Contemporary Response

An examination of critical response to Frankenstein

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JOHN Croker's review of Frankenstein may be adequately exemplified with this quotation regarding the monster:"his education has given him so good a taste as to detest himself, he has also the good sense to detest his creator for imposing upon him such a horrible burden as conscious existence" (374).  Croker's assessment of the novel is  generous, considering the vast majority of reviews were unfavorable towardthe book. The tone invoked by Croker is not unfamiliar to 21st century, and it is a wonder that people are paid to vilify the creative works of other people.

Sir Walter Scott offers a more favorable view of Frankenstein, but he includes a lesson in genre which must be gotten through first.  Scott's review is often grandfatherly in the way it expresses his views, and the last paragraph is overly sweet, as if he was trying to encourage through gritted teeth, "we shall congratulate our readers upon a novel which excites new reflections and untried sources of emotion" (382).  Scott seems unwilling to be overtly critical in his review of Frankenstein, perhaps knowing that this is the first project of a young writer.  Would that all critics were so sympathetic.

An anonymous review from Edinburgh Magazine seems to take a middle position between the review by Croker and Scott, stating "[i]t is formed on the Godwinian manner, and has all the faults, but many likewise of the beauties of that model" (382).  The anonymous author bears remarkable likeness to Croker in certain sections.  The author the inconsistencies and even the subject of improvement upon creation while still maintaining the beauty of the story as being "wild."  Nevertheless, this review seems biased towards a distinct political/moral bent; whereas, the previous two reviews seemed to be written from a literary point of view.

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Works Cited

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft.  Frankenstein.  New York: 

     Longman,   2007.