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Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley 
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 Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley



Tue Jun 17, 2014 4:47 pm
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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus
Mary Shelley

Prometheus:

Quote:
PROMETHEUS was the Titan god of forethought and crafty counsel who was entrusted with the task of moulding mankind out of clay. His attempts to better the lives of his creation brought him into direct conflict with Zeus. Firstly he tricked the gods out of the best portion of the sacrificial feast, acquiring the meat for the feasting of man. Then, when Zeus withheld fire, he stole it from heaven and delivered it to mortal kind hidden inside a fennel-stalk. As punishment for these rebellious acts, Zeus ordered the creation of Pandora (the first woman) as a means to deliver misfortune into the house of man, or as a way to cheat mankind of the company of the good spirits. Prometheus meanwhile, was arrested and bound to a stake on Mount Kaukasos where an eagle was set to feed upon his ever-regenerating liver (or, some say, heart). Generations later the great hero Herakles came along and released the old Titan from his torture.


http://www.theoi.com/Titan/TitanPrometheus.html

"Frankenstein" refers to the doctor, the creator of new life made from human body parts. This new life is considered the Frankenstein monster. I bolded the first sentence of this brief description of Prometheus because it smacked me in the face and has given me a sense of what I can expect from Frankenstein. I always knew that this novel may have more to offer than just a mad scientist and a monster and I am looking forward to discovering and discussing. :)



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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I just ordered it for free for my Kindle and will now get in bed to read what I am hoping will not give me bad dreams. LOL



Tue Jun 17, 2014 10:47 pm
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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I have just started reading the book, a Kindle edition (free) from Amazon. It contains something of a Prologue, a series of letters from one Robert Walton, an English adventurer, currently in northern Russia, to his older(?) sister, Margaret Saville in England. I wonder if this should be addressed as a separate topic, or just kept with the first chapters. It seems to set the scene; perhaps I will understand more when I have read further.


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Wed Jun 18, 2014 11:07 am
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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I am now through Chapter 3, and withdraw my suggestion that the four "Letters" be treated as a separate topic. They are merely a stage setting for the story. As for the first three chapters, the writing takes some getting used to. The style of writing at the turn of the 18th to 19th century is so different from modern writing, that it boggles the mind. The descriptions of the characters, and the location are well done. Hard to believe Mary Shell was still a teenager when she wrote it.


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Thu Jun 19, 2014 10:17 pm
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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?"



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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Cattleman wrote:
I am now through Chapter 3, and withdraw my suggestion that the four "Letters" be treated as a separate topic. They are merely a stage setting for the story


I still think it would be a good idea to create a thread for the letters. The letters not only set the stage it introduces Walton as the narrator. I don't think Shelley would have gone into so much detail concerning Walton if he were not linked to the story in some way, more than just a narrator.

Suzanne wrote:
"Frankenstein" refers to the doctor, the creator of new life made from human body parts. This new life is considered the Frankenstein monster.


I bolded the word monster because I don't like it. I don't like creature either. Cattleman said in another post about "getting Frankenstein out of our way". I think this is good advice. I am throwing a blanket over all images of the Frankenstein "monster" that are in my mind and hopefully create a new vision, one that Shelley provides. Old Frank may peek out once in a while though. :wink:



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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This looks like a more complete version of the Prometheus myth. It will be interesting to see how much of it Shelley incorporates.

http://www.prometheas.org/mythology.html

(Disclaimer: I haven't received the book yet.)



Fri Jun 20, 2014 1:22 pm
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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Looking for parallels with the myth of Prometheus, but not sure how much I'm finding. In Chapter 2:
Quote:
My father looked carelessly at the title page of my book and said, "Ah! Cornelius Agrippa! My dear Victor, do not waste your time upon this; it is sad trash."

If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded and that a modern system of science had been introduced which possessed much greater powers than the ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimerical, while those of the former were real and practical, under such circumstances I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside and have contented my imagination, warmed as it was, by returning with greater ardour to my former studies.

...The untaught peasant beheld the elements around him and was acquainted with their practical uses. The most learned philosopher knew little more. He had partially unveiled the face of Nature, but her immortal lineaments were still a wonder and a mystery. He might dissect, anatomize, and give names; but, not to speak of a final cause, causes in their secondary and tertiary grades were utterly unknown to him. I had gazed upon the fortifications and impediments that seemed to keep human beings from entering the citadel of nature, and rashly and ignorantly I had repined.

