No Igor, No Problem


I finished reading Frankenstein and have had time to mull it over. It really wasn’t what I had been expecting. When I hear the word Frankenstein I think of some dark castle on a stormy night while a crazy scientist and his hunchback servant are flipping giant switches. Several of these things aren’t even in the original story.

What first threw me for a loop was how the story started. It didn’t begin in a castle on a stormy night, but as a series of letters from a Robert Walton to his sister. He chronicles his need to explore and understand, which obviously gets him in a spot of trouble when his ship and its whole crew are stuck in the ice while up in the northern sea. It is only during this time that a dog sled with a suspiciously tall character passes them. When the ice starts to break a bit they encounter a second dog sled nearby trapped and decide to rescue the man. It takes a few days for the starved, and frostbitten man to recover enough to introduce himself. His name, Victor Frankenstein.

After a few more days of them stuck again in the ice. Victor tells his story to Robert while Robert writes it all down. Not only is the story book-ended in these letters much like Dracula was, but we not only get a story within a story, but about halfway through the monster tells his story to Frankenstein, who then dictates it to Robert.

There were two things that stuck out for me during the chapters in which the Doctor makes his monster. The first being the extreme vagueness of the craft. He mentions chemicals and materials, but that’s all. There wasn’t even the iconic scene of a lightening bolt jump starting his monster to life. (Although the scene of lightening striking an old tree was a scene early in the novel.) The second was that there was no Igor. I won’t lie, that kind of bugged me. I was expecting him to show up as more and more was explained about the monster’s creation.

Everyone reading this knows how the monster shambles and either talks poorly or only in grunts and groans. When the monster first speaks in the book he has all the literacy of an Englishman and the vocabulary to match.

These big differences kept me interested in the story, as well as trying to understand why the story had changed over time. In the same way continents slowly shift after millennium, the stories in our pop-culture slowly change as the years go by. Why? Because when writers, filmmakers, cartoonists look to the story, they look to the version they have experienced instead of returning to the source material. After all, why read the book when you can watch one of the old movies? That simple fallacy is what allows stories to shift their contents, characters, and morals.

I recently watched two movies based off the book Animal Farm. One was the live action one while the other was the animated version. Both made some derivations from the novel, not out of contempt for the material but simply to make the story fit better into a different format. These simple changes of necessity could be viewed as canonical and used in future adaptations.

In a way it seems like these evolutions are unavoidable. There will forever be new mediums to tell these stories and each will have their own restrictions and flaws that will require a story to be altered if passing from one to the next. Since there is already so much media out there and even less time now a days to enjoy them all, there is no way to expect people to take the time needed to consume the source material. What if an adaptation ends up being better and more enjoyable than the source material? Can you really disregard it simply because it’s not the original? As much as I feel it’s important to know the source material, I know that you can’t force people to consume media.


About Albedosrighthand

A young writer who treads the line between gamer and literary nutball.
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5 Responses to No Igor, No Problem

  1. Christi says:

    I never thought of taking a movie based on a book and making it canonical, but you’re absolutely right that that happens. I read Frankenstein without ever having seen the movies, but it was still interesting to compare it with society’s ideas about Frankenstein — which are everywhere and dramatically different than the book. Great post!

  2. Pingback: Starship Troopers and the notion of established Canon | Cardboard Castle

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