Reference to Frankenstein’s monster has become code for bringing someone back from the dead. There is a new Fox drama called Second Chance starting next week, which plays fast and loose with Mary Shelley’s famous concept.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle (January 8, 2016) ‘it is Frankenstein’s monster meets … Cinderella? Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is repurposed for contemporary times as an elderly man is murdered, but, thanks to some weird science by a pair of billionaire twins, he comes back as a much younger version of himself and sets out to avenge his own death.’
They even have a Mary character. One of the twins is called Mary Goodwin. (Nearly right, Mary Godwin being Mary Shelley’s maiden name). Tolerant as Mary was of the reimagining of her story, (see blog What Would Mary Shelley Think) I’m not sure how she would have felt about being a protagonist. Dilshad Vadsaria, who plays the Mary character, says she is a strong woman, intelligent, caring and compassionate.
Well, that’s OK then.
But really, reanimation misses the point of Frankenstein. The book is subtitled ‘The Modern Prometheus’, which is a clue that Mary was writing about man creating a whole new living being rather than regurgitating an existing one, even if he does come out forty years younger. Prometheus was the Greek deity tasked with creating man out of mud.
Mary had certainly been inspired by the possibility of reanimation. From 1803, Giovanni Aldini had a gruesome roadshow in which he took the corpses of executed felons and made parts of their body twitch by the new magical use of electricity. Mary, though, extended the debate. Dr. Frankenstein’s monster was morally and intellectually unformed and the novel is about the moral responsibility of a creator. Not sure how ‘Mary Goodwin’ handles the moral issues in Second Chance!
Footnote: In Greek mythology, Prometheus was tasked with creating man, and Epimetheus, his brother, with creating the animals. Epimetheus was given a wife by Zeus who was called Pandora - she of Pandora’s Box, who was too curious and let suffering out into the world. Coincidentally, I have written a poem with Epimetheus and Pandora as characters that you can read here if you are interested.