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Comparing And Contrasting The Book And Play Version Of Shelley's Frankenstein

1624 words - 6 pages

Do not judge a book by its cover. Those are the words of a famous American proverb that says a person’s character cannot be judged based on their appearance. This proverb is very fitting in regards to the monster from Frankenstein. On the outside, he has a terrible appearance, and as a result is victimized and made to suffer by those who cannot see past his looks. Yet he has a kind soul and is simply looking for happiness and a little compassion from others. Both the book and the play present him as a sufferer in a cruel world but ultimately the book does a better job portraying his pain and eliciting empathy from the reader. The monster in the book details his suffering in greater detail, is more eloquent and persuasive and also experiences a more tragic ending, and as a result the reader feels more sympathy towards him than an audience member would feel towards the monster in the play.
The greater detail provided by the book about the monster’s experiences allows the reader to sympathize with the monster more so than an audience member. When the Frankenstein monster is retelling the story of the hardships he has endured, he mentions events that were overlooked in the play. One example of this is when the monster saved a girl’s life. Such an act would normally be considered very heroic and receive much praise under any circumstances, but instead the monster is rewarded by being shot, receiving only “the miserable pain of a wound which shattered the flesh and bone.” (Shelley 135) The book also examines the months of hard work the creature put into learning about human nature and language in order to be fully accepted when he chose to reveal himself. The monster hid by the cottage for around a year, listening and learning during the day and working to help the cottagers at night. The monster went to such extreme lengths in order to be accepted that even after he had become fluent in their language, read several books on human nature and understood history he still refused to reveal himself “until a few more months should have added to [his] sagacity,” (Shelley 125) Whereas the book provided an extensive array of events from the monster’s past, the play only focused on one. The play presented a modified version of the incident with the blind man and his two children that was not as impactful to the audience because it excluded many of the details told in the novel (e.g. the monster helping the family by night). Furthermore, the play omits the incident where the monster saved the girl, the incident when he walked into a village, was pelted with projectiles and chased out, as well as many others, thus limiting the viewer’s scope of his suffering. The play also failed to convey the amount of time the monster spent in misery before he met with Frankenstein. The monster spends years in anguish in the novel, yet in the play his torment seemed to have lasted a very short while. Understandably the sheer scope of this time could not be properly portrayed...

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