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Topic: Victor Frankenstein A Mad Scientist? Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 02 October 2018 at 10:06am | IP Logged | 1 post reply

Kathryn Harkup, author of MAKING THE MONSTER: THE SCIENCE BEHIND MARY SHELLEY'S FRANKENSTEIN, was interviewed by the magazine "Philosophy Now". She was asked if Victor Frankenstein was mad.

She said he wasn't. She said he was obsessed, lacking in foresight, and desperately in need of an ethics committee to oversee his work, but she didn't consider him mad. She talked about how the image of Dr. Frankenstein as a mad scientist is entirely from film and theatrical adaptations of the novel.

That got me thinking. I can't really talk about the novel as it's been donkey's years since I've read it.

If memory serves me right, and memory can be faulty, Colin Clive's portrayal (FRANKENSTEIN and THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN) did show us a mad scientist. I felt that Peter Cushing's portrayal, however, was more restrained in the Hammer Studios films he did.

There have been so many FRANKENSTEIN adaptations that I can't, whilst typing this, think of every Victor Frankenstein portrayal, but some that stand out don't make me think of the typical "mad scientist".

I suppose one could ask further questions. Cushing's Dr. Frankenstein didn't seem mad in the "waving hands and screaming" sense, but does madness necessarily equate to that? Can madness come in any form?

That aside, I suppose I'm going to throw some questions out. Answer as man or as few as possible:

1.) Would you say Victor Frankenstein, as originally envisioned by Mary Shelley, was mad?
2.) Do you think a particular actor got it right? Any favourites?
3.) What is madness?

That last one could be a topic in itself! 
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Bill Collins
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Posted: 02 October 2018 at 11:14am | IP Logged | 2 post reply

He was a pioneer, trying something new in the scientific
field, was he morally wrong to try to create life or
resurrect the dead? Is this not what scientists are
still trying to do today? Maybe he did need an ethics
committee.

What IS madness? A deviation from the accepted norm?
That would make most of us mad in some way!
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John Byrne
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Posted: 02 October 2018 at 11:35am | IP Logged | 3 post reply

Madness alone is sterile. Imagination alone is sterile.

Together, they are GENIUS.

I think Salvador Dali said that.

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Peter Martin
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Posted: 02 October 2018 at 12:17pm | IP Logged | 4 post reply

Cushing's Frankenstein was callous and immoral. He kills someone so he can use their brain in his creation. He digs up and revives his monster after it has already murdered and then uses it as a tool to kill someone else who has become a problem for him.

Colin Clive's version was certainly obsessed in the first part of the film, but I'm not sure he qualifies as 'mad'. He listens to reason, realises his creature is a mistake and a danger to others and never really goes back on that view in the first film.

I wouldn't say Victor Frankstein is mad in the novel. Certainly misguided and obsessed, yes. Mentally unbalanced? He does seem to suffer several nervous breakdowns, which I suppose is a form of mental illness.

I would define madness as mental illness to the extent that someone is unable to safely function in society. Probably doesn't adequately cover all the bases.
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Robbie Parry
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Posted: 02 October 2018 at 12:17pm | IP Logged | 5 post reply

That's a quote I hadn't heard previously, but I like it!
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Brandon Frye
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Posted: 10 October 2018 at 7:41pm | IP Logged | 6 post reply

Dr. Frankenstein was deemed mad because he believed he could create life from death. 

A reasonable deduction, if you ignore the pesky little fact that he succeeded!

Dr. Frankenstein (much like Dr. Jekyll) actually accomplished what he set out to do, regardless of how badly it ended. 


 
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