More than a Monster, More than a Novel

If the new generation does not associate Shelley's Frankenstein with the Frankenstein monster comics and films, the author is dead. This is the Death of Shelley IN Frankenstein. RIP

(c) Dave Coverly from Speed Bump, 2016
(c) Dave Coverly from Speed Bump, 2016

By: Shannen Coleman (A new Author)

Roland Barthes’ “The Death of the Author”, states that once a text has been interpreted through someone else rather than it’s parent (the original author), the text has separated itself into a different entity. Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, was originally published in 1818. This Gothic text has been used as an inspiration for an entire series of movies and graphic novels. Shelley’s original idea has been killed, just completely abandoned. No longer will readers see this creature as a complex being and the similarities he shares with his creator Victor. Instead, a green, brute monster that poses attacks on the village people has become his main character trait.

Not what Shelley Intended

The true nature that Shelley intended for her literary work is gone.

 

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“Once the Author is removed, the claim to decipher a text becomes quite futile. To give a text an Author is to impose a limit on that text, to furnish it with a final signified, to close the writing” (Barthes 147). When a text is interpreted by a new reader, a new idea will be the result. All people understand things differently and will take Shelley’s words and use them in their own original idea. Thus, a new author has been formed. The new interpretation carries a different meaning than it’s original Frankenstein spark.

Shane Denson wrote the article, “Marvel Comics’ Frankenstein” A Case Study in the Media of Serial Figures. He writes to explain that Frankenstein is still alive. Trying to reach the younger generation is not easily accomplished, but through comic’s a light has been found. Kids enjoy reading them. The novel may not be the first thing this generation thinks of when hearing about the monster. Instead, horror films and picture books is how Frankenstein is known. “Marvel’s Frankenstein comics of 1960s and 1970s offer a useful case study in the dynamics of serial narration, both as it pertains to comics in particular and the larger plurimedial domain of popular culture in general”(Denson 531). Ironically,

 

Something New

Frankenstein is known as the monsters name, and Victor has just become the “mad scientist”. Shelley’s text has completely been thrown out. So the question that needs to be answered is, is it a positive that Frankenstein had led to so many spin offs? Or should it be viewed as almost an insult to Shelley, by destroying her masterpiece?

 

 

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The reader will obviously never know Shelley’s true intent to write Frankenstein, and even more disappointing we will never know her view’s on the “new” Frankenstein character (both the monster and Victor) in the media today. We do have her husband Percy’s revised edition as an example of an advancement in her ideas. Both of their writings, so closely related with only minimal changes, actually transforms the text and leads to a complete different close reading. (Critical analysis of a text that focuses on significant details or patterns in order to develop a deep, precise understanding of the text's form or meaning.) In Mary’s edition she writes, “…I shudder to reflect the I have been the miserable origin and author” (Shelley 124). Percy takes this line and revises it into “…I shudder to reflect ever occurred-Cursed be the day in which you first saw light, cursed be the hands that formed you!” (Shelley 319). Each story has it's own life and meaning. Instead of thinking of transforming her novel for better or worse, completely separate the text into a different novel completely.

Claude Levi-Strauss and his theory of binary oppositions would actually oppose Barthes’ theory of “Death of the Author.” “It is precisely this awareness of a basic antinomy pertaining to the name of the myth that may lead us toward its solution”(Levi-Strauss 861). We do not need a solution. A colloquial way of describing Strauss’ idea would be in order for hot to exist, we need cold. One must be alive for the other to coexist. It is true that without Shelley’s creativity, the new cultural wave of Frankenstein in the media would not exist, but I do not consider her text alive in these films and comics. “….That the whole of the enunciation is an empty process, functioning perfectly without there being any need for it to be filled with the person of the interlocutors” (Barthes 145). The (new) author has taken Mary’s idea and made it his or her own.There are of course some similarities, but the differences is what makes the comic an original piece.

Frankenstein is considered to take the characteristics of many different genres, for example horror and science fiction. Others have even said it is actually an autobiography of Shelley’s life and the depression she was experiencing after the loss of her child. It does not matter. The text allows any interpretation the reader sees plausible. The original idea can become unknown and only has to exist in Shelley’s mind. Her original purpose for either Victor, the Creature, or Elizabeth cannot be justified as the correct interpretation.

Frankenstein may be viewed as something created purely for entertainment purposes today. Young kids enjoy his outlandish behavior and monstrous looks. Unfortunately, the beautiful and intelligent mind he once had, has now been replaced with stupidity. His creative words have been replenished with harsh grunts and ugly moans or sighs. It is rather odd how some interpret Victor’s creation. Popular culture today can keep expanding on any form of this monster because the original has it’s own place on the shelf. There is plenty of room for others.

(c) Descarga Gratis, Book #2
(c) Descarga Gratis, Book #2
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Denson, Shane. “Marvel Comics’ Frankenstein” A Case Study in the Media of Serial Figures.” Amerikastudien/ American Studies. Vol. 56, No. 4 (2011), pp. 531-553. Web.

The article, recently written in 2011, is still keeping the new idea of Frankenstein alive. Comics may seem a bit juvenile when thinking of Shelley’s novel, but it is another great way to interpret the text. A younger generation may actually appreciate the graphic novels more than the original. Either way, the author’s work is being taken into a new but respective form. “Marvel’s Frankenstein comics of 1960s and 1970s offer a useful case study in the dynamics of serial narration, both as it pertains to comics in particular and to the larger plurimedial domain of popular culture in general…I argue that Marvel’s staging of the Frankenstein monster mixes the two modes (linear and non-linear), resulting in a self-reflexive exploration and interrogation of he comics’ storytelling techniques” (Denson 531). This story is seen more as a narrative in comics’ and is open to many different interpretations. The amount of spin offs Frankenstein has led to in the comic book world seems countless. This particular graphic novel views Victor as a “mad scientist” creating the monster from scratch while lighting strikes and he endlessly cackles with laugher. Is it acceptable to stray so far from the original novel? Do either version carry the same traits to form the same genre? In Shelley’s novel the monster is shown to the reader as a very complex minded creature, with the want for love. In this comic, he is shown to his audience as nothing more than a mindless green brute. Can this influence the reader to view the monster as less than what Shelley wanted to portray him as, or should it just be taken as an entertainment purposes?

Shannen Coleman