Most moving about Mary Shelley's so-called "ghost story" Frankenstein are the incredible motivations that fuel it. How else could a monster have so captured our attention for nearly 200 years?
I plan another reading of the novel this weekend after reading it in college. That was after reading work by her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. The work was "Maria, or the Wrongs of Woman." It chilled me to the bone, I remember. It was about the time I was learning about the pioneers of women's rights, people like Elizabeth Caddy Stanton and Susan B. Anthony. One event stands out: The 1848 meeting at Seneca Falls, New York. It was the start of a 70-year struggle for women to have the right to vote.
Now why do I bring up women's rights, how does it relate to Frankenstein, and what's the big deal? How bad could it be?
It's no accident that this great outsider, this utterly marginalized non-man monster is misunderstood and feared. These themes were familiar to its author, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and to Mary Wollstonecraft.
Women were without a voice, without rights and without any sympathetic court when it came to property, crimes or abuse. They were marginalized from power, silent in government, without entitlement to property. They were considered trivial, chatty and mindless.
This tradition, unfortunately, haunts us even today ... as does the great monster.
AHEAD: Another reading of the great novel Frankenstein