I really did not care for this book. I guess, somehow, even though I knew the story, I had never read it, or seen it for that matter, and the plot holes were just gaping.
Why is the good Dr. so repulsed by his creation immediately? The Dr. has been assembling this guy from body parts. He is aware of his visage, hell, he made him. And yet, the moment after the magical spark of life is created, he is so repulsed by the creature that he immediately casts him aside. We are told that it is the body plus the spark of life, the movement, the near human-ness which makes the monster so utterly repugnant. Yet, where else in the story is the character so moved by aesthetics? Sure, he mentions the beauty of his home, the grandeur of his Alps, but the care and tenderness he repeatedly states about his friends and loved ones is always defined on their character, their humanity, never their grace or beauty. So why is the monster never allowed a genuine opportunity to become more?
And it is the touching quest of the monster to be more, to become human, to share in their joy and humanity that eventually turns his soul into a fair relation to his visage. The section where the monster desperately waits in a small shack adjacent to a family is one of the most touching of the book (if only my language students could do so well by merely sitting silently and soon become so eloquent). The problem with this whole scene is how it undercuts the main premise of the book. The beauty of his longing, and the inevitable brutal rebuff and casting out into isolation only captures the monster’s humanity. Yet, somehow we are supposed to empathize with the good Dr., or at least understand his choice of abandoning this hellish creature. The cruelty displayed towards the poor creature justified, at least in my mind, the eventual path he takes, and the inevitable brutality and revenge that follows.
I was never able to get over this juxtaposition: the rejection out of hand of one who had such longing and humanity in his soul. It made the Dr. entirely unsympathetic, and I felt that in the end, he got his just desserts. I thought we were supposed to understand his torments and tortures for playing God, and creating a monster. Yet it was his all too base humanity that got him in so much trouble. (Also, I guess we are supposed to not judge the literary failure too harshly when the Dr. is unable to make a routine inference about how the monster might best be able to exact his final revenge against his loved ones, especially since his encounter with Cervil showed us exactly how well the monster understood his maker)
I guess I just left the book confused. Am I supposed to think the Dr. is afflicted by his hubris at playing God. If so, then the author shouldn’t have done such a great job documenting his base humanity. On the other hand, if I am supposed to condemn the Dr. due to his visceral hatred due solely to aesthetic, then there REALLY needed to be more development on this theme. I am glad the book is short. By the end, I simply felt it was a chore, taking away my time from other books that might better know what they are trying to say.