But here were books, and here were men who had penetrated deeper and knew more. I took their word for all that they averred, and I became their disciple.

...Under the guidance of my new preceptors I entered with the greatest diligence into the search of the philosopher's stone and the elixir of life; but the latter soon obtained my undivided attention.

As a Titan, Prometheus had much wider knowledge than Man, his creation. Victor Frankenstein admits he unwisely rejected his father's advice (Zeus?). He seeks knowledge Man doesn't have. Victor then undergoes a profound change after witnessing fire and electricity.
Quote:
As I stood at the door, on a sudden I beheld a stream of fire issue from an old and beautiful oak which stood about twenty yards from our house; and so soon as the dazzling light vanished, the oak had disappeared, and nothing remained but a blasted stump. When we visited it the next morning, we found the tree shattered in a singular manner. It was not splintered by the shock, but entirely reduced to thin ribbons of wood. I never beheld anything so utterly destroyed.

Before this I was not unacquainted with the more obvious laws of electricity. On this occasion a man of great research in natural philosophy was with us, and excited by this catastrophe, he entered on the explanation of a theory which he had formed on the subject of electricity and galvanism, which was at once new and astonishing to me. All that he said threw greatly into the shade Cornelius Agrippa, Albertus Magnus, and Paracelsus, the lords of my imagination; but by some fatality the overthrow of these men disinclined me to pursue my accustomed studies. It seemed to me as if nothing would or could ever be known. All that had so long engaged my attention suddenly grew despicable.

I at first thought controlling electricity was a parallel with Prometheus bringing fire to man, but no this was already well understood. (Although electricity will probably return later?) Victor gives up on alchemy - such knowledge remains unavailable to man - and moves towards the hard sciences. But not entirely...
Quote:
When I look back, it seems to me as if this almost miraculous change of inclination and will was the immediate suggestion of the guardian angel of my life--the last effort made by the spirit of preservation to avert the storm that was even then hanging in the stars and ready to envelop me. Her victory was announced by an unusual tranquillity and gladness of soul which followed the relinquishing of my ancient and latterly tormenting studies. It was thus that I was to be taught to associate evil with their prosecution, happiness with their disregard.

It was a strong effort of the spirit of good, but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.

Wow. Well, hopefully someone else can tease out these parallels better than this effort... :hmm:



Mon Jun 23, 2014 12:38 pm
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 Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
ant wrote:
"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?"

I had to Google this to find it's from the title page to Frankenstein. It does not appear in the Gutenberg text I downloaded. :angry: The quote is from John Milton’s Paradise Lost, so obviously Mary Shelley was reading that, to answer a different thread. Here's a brief discussion:
http://skifreak01.blogspot.com/2009/08/ ... -clay.html

Props to Ant for quoting it, or I wouldn't have seen this. :up: But I'm not gonna slog through Milton's epic to find parallels with Frankenstein, perhaps someone much more scholarly... :chatsmilies_com_92:



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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
Quote:
Looking for parallels with the myth of Prometheus


i suppose the macro parallel is that as prometheus makes man and a whole lot of trouble ensues

so now man (mental man) makes man and the result is a "monster"

but the titans to me are aspects of the living human with the real self (the deeper essential self) being the 13th in the center.

hard to get across but i think of it as like the eye of a hurricane, the titans swirl around with great tempestuous might threatening to tear you in pieces like the wild whirling wind that circles as a hurricane, a tempest, but the still point at the center is unmoved, the true self. Out in the eye of the storm the true self is unmoved.

so in the still point of the center all is bliss but the further out that you venture the more you are susceptible to the forces that gain strength the further out you go.

or think of a clock face, 12 circling the center where the hands emerge from, time happens at the outer circle of the clock but at the center there is no time.

like i said hard to put into words, as Campbell says, like trying to explain skiing to someone who has never gone skiing, but i suppose whatever is valid in it is valid for all, we've most of us done some "skiing" one way or another, so whether you related to it in this way or that way it would be the common experience beyond the common experience.

