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

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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