(redirected from Frankensteins)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Idioms.



Mary Shelley received her inspiration for the epic horror story Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus while visiting with Lord Byron, the brother of her future husband, Percy Byron Shelley, at his Swiss villa in 1816. At the tender age of eighteen, she experienced an extraordinary nightmare following a “ghost story” session in which she had participated with Shelley, Byron, his mistress, and a local doctor. Byron, inspired by the stories shared in the group, suggested that all present should attempt to write a horror story. Mary Shelley had a nightmare that night that she recalled vividly enough to use as the basis for her novel. The following is part of her account of that nightmare.

My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reveries…. I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together—I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half-vital motion…. He would hope that, left to itself, the slight spark of life which he had communicated would fade; that this thing which had received such imperfect animation would subside into dead matter, and that he might sleep in the belief that the silence of the grave would quench forever the transient existence of the hideous corpse which he had looked upon as the cradle of life…. Swift as light and cheering was the idea that broke in upon me. “I have found it! What terrifies me will terrify others; and I need only describe the specter that had haunted my midnight pillow.” On the morrow, I announced that I had thought of the story.

Frankenstein was published in 1818. The novel is based, in part, on Luigi Galvani, a scientist who concluded through a series of experiments that electricity was the secret of life. He believed it was actually possible to reanimate a corpse by using an electrical stimulus.

In the story, Shelley tells a tale of scientific terror in which Victor Frankenstein creates a living being out of the parts of decomposing corpses. The Frankenstein monster in the original version of the story was an intelligent being who was not only able to speak but also reason. He possessed sophisticated reading capabilities and knowledge; the objectionable irrationality of his temperament was his one significant negative characteristic. Shelley describes the monster as being a living travesty of death, comprised of the pieces of the recently buried dead.

The monster’s struggle with Victor parallels, in some ways, the biblical struggle of the demons and God. When, in the end, the monster is triumphant he exhibits feelings of remorse, regret, and self-hatred. His acknowledgement of the emptiness of retribution shows a sense of human compassion that is absent in most villains. In the end, the creature vows to destroy itself, but the story concludes with it disappearing into the snowy darkness.

The Dream Encyclopedia, Second Edition © 2009 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
And though he is not as eloquent as Frankenstein's beast, Hyde could well have quoted Milton's Paradise Lost to his all-too-human creator.
Even the name of the misshapen bell ringer, Quasimodo, tells us that this brutish creature is but "half-formed," and, like Frankenstein's beast, Hugo's disfigured monster seems cruelly fashioned of mismatched parts, his body a tortured terrain, his face a terrifying visage.
Like Frankenstein and Jekyll, the ascetic scholar and priest Frollo is a man who cannot abide the limits of his own mortality or acknowledge the all-too-human passions that burn within him.
Often regarded as one of the first science fiction novels, Frankenstein tells the story of a young student, Victor Frankenstein, who abandons his studies to pursue his dream of bringing the dead back to life.
Frankenstein reflects this personal history: It's a story about the dangerous and unpredictable process of bringing new life into the world.
Finally, on January 1, 1818, Shelley's novel Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus appeared in a print run of 500 copies in London.
The novel of 'Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus,' is undoubtedly, as a mere story, one of the most original and complete productions of the day....
That was why Victor Frankenstein was less in control of his own actions:
It needs to, since setting up the premise is often the hardest part of a musical or play, and "Young Frankenstein: The Musical" doesn't truly hit the high spots until it takes residence in the castle in Transylvania Heights.
Frederick Frankenstein, a young lecturer at the Johns, Miriam and Anthony Hopkins School of Medicine in New York City, learns that his mad grandfather has died and bequeathed him, as the only heir, the castle back in Transylvania and some of its hair-raising contents.
Robert Walton, an English explorer who, on his ship frozen in a northland sea of ice, hears the dying Frankenstein's story and also listens to the monster's account of, and reason for, its actions.
Henry Clerval, Victor's friend and a man of science who is killed by the monster to torment Frankenstein.