Frankenstein

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A promotional photo of Boris Karloff as Frankenstein's monster

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a 1818 early science fiction novel chronicling a science student's attempt to recreate life through experimental means and it's unforeseen consequences.

Plot

Victor Frankenstein is a promising chemistry student who during his studies develops aecret technique to impart life to non-living matter. Because of the difficulty in replicating the minute parts of the human body, Victor makes "the Wretch" large, about eight feet tall. He also sews together mismatched body parts from multiple cadavers. Repulsed by his work, Victor flees and dismisses the wretch. Saddened by the rejection, the Wretch disappears.

Victor falls ill from the experience and whilst he is nursed back to health he returns home to find his brother has been murdered. Seeing the wretch at the crime scene, he assumes he is responsible, however the brother's nanny is held responsible as no one would believe Victor's story.

The wretch later explains how it burned a family's house who took it in after they grew frightened of him and murdered Victor's brother in a fit of rage. It demands Victor creator a female version companion for it after which it was vanish into the South American wilderness. Plagued with the idea this might lead to the breeding of a race that could torment mankind, he cannot complete the bride.

As revenge, the wretch murders Victor's wife-to-be on the night before their wedding. Victor pursues his creation to the north pole where eventually the creation is found dead. However this does not bring Victor peace, leading him to kill himself.

Variants

The story and character have been imagined and reimagined in a number of different medium. Typical additions from Shelly's plot involve playing-up the mad scientist trope, the animation of the monster via a bolt of lightening or the monster receiving an abnormal or criminal brain and of course the monster inevitably turning on it's creator.

Transhumanist themes

As one of the earliest works of science fiction, it explored surgical horror, the dehumanisation of such a creation, as well the bioethics associated with such emergent technologies.

The story prophesizes the serious consequences of trespassing against the human body and spirit and the dire consequences for those who would transgress these rules.

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