Study Guide

Frankenstein Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive)

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Henry Frankenstein (Colin Clive)

Frankenstein, Mad Scientist

Swipe left on Henry Frankenstein. There are more red flags on this guy than in a World Cup match between Switzerland and Turkey.

For one, his occupation is "mad scientist," and you do not traditionally want to be hanging out with mad scientists. (They'll only end up hurting you emotionally, or hooking you up to machines and dumping green bubbling potions down your throat and stealing your brain.)

But the fact that Frankenstein's a machine-hooking, potion-pouring, brain-stealing scientist isn't the only reason he's a jerkbag. His profession's only the tip of the iceberg. He has, as his teacher Dr. Waldman says, an "insane ambition to create life," and in his monomaniacal pursuit of his goal, he throws ethics aside, and then jumps up and down on top of them. He demands the university give him dead bodies and, as Waldman says, " [is] not to be too particular as to where and how we got them."

That means Henry's asking to cut up dead folks without getting the permission or consent of loved ones. Nice guy, eh?

Most other things he does are equally jerktastic. He abandons his fiancée with hardly an explanation, because he's terrified that someone will steal his ideas:

FRANKENSTEIN: You must have faith in me, Elizabeth. Wait, my work must come first, even before you. At night the winds howl in the mountains. There is no one here. Prying eyes can't peer into my secret...I am living in an abandoned old watchtower close to the town of Goldstadt. Only my assistant is here to help me with my experiments.

So, basically, he's so worried about someone eavesdropping on his mad scientist shtick that he hides away from Elizabeth with sneaking, nasty Fritz. You are who you hang out with, Frankenstein.

Frankenstein is unethical, he's selfish—and he's also full of himself. You know the rule that states that people who are rude to waiters are usually horrible to everyone? Well, Frankenstein orders around Fritz without so much as a "please."

And he's not only a raging dirtbag to his employees; he's also a literal megalomaniac. As the monster springs to life, he shouts:

"Now I know what it feels like to be God!"

(Hoo boy.)

Colin Clive plays Frankenstein with a flamboyant wild-eyed fervor in early scenes; he's delusional. What did Elizabeth see in him, anyway? Cut off that engagement and get far, far away, girl. He's no good for you.

Frankenstein, Marriageable Fella

But Hollywood loves a good change of heart almost as much as it loves a rags-to-riches story. After the monster comes to life and starts killing people, Henry switches his tune. Suddenly he's not interested in robbing graves and being God. He feels bad for Fritz getting killed, though he never seemed to care about the guy before. ("Poor Fritz, all my fault" he says in regret.)

And he decides that he'd rather be with Elizabeth than lock himself in a lab sewing dead body parts together. He tells her:

"It's like heaven being with you again."

To which she claps back, with a touch of exasperation:

"Heaven wasn't so far away all the time you know."

And once Henry leaves the castle, he's like a new man. Instead of stealing dead bodies, he makes preparations for his wedding. (Guess DIY centerpieces are almost as fun as DIY monsters.)

Even when things start to go wrong, and the monster escapes and threatens the village, Henry acts not like a mad scientist, but like a hero. He leads villagers to fight the big bad guy, and ends up confronting his creation alone and with courage.

From mad scientist bad guy, he's transformed into romantic lead good guy. Sewing a monster out of dead bodies and then watching various people get murdered was a growth experience. He became a better, more compassionate, less incredibly wacko dude.

Hey man, whatever it takes.

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