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Frankenstein’s monster

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Doctor Victor Frankenstein creates a monster that turns against him. The monster itself is never named. It’s described variously as “it,” “monster,” “fiend,” and so on. So, strictly speaking, Frankenstein denotes the creator of the monster, and the monster itself should be called Frankenstein’s monster, Frankenstein monster, or some equivalent.

But the use of Frankenstein for the monster has been so common for so long that it is now rarely questioned. This usually extends to the metaphorical sense of Frankenstein—namely, an agency or creation that becomes uncontrollable and destroys its creator. Nevertheless, many careful writers use Frankenstein’s monster for the monster and reserve Frankenstein (or, for clarity, Doctor Frankenstein) for the creator.

Examples

Frankenstein


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In the last four months, Yemen’s youth movement has morphed into a socio-demographic Frankenstein that includes students, Islamists, socialists. [New Republic]

She wears a skin-coloured suit and it gradually emerges that she is a Frankenstein-like creation by the doctor. [Sydney Morning Herald]

You needn’t fear that your team will develop into some Frankenstein-like monster since. [Forbes]

Etc.

[G]arbling her way to language, she recalls Frankenstein’s monster. [Guardian]

There’s Family Guy anti-humor, and there’s reference humor, and then there’s this bizarre, Frankenstein’s monster-esque convergence of the two. [AV Club]

So attractive was the LX:XL idea that it was twisted into a Frankenstein monster of parliamentary democracy. [Winnipeg Free Press]

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Comments

  1. There is a point where the monster refers to himself as “the Adam of your labors” (to the doctor) and some people have gone ahead and named him Adam but as you point out, Shelley and the Doctor did not give him a name.

  2. Ghostrider939 says:

    It is IMPOSSIBLE to be all things to all people. Frankenstein’s monster DID NOT have a name, so why give credibility to those who LIE.

  3. I think of it as a metonym, so calling the monster by its creator’s name makes sense to me. The sound of the word Frankenstein is almost frightening in itself, so maybe people liked saying it that’s why it stuck.

  4. Junior’s been actin’ up

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