The Wax Conspiracy

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Two centuries near removed from the original publication and it’s a microagression of modern times that comes through listening to the Creature talk. Quite articulate. Who would think a face capable of such eloquence?

On the lonely endeavour of carving a friend out of whole cloth, the Creature makes quite a game of running about the world chasing and not chasing Victor Frankenstein. It is the tale of a certain model minority who, in the backlash of their façade, struggles in the darkness to understand the terms and limits of their environment.

Who could describe their horror and consternation on beholding me? [...] I could have torn him limb from limb, as the lion rends the antelope. But my heart sunk within me as with bitter sickness, and I refrained.

The Creature is a self-taught individual and that strength of character says much for the fringes of society who feel as though no matter how much they learn the customs, how much they try and make outward peace, it’s the ingrained knee-jerk reaction of the majority that still governs their place. They can’t get ahead when the people in power keep running off crying blue murder at every dropped body that lands at their feet. Society, therefore, makes as much of us as anything nature imbues on creation.

But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses; or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy in which I distinguished nothing. [..] What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans.

Wiping dirt off the brow and sitting there with a cold body, it’s but another case of rushing to the grocer to buy all the ingredients before fully reading out the recipe. One that turns out to be a review of the repast, so we are left little in the scheme. For what it is, Frankenstein is not a guidebook to reanimating a body found fresh from the local graveyard. The scene happens, but is without explicit explanation so now you’ll be left lugging the corpse back before someone notices it’s missing.

Remember, I am not recording the vision of a madman.

What actually happens is a story within a story within another story. It’s levels of framing that also work to pick up on the concept of throwing perspectives to the wind. Truthfully that core concept of finding someone to befriend, someone to confide in, is at the root of it all. Those in-jokes, those casual conversations where you can start with, “remember that time...” and be warm in that reflection knowing the other person was there with you.

Each level down into the narrative presents a possible infraction, a turn of words that maybe what you’re reading is now filtered in a way that makes the narrator seem either unreliable, or even merely suspect in the presentation of the so-called facts. They are not going to make themselves out to be the monster in their own tale, so in come the subtleties and filtered view that make it all a judgement call.

In the mirror between Victor Frankenstein and The Creature, it’s the latter that comes off the more sympathetic of the two. Pain of want of acceptance crushing that spirit as much as hands wring a neck before the popping and silent gasp that escapes one last time before the limbs are limp, never to twitch again.

Every sentence seems to be dripping in anguish, or at least a pain in the heartbreak of not being able to control the story. Where it’s gotten out from under you and the bloody footprints its tracking keep holding your neck down. By the time the book evolves into what reads like a travel diary it’s apparent then that that is a cover for running away from your problems. Of trying to avoid the obligations and expectations. Whether it be internal or external, the pressure from the outer mental walls makes for long passages in foreign lands and taking in the scene.

Nothing really happens in Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus if you look at it. Nothing that isn’t set in motion by the hand of skirting responsibilities and letting loose into the wild a creation without fail-safes.

Frankenstein - Penguin Classics edition
Featuring The Wounded Philoctetes (1775) by Nicolai Abildgaard

Ethan Switch

Reviewed on Sunday, 17 April 2016

The Wax Conspiracy


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