Frankenstein's monster (also called the monster, Frankenstein's creature, or Adam) is a fictional character that first appeared in Mary Shelley's 1818 novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus. In popular culture, the creature is often referred to as "Frankenstein" after his creator Victor Frankenstein, but in the novel the creature has no name. When speaking to Victor, he calls himself the "Adam of your labors"; whereas Victor refers to him as "creature", "fiend", "spectre", "the demon", "wretch", "devil", "thing", "being" and "ogre".
Within a decade of publication, the name of the creator - Frankenstein - indicated the monster, but it became firmly established after the Universal film series starring Boris Karloff in the 1930s. The film was largely based on an adaptation for the stage in 1927 by Peggy Webling. Webling's Frankenstein actually does give his creature his name. The Universal film treated the Monster's identity in a similar way as Shelley's novel: the name of the actor, not the character, is hidden by a question mark. Nevertheless, the creature soon enough became best known in the popular imagination as "Frankenstein". This usage is sometimes considered erroneous, but usage commentators regard the monster sense of "Frankenstein" as well-established and not an error.
It’s Not Wrong to Call the Monster “Frankenstein”
In Shelley's novel
Victor Frankenstein builds the creature in his laboratory through an ambiguously described scientific method consisting of chemistry (from his time as a student at University of Ingolstadt) and alchemy (largely based on the writings of Paracelsus, Albertus Magnus, and Cornelius Agrippa). The creature horrifies Frankenstein, and the scientist immediately disavows the experiment. Abandoned, frightened, and unaware of his own identity, the monster wanders through the wilderness. He finds brief solace beside a remote cottage inhabited by a family of peasants, the DeLaceys. Eavesdropping on the family's conversation, the creature familiarizes himself with their lives and learns to speak by listening to the family teach French, their native language, to an Arabian daughter-in-law, whereby he becomes eloquent, educated, and well-mannered.
After much deliberation about revealing himself to the family, the creature introduces himself to its blind father, who treats him with kindness. When the rest of the family returns, they drive him away. Hopeful but bewildered, the creature rescues a peasant girl from a river, but is shot in the shoulder by a man who claims her, and swears revenge on Frankenstein for abandoning him to such intolerance, and accordingly kills Victor Frankenstein's younger brother. When Frankenstein retreats to the mountains to absorb his grief and despair, the monster approaches him at the summit and tells Frankenstein his story, while also pleading with his creator to manufacture a female equivalent to mitigate the loneliness of his existence. Frankenstein agrees, but, aghast at the possibility of creating a race of monsters, abandons the agreement. In response, the creature kills Frankenstein's best friend, Henry Clerval, and later Frankenstein's bride, Elizabeth Lavenza; whereupon Frankenstein's father dies of grief. Searching for the creature in the Arctic Circle, the scientist loses control of his dogsled and falls into the freezing water, contracting severe pneumonia. A ship exploring the region rescues Victor. Before succumbing to his illness and dying, he relates his story to the captain, Robert Walton. Later, the creature boards the ship; but, upon finding his creator dead, pledges to incinerate himself at "the Northernmost extremity of the globe" and departs.
Shelley described Frankenstein's monster as an 8-foot-tall (2.4 m), hideously ugly creation, with translucent yellowish skin pulled so taut over the body that it "barely disguised the workings of the arteries and muscles underneath"; watery, glowing eyes, flowing black hair, black lips, and prominent white teeth. The monster attempts to integrate himself into human social patterns, but is shunned by all who see him. This compels him to seek revenge against his creator. A picture of the creature appeared in the 1831 edition. Early stage portrayals dressed him in a toga, shaded, along with the monster's skin, a pale blue. Throughout the 19th century, the monster's image remained variable according to the artist.
The most well-known image of Frankenstein's monster in popular culture derives from Boris Karloff's portrayal in the 1931 movie Frankenstein, with makeup created by Jack Pierce and possibly suggested by director James Whale. Karloff played the monster in two more Universal films, Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein. Lon Chaney, Jr. took over the part from Karloff in The Ghost of Frankenstein, Bela Lugosi portrayed the role in Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and Glenn Strange played the monster in the last three Universal Studios films to feature the character (House of Frankenstein, House of Dracula, and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein); but their makeup replicated the iconic look first worn by Karloff. To this day, the image of Karloff's face is owned by his daughter's company, Karloff Enterprises, for which Universal replaced Karloff's features with Glenn Strange's in most of their marketing.
Since Karloff's portrayal, the creature almost always appears as a towering, undead-like figure, often with a flat-topped angular head and bolts on his neck to serve as electrical connectors or grotesque electrodes. He wears a dark suit having shortened coat sleeves and thick, heavy boots, causing him to walk with an awkward, stiff-legged gait (as opposed to the novel, in which he is described as much more flexible than a human). This image has influenced the creation of other fictional characters, such as The Hulk.
William Henry Pratt 23 November 1887 – 2 February 1969, better known by his stage name Boris Karloff, was an English actor.
Karloff is best remembered for his roles in horror films and especially for his portrayal of Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein (1931), (1935), and Son of Frankenstein (1939), which resulted in his immense popularity. His best-known non-horror role is as the Grinch, as well as the narrator, in the animated television special of Dr. Seuss's How the Grinch Stole Christmas! (1966). He also had a memorable role in the original Scarface (1932). For his contribution to film and television, Boris Karloff was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
His role as Frankenstein's monster in Frankenstein (1931) made Karloff a star. The bulky costume with four inch platform boots made it an arduous role but the costume and torturously administered makeup produced the classic image. The costume was a job in itself for Karloff with the shoes weighing 11 pounds (5 kg) each. Universal Studios was quick to acquire ownership of the copyright to the makeup format for the Frankenstein monster that Jack P. Pierce had designed. A year later, Karloff played another iconic character, Imhotep in The Mummy. The Old Dark House (with Charles Laughton) and the starring role in The Mask of Fu Manchu quickly followed. These films all confirmed Karloff's new-found stardom.
Bride of Frankenstein