Thursday, September 22, 2011

Gods and Mortals - Lindsey Kasmiroski

The Bride of Frankenstein is another classic depiction of the terrifying story of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. The beginning of the movie has the "character" portrayal of Mary Shelley lamenting the fact that the publishers had not clued in to the moral of her story. That a man cannot pose as God to create life. While the film begins with Frankenstein swearing off any more experiments in order to live a happy, normal life with Elizabeth, it is not long before his God complex tempted him back into the ring of creation.
This movie has a slightly different central story line than its predecessor. While there is the underlying theme of creation of life from death, this creation is in the service of friendship. The monster continues to haunt the countryside until he lured be the sound of a violin to a cottage owned by a blind man in the middle of the woods. This is the first time that the monster is ever called "friend" and is not met by screams and pitchforks. This is also the first time that the movie lends to the learning ability and the intelligence of the monster as he begins to pick up language skills and leave the grunting behind.
In this film, Dr. Frankenstein has a partner who is seemingly pulling all the strings for this round of creation. This Dr. Pretorious has a slightly different method of creating life than his medical colleague. Dr. Pretorious, instead of robbing graves and creating life from death, "grew creatures like cultures. Grew them from the seed." This, of course, is shortly after toasting to "a new world, of gods and monsters". This new character is another man who has been corrupted by the power-lust of having created life. With lips wet with the taste of Godliness, the new doctor uses the monster's utter despair and solitude as a means to coerce Frankenstein into trying again.
This struggle for friendship with the monster is a major theme throughout this film and the novel. In the book, the creature yearns to be a part of the family in the woods. He helps them, and he watches them, but he dares not go near them after his run-in with the villagers. Even in the film, one of the first words he learns to articulate is "alone" which is shortly followed by "friend". In a way, the pain and the emptiness the monster feels can parallel with the feelings of Dr. Frankenstein. Being on a God pedestal having created life from death, he is alone. His fear of the monster and his seclusion from others is just another form of forced solidarity.
These pressures of being on a different plain of "humanity" cause different emotions for the characters. Dr. Frankenstein somewhat retreats into his manor where he, Elizabeth, and his servants are his world. Dr. Pretorious finds comfort among the dead, where after he finds the perfect body for the monster's bride he decides to stay there and retreat into his own madness and solitude. And of course, the monster, in both the book and the film, is filled with rage and resentment because he is forced to be so alone. At one point in the book, the monster comes across a sleeping woman in a barn. As he gazes at her, he feels the sadness of knowing that one look from her would bring nothing but screams of terror.
"Here, I thought, is one of those whose joy-imparting smiles are bestowed on all but me...Should she indeed awake, and see me, and curse me, and denounce the murderer? Thus would she assuredly act if her darkened eyes opened and she beheld me. The thought was madness; it sturred the fiend within me..." (Shelley 161).
The end of Bride of Frankenstein is interesting in the way that all of these lonely creatures: the creators and the creations are together in one room. The monster is at the lever and ready to kill everyone, but spares Dr. Frankenstein. This is puzzling because of the concern expressed by Mary Shelley's character in the beginning of the film that no one had gleaned the lesson of man cannot play God. If Dr. Frankenstein was to truly be punished, he would have died with Dr. Pretorious and his creations. In the end, the monster recognizes how separate they all are from true humanity and "blows them all to atoms", killing everyone (except Frankenstein and Elizabeth) and displaying their evident mortality.


  1. While I felt that you bring up a lot of interesting insight on events from the movie and compare them to the book, I felt the essay as a whole didn't come together very well. My problem was I wasn't quite sure what your thesis was. At the start of your essay you were mentioning the idea that man cannot play God and create life, but as it continued it didn't quite elaborate on it.

    In your second paragraph you mention that the movie's script is different from the book because of how creation is in the service of friendship. But then you didn't explain or describe a visual scene that demonstrated such. I haven't seen the movie, so I think it would be helpful to be descriptive so your readers can all follow along. The last sentence also confused me because in the book the monster was portrayed as a highly intelligent being from the start.

    Paragraph three you introduced Frankenstein's colleague, which I thought would be another good way to support the idea of man shouldn't play God. However, it's a bit vague. I think the paragraph can be stronger if you elaborated on how the new doctor manipulates Frankenstein through his monster to continue creating life.

    Paragraph four I think your thoughts need to be better organized. The first sentence throws me off because you open the paragraph talking about friendship with the monster but the last time you mentioned friendship was at the start of paragraph two. It doesn't connect very well with what you were previously addressing in paragraph three. I think it would be interesting to point out the different ways the book depicts the monster's desire for friendship versus the visual representation of his desire through his interactions. Maybe describe a specific scene that demonstrates this.

    Overall, I felt like you make a lot of good points, but the organization needs to be improved. Also, there's some spelling and grammar errors that should be fixed.

  2. Estella's comments cover most of what I would say. One danger in writing about a film or book the rest of the class hasn't covered is that you might feel like you're obligated to explain the whole thing, which you do.

    Your explanation isn't pointless - your focus on the theme of friendship does show the direction in which you're moving.

    Here's the critical part of the prompt: "Discuss, in depth, a visual choice made by the movie as a response to some element of the novel, citing the relevant passages in detail.

    In other words, point out a visual way in which the film develops/resists/questions/changes the novel, and present a clear argument about what that choice means (and why it matters)."

    You are *mostly* summarizing the film. While your focus on friendship is worthy, you needed to cut the summary in order to develop the argument, especially through some elements of the visual character of the film

    Since you're interested in the ending, the ending would have been the obvious place to start.