Just hearing the word “Frankenstein” sends chills down many students’ backs. Written by Mary Shelley, the 280-page book is a core aspect of the AP Literature curriculum and not always a welcome one. Many view it as yet another long, boring novel with fancy language most teens struggle to understand. While English teachers find hidden meanings in every little detail on each page, students struggle to understand what’s happening, let alone deciphering it.
For me, however, I thoroughly enjoyed reading Frankenstein. While there were some parts of the novel that seemed to drag on forever—namely the two-page long descriptions of scenery—I appreciated the detail Shelley put into her novel. Although I admit I skimmed over a large portion of these descriptions, I could see the time and effort she put into weaving those descriptions into the heart of her story. A raging storm represented Victor Frankenstein’s monster’s turn to evil due to the hardships thrown at him. The expanse of a mountain range personified Frankenstein’s vast lack of knowledge in relation to his creation.
Further, the society Shelley depicts in her novel is delightfully twisted. At every turn of the novel, they lied and deceived each other, hid some nasty skeletons in their yards and even tricked themselves into believing they were doing the right thing. When the professors ridiculed Frankenstein for what he believed was intelligence, I was riveted by the harshness of his society. Meanwhile, Justine Morwitz’s pressured false confession and subsequent hanging had me at the edge of my seat.
My favorite part of the novel was the structure. At first, I thought the story within a story within a letter would confuse me. However, it was very straightforward and presented an original way to tell a story. The structure set up a bittersweet ending that was more emotionally complex from an outside perspective.
I understand how someone could be apprehensive reading this book. It’s long, it’s for school and it’s a classic novel, something many teens turn their nose to. Despite this, the twisted nature of the novel speaks to the twisted nature of high school students. Overlooking the fact that it’s a book for school, I found myself enjoying Frankenstein more than I’ve enjoyed a book in a while.