Nearly finished Mary Shelley's original "Frankenstein: Or the Modern Prometheus" this weekend. It far exceeded my memories.
If you know "the monster" only as Boris Karloff, it's time to read Mary Shelley's book. While the film stands on its own considerable merits, the book is a far different ... well ... beast.
Mary Shelley (daughter of proto-feminist author Mary Wollstonecraft) was a deeply sensitive young woman of 21 when she began putting together this story. No doubt wild-eyed from time spent with her companion Lord Byron and her husband, romantic poet Percy Shelley, Mary's writing burns with a desire to understand, and explain, man's cruel nature.
The "monster" here is a beast with a heart of gold. He is refined and self-educated and becomes hateful only when he is brutally rebuked by humanity because of his appearance.
Moreover, the quest for knowledge by Victor Frankenstein comes under harsh scrutiny by the author, who demands that we ask ourselves, as Mohandas Gandhi did, What is science without humanity?
Mary Shelley also captures the natural setting and evokes an icy land so cold and bleak you sense your own chills setting in; see the gray sky; and sink, as do the monster and his creator, into a dismal outlook of mankind.