Study Guide

Frankenstein Madness

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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.

Part of Frankenstein's madness is that he's obsessed with creating life—he's madly ambitious. But the mad ambition links up with another madness: paranoia. Frankenstein hides himself away because he's afraid someone will steal his secret formula for creating life. He thinks he's become like a God…but then he's afraid someone else will steal his God-ness. Ambition and pettiness get all jammed up together, and so he ends up running off with Fritz when he could stay at home with Elizabeth. Bad judgment, Frankengoober.

WALDMAN: Only Evil can come of it! Your health will be ruined if you persist in this madness.

FRANKENSTEIN: I'm astonishingly sane, doctor.

WALDMAN: You have created a Monster and he will destroy you.

Frankenstein's kind of too sane; he is super-duper-reasonable. He uses science to create life, when no one else thinks he should be able to. It works—he's right and everybody else is wrong…but disagreeing with everyone else still makes him kind of mad. He's be a lot better off if he were less right, didn't know how to make a monster, and just stayed home warm and safe and got married. Better to be a boring mediocrity than a genius, as far as Frankenstein's concerned.

FRANKENSTEIN: But if you talk like that, people call you crazy. Well, if I could discover just one of these things, what eternity is, for example, I wouldn't care if they did think I was crazy.

Frankenstein wants to discover the secret of the universe, even if it means everyone shuns him. But then it turns out that the secret of the universe is a big old monster who growls and kills people. Maybe not worth being considered insane after all. Whoops.

FRANKENSTEIN: Quite a good scene, isn't it? One man crazy, three very sane spectators. Yes!

Part of being insane is that Frankenstein apparently realizes he's in a film. And, as he says, crazy people make for a good cinema scene. Colin Clive as Frankenstein grabs all the background scenery and just shoves it in his mouth and chews. "It's alive! It's alive!" Say what you will about mad scientists: they make good movie mayhem.

ELIZABETH: You'll soon feel better when you get out of here.

FRANKENSTEIN: It's like heaven being with you again.

ELIZABETH: Heaven wasn't so far away all the time, you know.

FRANKENSTEIN: I know. But I didn't realize it. My work. Those horrible days and nights. I couldn't think of anything else.

ELIZABETH: Henry, you're not to think of those things any more.

After the monster kills Fritz, Frankenstein comes to his senses. Suddenly, he's not mad at all anymore; it's like he's a completely different person. Madness is presented as a passing illness, but also as a choice. Frankenstein gave up on his fiancée, and chose to defy the natural order of things. That made him mad. But once he goes back to the fiancé, all is well again. Madness is less a problem inside Frankenstein than it is a problem with his relationship to society. All he needs to do is take off that lab coat, and his brain starts to work right again.

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