The Lasting Tale of Frankenstein

The concept coming from Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, is one of those stories that breaks through the standard exposure most literary works see and latches onto popular culture so that it sticks around for a very long time. You can go up to anyone and say “Frankenstein,” and they will know exactly what you’re talking about. And what’s not to like about it? You have a man who creates life by putting together a puzzle piece of a person and reanimating them to live on. Unfortunately, Frankenstein is also more know by what came after it than what is exactly told in it’s original iteration.


Boris Karloff as the creature in Frankenstein(1931).

Possibly the most well know telling of this story is the 1931 film, Frankenstein. Starring Colin Clive as HENRY Frankenstein and Boris Karloff as the creature, this film tells about a scientist who puts together his creature with help from his assistant Fritz(Whale). Already you can see there is a big difference with the changing of Victor’s name, and the addition of an assistant. Here, the creature is portrayed as unable to speak while the creature in the source material is intelligent and able to speak clearly(Shelley). It is this iteration above all else that is most remembered by the public. As before, when you say “Frankenstein” to someone, one of the most probable reactions you will get is an imitation of the creature as played by Boris Karloff.


Movie Poster to Young Frankenstein(1974).

While direct adaptations, or somewhat loose ones as in the previous section, are most frequently seen, there are some that take the idea and play on it in a comedic way. Young Frankenstein, written & directed by Mel Brooks, and starring Gene Wilder as a descendent of Victor Frankenstein & Peter Boyle as the monster, shows us a comedic take on the whole affair(Brooks). Ashamed of his ancestry, Dr. Frankenstein recreates the process to make his own creature(Brooks). Instead of the most intelligent creature or one of simple thought, we get once that see it fit to dance to a rendition of Taco’s “Puttin’ On the Ritz.”


David Anders as Dr. Whale/Victor Frankenstein in the tv series Once Upon a Time.

One of the latest iterations of the Frankenstein story comes from the television show “Once Upon a Time.” The overall premise of the show is that fictional characters from another world were pulled from there to the “real” world to live mundane lives with no memories of their former lives(Once). One of these characters is name Dr. Whale(named after the director of the 1931 film), portrayed by David Anders. He was known as Victor Frankenstein and within this world, his motivation comes from wanting to resurrect his brother. Unfortunately, regular science fails him, and he travels to a world with magic to get a heart with a little magical kick that is strong enough to endure the process(Once). So here you don’t have someone doing it for the recognition and fame, but for someone he loves.

Frankenstein is a story that will stand the test of time by being broken down into it’s base parts and molded into something new every now and again. Some ideas will be natural, and some will go in the opposite direction and make Victor a truly sympathetic character.


Work Cited

DASHBot. “Young Frankenstein Movie Poster.” Photograph. Wikipedia., 10 Mar 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.

“The Doctor.” Once Upon a Time. ABC. 28 Oct. 2012. Television.

Frankenstein. Dir. James Whale. Perf. Colin Clive, Boris Karloff. Universal, 1931. DVD.

KungAvSand. “Just a Minor Fluctuation Promotional Shot.” Photograph. Once Upon a Time Wiki. Wikipedia, 27 Feb 2013. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.

TheManinQuestion. “Bride of Frankenstein Promotional Shot.” Photograph. Wikipedia., 05 February 2010. Web. 18 Dec. 2013.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein. New York: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003. Print.


Young Frankenstein. Dir. Mel Brooks. Perf. Gene Wilder, Peter Boyle. 20th Century Fox, 1974. DVD.