Like her mother, Mary Shelley lived the life of a woman intellectual. Engaging public issues through her writing she offered a multifaceted view of the existing world through the speculative lens of other social and political possibilities. As a divine warning and portent of what to come, she was, in the etymological sense, a monster.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein lives on, constantly amazing us with its currency and power, taking on new and surprising forms, moving us as few other works of nineteenth-century fiction can. However, in our technically advanced, digital age it is not the flawed man of science who commands our sympathy or respect, but more often the monster.
Frankenstein joined a host of works that deemed some individuals more fit for the study of Nature than others, prescribed appropriate comportment for those who would pronounce on its laws, or imagined the consequences of a world shaped by reason alone.
Frankenstein is, in a way, a story of a man’s desire to be liberated from himself. Nearly 150 years later, Frantz Fanon explored similar themes, such as the perspective of the creature’s desperate search for love and recognition, and also the bondage of nihilistic portraits of creators and the created.