I may be “cheating.”
I started the class by showing them the Hallmark interpretation of the story. I’ve mentioned this production before – I really do love it. I’ve never seen the Boris Karloff film – can anyone give me a rundown of the story as the old filmmakers imagined it, please? – but I know that they involve a big, green guy whose only purpose in “life” is to terrify innocent villagers. The Hallmark story really does a decent job of telling the big ideas of Shelley’s novel – it touches on ambition and hubris, humanity and literacy, love, fear, and responsibility.
I think that the film, for all it’s really good stuff, has a few weak points, though. Frankenstein’s childhood story is altered a fair bit in the movie. He makes a couple of realizations in the film that he never quite gets to in the novel. The depth of Frankenstein’s obsession isn’t as serious in the movie as it is in the story. Lastly, the Creature, as played by Luke Goss, is a little too handsome in the film; I bet that, if seen in dim light, he wouldn’t be instantly repulsive or frightening.
My students, while admitting to being overwhelmed by the amount of reading I’m asking them to do in a short amount of time (“It’s a literature class, kids – you had to expect a lot of reading”), told me on Thursday that they were enjoying it. Only one student of the eight has had any experience with the text before – she read a portion of the novel in high school – and the rest of them seem pretty enthusiastic to get into it. One of my students – my only boy – told me, after reading through chapter four, that he understands why it’s my favorite novel. I’m still working out why it’s my favorite story, so I’m really looking forward to discussions with this group.
Their only homework this weekend was to keep reading (I’ve given them through chapter 21). I’m going to have to rely pretty heavily of my memory of the story (good thing I’ve read it about seven times already) because, since this is a Yoga National Guard weekend, I’ve got about zip-point-shit for reading time. I’ll probably get through to about chapter 15 or so – I was ahead of their reading last week, anyway – and we’ll start discussions on Tuesday. I can’t wait.
Have YOU read the novel? Do you like it? Let’s start a conversation here: gimme what you got!