The Dead Live On

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Frankenstein, performed by the Aquila Theatre Company, was awesome. Simply put, the acting was incredible, and the play itself is well-written. Even though I knew the story already, I was on the edge of my seat the whole time. I found it especially cool that actual language from the book was included in the production seamlessly. Anyone who knows anyone who saw it has heard that already, enough said. Let’s get Literary.

If you were to ask most people about the central themes in Frankenstein, you would probably hear a fairly standard answer: just because you could does not mean you should. And this is by no means incorrect! The story of Victor Frankenstein absolutely shows us the terrors of unchecked ambition – although he was pushing the bounds of science and could have propelled humanity into a golden age of medicine, his procedures were messy and his lab was not secure.

I won’t weigh in on how I feel about that question, as it has been hashed and rehashed since before Frankenstein was written. Inevitably, the question follows: was Frankenstein or his monster wrong? Neither? Both? Certainly neither are someone I would want following me on Instagram (@thejuniatianinsta). But at the same time, we sympathize with both. We can understand their good intentions as well as their failings. Good job, Mary Shelley and Nick Dear. That is what elevated the story to a world-renowned classic. As such, arguing this topic would be somewhat futile.

However, for me at least, this play presented an entirely new line of thinking that has been vibrantly fascinating in my mind. The Aquila Company created a monster that wasn’t green and spoke articulately. By making the monster look more human, his crimes were more horrifying. It was shocking not because it was grisly, but because it was plausible. A bone-chillingly excellent choice.

Also, and even more excitingly, the human portrayal forces us to ask a vital question that is unsettling in the extreme: What separates the Monster from the Human? The monster is made of human parts, as all humans are. The parts may have once been dead, but the same can be said about people with organ transplants, skin grafts, or prosthetics. Physically speaking, it has more of the requisite human parts than amputees. We watch it think, feel, love, pine, fear, and rage like humans. It even seems to be more human than his creator or his family in the way it empathizes and emotes.

The most common objection is that the monster does not have a soul; as this is unfalsifiable, I choose to ignore it. It is not known for certain if even humans have souls. I won’t answer that question for you. Everyone has the right to think as they like. But I do encourage you to write in to the Juniatian and let us know your thoughts. It is incredible how different people’s opinions on a single piece of literature can be.

A tremendous thank you to the Aquila Theatre company for their tremendous performance. Remember: your actions have ramifications. Capitalize on it.