The movie version, directed by Kenneth Branaughpresents a slightly altered view of Victorian education. Although many facets of teachingcoincide directly with the novel, several instances in the film contradict the view ofeducation prescribed by Mary Shelley. The novel puts forth the opinion from an earlyage, Frankenstein has a desire and thirst for knowledge. This coupled with the death ofhis mother causes the misuse of knowledge and creation of Frankenstein’s monster.
Themovie, however presents Frankenstein’s education in a somewhat different light. Thefilm chooses to portray Frankenstein’s education as something he can easily be pulledaway from until the untimely death of his mother. Then, his education becomes anobsession, something he cannot be pulled away from. Mary Shelley presents the readers with a distinction of the education of the sexesin Chapter II of the novel, I was capable of a more intense application, and was moredeeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge.
She busied herself with following the aerialcreations of the poets; and in the majestic and wondrous scenes which surround ourSwiss home. . . she found ample scope for admiration and delight (Shelley 18).
This ishow the education of women is defined. Frankenstein says of his own education,While my companion contemplated with a serious and satisfied spirit the magnificentappearance of things, I delighted in investigating their causes. The world was to me asecret which I desired to divine (Shelley 18). Shelley gives plenty of examples in thischapter as to how the education of men and women differ.
The movie, however speaksvery little about the differences. The only markable difference we see is the scene in which Frankenstein isconducting experiments and working in his home laboratory when his mother comes,praises his accomplishments and rushes him away from them to come dance with theladies (Elizabeth does this exact thing later in the movie). The things ladies choose tobusy themselves with in the film is dance and music, while men are hard at work in thelaboratory (women are their distraction). Another difference between the novel’s education and the film’s education isshown in Frankenstein’s motivations for education.
In the novel he seems to always havea steady thirst for new and exciting things, the death of his mother only heightens hisinterest in the creation and destruction of life. His education becomes and continues tobe his primary focus, whereas the film presents this in a different light. The film shows Frankenstein as someone who enjoys knowledge, but also as aperson who can easily be persuaded to pay attention to other aspects of life. In a scenementioned previously, he is easily pulled away from his studies twice by ladies (hismother and Elizabeth). Frankenstein changes forever, as he does in the novel, with thedeath of his mother.
His primary focus is to recreate life. So, though the differences are slight, the education presented in the novel byMary Shelley and the film adaptation by Kenneth Branaugh are somewhat different. Thebook reveals much more about the education of women in Victorian England. The filmshows them only as interrupters of study and dancing fools.
The film and novel alsoshows a slight difference in Frankenstein himself. His motivation in the novel appears toalways be present and is only heightened by the death of his mother. While in the film,he enjoys his education, but does not take it quite as seriously until the death of hismother. It could be said the timings of heights or his educational curiosity are justdifferent. Works CitedMary Shelley’s Frankenstein, dir. Kenneth Branaugh, perf.
Kenneth Branaugh, HelenaBonham-Carter, TriStar, 1994. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Dover Publications, Inc. . 1994.