A few weeks ago I went to see Frankenstein at UCCS. My friend Samantha let me know about the awesomeness happening (even though I was a bit reluctant to go in the beginning) and invited me along. If you’d like to read about her experience you can click here. Beware: there is a ton of Benedict Cumberbatch love. (If you haven’t seen Sherlock from the BBC, you’re missing out. You can read about it here.)
While I am a fan of the fabulous Mr. Cumberbatch (who has just about the best name ever), that’s not really what I want to focus on in this post. Danny Boyle, who also directed Slumdog Millionaire, focused primarily on the relationship between the creator and the created. He made an effort to give the Creature a voice, which is what makes this work so spectacular.
Created in His Master’s Image…
The Creature is “born” at the beginning of the play and although his body is that of an adult male, his functions, thoughts and movements are that of a newborn. He writhes on the floor, becoming increasingly aware of his limbs, his face, smells around him, flashes of light that frighten him, like a baby. However, he has the brain of an adult, his ability to function grows rapidly. Soon he can make sounds, stand and walk. His walking turns to running, his sounds become sounds of wonder. He is alive.
Then his creator, Frankenstein walks in. Frankenstein sees what he has created and for a brief moment, he is in awe. His accomplishment is before him, marvelous in function and structure. But then he takes a closer look. His creation is ugly and gangly. His skull, face and body are stitched from where Frankenstein inserted his brain. His body looks awkward and scary in the shadows of his laboratory. Repulsed, Frankenstein runs, ashamed of what he’s made. The Creature, in turn, tastes rejection and abandonment. He never gets a name. He runs into a world he doesn’t know. Bewildered, he is continually rejected by those he runs into. Yet, he is also able to rejoice in the simple things like the feel and smell of grass underneath him. The cleansing power of rain. The faint song of the bird in the tree. The heat of the sun on his skin.
Evolution of Two Monsters
The evolution of the Creature’s character is amazing. He learns, he understands, he adapts to the humanity within him. He feels, desires and seeks out acceptance. In the midst of rejection from most of society, he meets an old, blind man who teaches him of the world and history. Of love and hate. Of good and evil. Yet, it is from this man that the Creature feels the most betrayal and ultimately destroys his house and home, once again rejected – not by the old man, but by the man’s family.
The Creature continues to give into the feelings of revenge and hate by going after Frankenstein and his family. By this time he has learned manipulation and lying. He kills Frankenstein’s brother. He uses violence as a means to force Frankenstein into action. Finally, the Creature fully throws himself to evil through the rape and murder of Elizabeth, Frankenstein’s fiancée.
Yet, Frankenstein is no better. He is blind, full of pride. Before her death, Elizabeth accuses him of seeking to best God. She knows he doesn’t create to experience the beauty of creation, but desires to be equal with God. He is immersed in his work to the point of ignoring all around him. His spirit is obsessed with its own abilities. He is encompassed with a madness only self love can bring and he pays the ultimate price for it – his own life.
The Creature tells Frankenstein he could have been something if only Frankenstein had embraced him instead of rejecting him. Frankenstein tells the Creature that he regrets ever creating him because he has become vile and filthy. The sad aspect of this conversation is neither can see past themselves. Yet they are a mirror to each other. Frankenstein is a twisted picture, darkly painted, of humanity’s relationship with our own Creator.
He Looked on What He Created and Called It Good
People have said that there is no trace of morality in Frankenstein. I disagree. Morality is never more evident when its exact opposite is played out before you. Whether Mary Shelley meant for this to happen or not is inconsequential. It is the truth. Yet, what is so amazing is the hope we are offered. This is why I was so struck with the story. Our God is not Frankenstein. He sought relationship with His creatures. He bestowed the ultimate honor by making us in His image. And yet we reject Him. We allowed our desire to be something more, to be equal to Him override all that He has done for us. We consistently become the Creature, fully embracing the darkness of our soul and running from He who had made us.
Yet again, our God is not Frankenstein. Even in His anger towards humanity, He still saved eight out of the flood during the time of Noah. He didn’t start again. He sought to sanctify, to set apart, that which He made for Himself. Throughout time, He has endured the rejection of those He knows by name. Despite our tendency to dismiss His goodness, He still draws us to Himself. Even though we ignore His commands, we believe the lies about Him and hide ourselves from Him, He still calls out to us.
Yes, our Jesus – our God…. our Holy Spirit is not Frankenstein. Where Frankenstein sought to destroy his creation, Jesus has looked to redeem us. Frankenstein would not bear the responsibility of what he had done. Yet Jesus has done more. Not only has He borne the evil we have committed against Him, He has borne us. He has not left us as orphans, He is with us. His Spirit reveals the Truth and depth of His love for us.
As Easter approaches, let us seek Him. May we pursue Him, that our relationship would not be one of only Creator and Created, but Father and son. Father and daughter. That we would know our Friend who sticks closer than a brother. And ultimately, that we would breathe, move and live every moment we’ve been given for Him, no matter the cost.
Despite what we are and because of Who He is, He bids us come. May Easter not be a holiday celebrated but a reality practiced.