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200th Anniversary of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"
Intro CopyNo doubt since the end of Christmas/Winter break you have been spending some of your time looking around in the new eLibrary (which is pretty cool, if I say so myself). If you teach Literature, now would be a good time to let your students use the resources in eLibrary to research a story that blends some great writing with Greek mythology, Gothic horror and science fiction. This January marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s Frankenstein. She began writing the story when she was just 18, and the first edition was published January 1, 1818, when she was 20. The original title of the novel was Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. By now, almost everyone has seen at least one film version of Shelley’s tale. The best known is James Whale’s 1931 classic starring Boris Karloff. This movie, and many others, veered far from Mary’s original story. Even Thomas Edison filmed a version of it in 1910. SPOILER ALERT! As Shelley’s story goes, scientist Victor Frankenstein creates an artificial man from the parts of dead bodies and brings the creature to life. The “monster” initially seeks affection from Victor and others but is met with repulsion and horror. Alone and miserable, the creature turns his wrath upon his creator, and Victor dies. Filled with remorse, the monster ends his own life. The name Prometheus in the title comes from a character in Greek mythology who creates man out of clay and then steals fire and gives it to humanity. Zeus punishes Prometheus by sentencing him to eternal torment. In the Romantic era, the figure of Prometheus was often seen as a symbol of humankind’s overreaching quest for scientific knowledge and the consequences that would follow. eLibrary contains numerous resources to help students learn about Shelley’s Frankenstein as well as other topics such as Romantic literature, Gothic horror, mythology and science fiction. If you have time, definitely check out James Whale’s films Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein (1935), and, just for the fun of it, watch Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein (1974) which pokes gentle fun at all of the old horror movies while giving them their due at the same time. In his movie, Brooks used most of the original lab equipment from Whale’s 1931 film.