12 constellations swirling around the sun (old view)
12 tribes around the tabernacle
12 divisions around 13th in the center of a clock face
12 cards in each of the suits in a deck of cards and then a joker (the 13th) (4x13=52 cards in a playing deck)

12 zodiac
12 titans

12 aspects of the human existence

but a mysterious 13th (lucky for some) at the center


Milton wrote:
"Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man, did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me?"


the modern paraphrase would be

"nobody asked to be born"

so screw you God... :-D

but this is often the result of the typical orthodox literalist christian theology, it breeds a resentment in that as one fails to enjoy life, as one sees the sheer absurdity and abundance of suffering, as one fails to measure up to the standard set, one then resents God's expectation, the idea that one can't be good so one turns to the supposed Creator and says "Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man"

you got me into this mess, you get me out, or to hell with your requirements. :lol:

but of course other mythologies, theologies, metaphors, worldviews etc dont suffer so much perhaps from this angst.

for example if you thought that you were part of a mystery emerging through an evolving universe you wouldn't be so prone to this malady, you wouldn't be looking for the guy to blame, you would know you are part of the guy to blame, you are doing it to yourself (so to speak) :-D

here's a page with some parallel attempts.

http://j5chicken.edublogs.org/2011/02/1 ... omparison/

my problem is i've got a lot on atm and the only way i've been able to get to the book is listening to the audiobook as i fall asleep, i get all these great ideas but of course i then pass out and can't remember them when i awake.

like when you can't remember a really cool dream if you dont write it down immediately.

something to do with the body releasing dmt into your system as you sleep. 8)

pineal gland?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dimethyltryptamine



Tue Jun 24, 2014 1:56 am
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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
It has been a number of years since I've read Frankenstein for the first time. I'm finding it interesting how much the movie versions have taken place of the book in my mind. As is often the case, the book is much more cerebral without the emphasis on the actual creation so much as the psychology of the creator.
I found the letters very interesting as a way to set the stage for the eventual story.
The Milton quote is very appropriate since the poor creature had no say in his design.



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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
What I liked about these first three chapters is that Shelley doesn’t mess around. I didn’t have to wait until halfway through the story for anything really good to happen. We get two chapters of set-up, where she nicely gets us on the edge of our seat:


“that passion, which afterwards ruled my destiny[…] has swept away all my hopes and joys.”

And we, along with Walton, want to ask Dr. Frankenstein, “What passion? Tell us!” At this point Shelley has got me very intrigued. And then Frankenstein begins to spill it without too much waiting:


“but what glory would attend the discovery, if I could banish disease from the human frame, and render man invulnerable to any but a violent death!”

Eh, no big deal, he just wants to invent immortality--Small potatoes!


Chapter 2 made me think of Darren Aronofsky’s film “The Fountain”, where Hugh Jackman proclaims death is just “a disease” that he will cure when his wife dies of cancer. I was also struck by the terms Frankenstein uses to refer to death; they really serve to show the reader his deep antipathy to it:


“That most irreparable evil…that rude hand…the spoiler”

So Frankenstein has deep curiosity, a love of learning, and also personal loss, grief, and pain to powerfully drive him in his studies.



Professor Waldman’s lecture is almost a scientific sermon. I never took chemistry, but I would love to take it from Professor Waldman. He speaks of the natural philosophers “perform[ing] miracles”. I was struck by the powerful verbs he uses here to describe what these scientists can do: “perform…penetrate…shew…ascend…discover…acquire…command…mimic…mock”

None of these verbs make me associate these scientists with qualities of humility and reverence for nature; rather they make me think of the scientists as bold, daring, invasive, irreverent, and presumptuous-- even as they achieve great things beyond imagination.

“But these philosophers, whose hands seem only made to dabble in dirt, and their eyes to pour over the microscope or crucible, have indeed performed miracles. They penetrate into the recesses of nature, and shew how she works in her hiding places. They ascend into the heavens; they have discovered how the blood circulates, and the nature of the air we breathe. They have acquired new and almost unlimited powers; they can command the thunders of heaven, mimic the earthquake, and even mock the invisible world with its own shadows.”


“None but those who have experienced them can conceive of the enticements of science. In other studies you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder.”

Here it’s as if Frankenstein is not exactly defending his actions, but explaining why you shouldn’t judge him for the mistakes he’s made, and why he made them.

“Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed? It was a bold question, and one which has ever been considered as a mystery; yet with how many things are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or carelessness did not restrain our inquiries.”

