The novel Frankenstein was the result of a group, reading frightful ghost stories.  The author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, wanted to [Quote] “Make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart” by writing about the “mysterious fears of our nature and awakening thrilling horror.” [End Quote]  Humans scare easily because terror is real.  Sudden movements may frighten us.  When the unexpected happens, we scream.  But the object of our fear is always something different than what we’re used to.  Like the villagers when they meet the monster in Frankenstein, we tend to run from what is unknown.

The word monster originally meant to point out or warn against evil.  Gargoyles on buildings, for instance, were originally used to alert city dwellers that monsters are everywhere[1].  So, books like Frankenstein are important because they remind us monsters are real.  I believe the essence of the whole novel can be summarized in chapter four.  Doctor Frankenstein admits [Quote], “In my education my father had taken the greatest precautions that my mind should be impressed with no supernatural horrors.” [End Quote]  Mary Shelley is making a bold statement.  Frankenstein should teach parents and teachers one truth: a supernatural battle exists all around us.

Gothic horror books and 21st century movies scream the existence of a supernatural world.  The famed writer Stephen King has been scaring his readers for decades.  Books turned to movies such as Needful Things, The Mist, and The Green Mile acknowledge that there is another world outside of our own.  Fear is appropriate and necessary: but knowing whom to fear is the key.

The monster in Mary Shelley’s novel is fearsome, to be sure.  But Frankenstein begs for a solution to fear.  The second verse of “Amazing Grace” is itself haunting: [Quote] Grace has taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. [End Quote]  It seems that fear is woven throughout our nature.  Perhaps the origin of our fear begins in the origin of human life.  The Genesis account of human sin gives us a clue.  Genesis says that humans jettisoned their relationship with God.  The fear of creation was substituted for the fear of The Creator.  We now substitute fear of the unknown on earth for fear of God in Heaven.[2] We want to watch horror movies yet cover our eyes when the terror strikes.  But when it comes to God it seems we can’t live with Him and we can’t live without Him.  For Moody Radio, this is Dr. Mark Eckel, personally seeking truth wherever it’s found.

Frankenstein should be read by everyone–especially scientists.  Mark teaches Old Testament at Crossroads Bible College.  This entry will air on Moody Radio, summer, 2011.

[1] Jonah Goldberg. 2000. “In Defense of Monsters.” National Review Online 29 November 2000.

[2] Proverbs 1:7; 9:10.

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  1. I read Frankenstein in 6th grade. I think perhaps I should read it again some time.

    There was a book I read in AP English. It was titled Grendel. I fell in love with it. Have you ever read it? It is the monster from Beowulf’s perspective. I won’t give away too much. Perhaps you could read it some time. I would be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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