himself to slaughtering Frankenstein’s loved ones. Perennially relevant, Frankenstein remains with us as we find ourselves trapped amid targeted algorithms and developing artificial intelligence that need not do good for us. We too can shiver with helplessness seeing our creations control our destinies. Both Frankenstein and his Creature achieve terrible power and both end regretting their short-sighted abuses of the same. The horror Frankenstein offers is repeated in the tragedies of history, the atrocities humans can commit when our power exceeds our wisdom. Like the Creature, we too can reflexively cringe when looking in Shelley’s mirror.
– Edward Malnar, Northfield Public Library