It’s interesting that Frankenstein attributes our holding back from exploring mysteries to either cowardice or carelessness. One thing he doesn’t mention that might hold one back is the belief or feeling that perhaps we are tampering with something we shouldn’t; not fear exactly, but perhaps more along the lines of not wanting to go against the natural order of things? And what is more natural than death? I’m hesitant to ascribe that reluctance simply to the sway of revealed religion, even in the early 19th century; maybe that kind of reluctance to tamper or explore the mysteries of nature is more of a respect for natural or reason based religion. It makes me think of that line in Jurassic Park where Dr. Malcolm says something like “you’ve been so focused on whether or not we could do something that you didn’t stop to think if we should.” ”


“Until from the midst of this darkness a sudden light broke in upon me — a light so brilliant and wondrous, yet so simple, that while I became dizzy with the immensity of the prospect which it illustrated, I was surprised that among so many men of genius, who had directed their inquiries towards the same science, that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret.”

The way he phrases his discovery here sounds very humble—“that I alone should be reserved to discover so astonishing a secret”, almost as if he was chosen to do this, and simply placed there, and not that the discovery was due to his efforts.

“After days and nights of incredible labour and fatigue, I succeeded in discovering the cause of
generation and life; nay, more, I became myself capable of bestowing animation upon lifeless matter.”


“It was with these feelings that I began the creation of a human being.”

“Having spent some months in successfully collecting and arranging my materials, I began.”


I had to chuckle a bit at his use of the anodyne word “materials” to describe what must at least partly be corpses in various stages of decay, assorted body parts, animals, etc. As a teacher, when I have to write a formal lesson plan, they always want a “materials needed” section in the plan. I’m picturing Frankenstein sitting in his study or laboratory writing his list of things necessary to explore how to bring back the dead.

And then Shelley turns the dial for creepy and gross way up to at least 7:

“Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay? […] I collected bones from charnel houses; and disturbed, with profane fingers, the tremendous secrets of the human frame. In a solitary chamber, or rather cell, at the top of the house, and separated from all the other apartments by a gallery and staircase, I kept my workshop of filthy creation; my eyeballs were starting from their sockets in attending to the details of my employment. The dissecting room and the slaughter-house furnished many of my materials; and often did my human nature turn with loathing from my occupation, whilst, still urged on by an eagerness which perpetually increased, I brought my work near to a conclusion.”

Yikes! I had a couple of different thoughts here. First, he doesn’t hold back on the description of what it is he is dealing with—I love the detail. I can practically feel and smell the dirt from the graves he is digging up. Shelley hasn’t been terribly explicit in this passage, but there are several really powerful words that really put the images in my head—bones from charnel houses…filthy…eyeballs…sockets…dissecting room…slaughter house”. Even though the mention of eyeballs and sockets doesn’t refer to corpses, but to Dr. Frankenstein himself, the word “eyeball” here in particular is very disturbing. I love it.

Some of Shelley’s words, like “unhallowed…profane…secrets…filthy creation…” make me see Frankenstein’s view of what he is doing as wrong, even as he does it. I think that’s actually something most of us can relate to (not the digging up corpses part hopefully :chatsmilies_com_92: ) but other things we might do because of a strong desire that we know we really shouldn’t.

What a great story so far—I’m really enjoying it.


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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
I also paused at the word "materials". I think that lines up with this part of Prometheus:
Quote:
Prometheus had assigned Epimetheus the task of giving the creatures of the earth their various qualities, such as swiftness, cunning, strength, fur, and wings. Unfortunately, by the time he got to man Epimetheus had given all the good qualities out and there were none left for man. So Prometheus decided to make man stand upright as the gods did and to give him fire.
http://www.prometheas.org/mythology.html



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Post Re: Chapters 1, 2 and 3: Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
This is as good a place to bring this up as any. Until we began this discussion, I had never read "Frankenstein." All my knowledge was based on the movie and television versions I had seen. I have seen and heard Frankenstein (the man) referred to as "Doctor" and/or "Baron." In at least one of the early movies, his father is called "Baron Frankenstein." My point: through Chapter 8, I have seen no reference to either title. Alphonse (the father) is wealthy, but not title is given. Victor (the son/narrator) never refers to himself as doctor. Anyone have any idea where these titles orginated?


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Mon Jun 30, 2014 11:53 am
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