Stephen King once said, using the Erica Jung[sic] quote,[...]
He raised his hand. "I wish my son alive again."
The talisman fell to the floor, and he regarded it fearfully. Then he sank trembling into a chair as the old woman, with burning eyes, walked to the window and raised the blind.
He sat until he was chilled with the cold, glancing occasionally at the figure of the old woman peering through the window. The candle end, which had burnt below the rim of the china candlestick, was throwing pulsating shadows on the ceiling and walls, until, with a flicker larger than the rest, it expired. The old man, with an unspeakable sense of relief at the failure of the talisman, crept back to his bed, and a minute or two afterward the old woman came silently and apathetically beside him.
Neither spoke, but both lay silently listening to the ticking of the clock. A stair creaked, and a squeaky mouse scurried noisily through the wall. The darkness was oppressive, and after lying for some time screwing up his courage, the husband took the box of matches, and striking one, went downstairs for a candle.
At the foot of the stairs the match went out, and he paused to strike another, and at the same moment a knock, so quiet and stealthy as to be scarcely audible, sounded on the front door.
The matches fell from his hand. He stood motionless, his breath suspended until the knock was repeated. Then he turned and fled swiftly back to his room, and closed the door behind him. A third knock sounded through the house.
"What's that?" cried the old woman, starting up.
"A rat," said the old man, in shaking tones--"a rat. It passed me on the stairs."
His wife sat up in bed listening. A loud knock resounded through the house.
"It's Herbert!" she screamed. "It's Herbert!"
She ran to the door, but her husband was before her, and catching her by the arm, held her tightly.
"What are you going to do?" he whispered hoarsely.
"It's my boy; it's Herbert!" she cried, struggling mechanically. "I forgot it was two miles away. What are you holding me for? Let go. I must open the door."
"For God's sake, don't let it in," cried the old man trembling.
"You're afraid of your own son," she cried, struggling. "Let me go. I'm coming, Herbert; I'm coming."
There was another knock, and another. The old woman with a sudden wrench broke free and ran from the room. Her husband followed to the landing, and called after her appealingly as she hurried downstairs. He heard the chain rattle back and the bottom bolt drawn slowly and stiffly from the socket. Then the old woman's voice, strained and panting.
"The bolt," she cried loudly. "Come down. I can't reach it."
But her husband was on his hands and knees groping wildly on the floor in search of the paw. If he could only find it before the thing outside got in. A perfect fusillade of knocks reverberated through the house, and he heard the scraping of a chair as his wife put it down in the passage against the door. He heard the creaking of the bolt as it came slowly back, and at the same moment he found the monkey's paw, and frantically breathed his third and last wish.
The knocking ceased suddenly, although the echoes of it were still in the house. He heard the chair drawn back and the door opened. A cold wind rushed up the staircase, and a long loud wail of disappointment and misery from his wife gave him courage to run down to her side, and then to the gate beyond. The street lamp flickering opposite shone on a quiet and deserted road.
"Go and get it and wish," cried the old woman, quivering with excitement.
The old man turned and regarded her, and his voice shook. "He has been dead ten days, and besides he--I would not tell you else, but--I could only recognize him by his clothing. If he was too terrible for you to see then, how now?"
Already by 1824, within a year of the first stage version, that had become the single, simple, unvaried meaning of Frankenstein-- a Creature that turns on its creator.
Fran. It comes -- it comes! -- 'tis nigh -- the moment that shall crown my patient labours, that shall gild my toilsome studies with the brightest joy that e'er was yet attained by mortal man. -- What monarch's power what general's valour, or what hero's fame, can rank with that of Frankenstein? What can their choicest efforts accomplish, but to destroy? 'Tis mine, mine only to create, to breathe the breath of life into a mass of putrifying mortality;
Fran. Now that the final operation is accomplished, my panting heart dares scarcely gaze upon the object of its labours -- dares scarcely contemplate the grand fulfilment of its wishes. Courage, Frankenstein! glut thy big soul with exultation! -- enjoy a triumph never yet attained by mortal man! (music. -- He eagerly lays his hand on the bosom of the figure, as if to discover whether it breathes.) The breath of life now swells its bosom. -- (Music.) As the cool night breeze plays upon its brow, it will awake to sense and motion. (Music. -- He rolls back the black covering, which discovers a colossal human figure, of a cadaverous livid complexion; it slowly begins to rise, gradually attaining an erect posture, Frankenstein observing with intense anxiety. When it has attained a perpendicular position, and glares its eyes upon him, he starts back with horror.) Merciful Heaven! And has the fondest visions of my fancy awakened to this terrible reality; a form of horror, which I scarcely dare to look upon: -- instead of the fresh colour of humanity, he wears the livid hue of the damp grave. Oh, horror! horror!
The Summit of Mount Etna -- the Crater occupies the middle of the stage -- near it is the Path-way from below -- in very distant perspective are seen the sea and towns at the foot of Etna -- the Volcano during the scene throws out torrents of fire, sparks, smoke, &c. as at the commencement of an eruption.
(The Monster ascends from below, faint from loss of blood and overcome by fatigue -- he is followed by Frankenstein, whom he immediately attacks and stabs with the dagger he had taken from his wound -- as Frankenstein falls, Emmeline rushes in shrieking and catches his lifeless body -- the Monster, attempting to escape, is met at every outlet by armed Peasantry -- in despair he rushes up to the apex of the mountain - the Soldiery rush in and fire on him -- he immediately leaps into the Crater, now vomiting burning lava, and the curtain falls.)
From the start, the stage Frankensteins mocked themselves. They are full of topical allusions and jokes, mostly probably now irretrievable. In the late Victorian version, for example, the Monster wore a hat which, by copying one worn in Gilbert and Sullivan's Patience, brought a laugh at the expense of Oscar Wilde. The story was cut, added to, transformed into pantomime or farce, combined with other stories, parodied, burlesqued, and reduced to cliche, tag, and catch phrase.
The performed versions form a continuous tradition from 1823 until the present day, slipping easily from stage to film and then to television and video. Frankenstein did not become part of popular culture with the cinema: the film industry picked it up from a culture where it was already a vigorous presence.... The Frankenstein films in both Britain and the United States are as unstable as the stage versions. Continuing the tradition of their predecessors, they laughed at themselves and chased every passing fashion.... New stage versions tended to mutate from other earlier mutations rather than directly from the original. Parodies parodies parodies, moving in any direction that the moment made promising. Refused a life in the reasonably stable culture of print and reading, Frankenstein survived in a free-floating popular oral and visual culture, with only the central episode of the scientist making the Creature holding it tenuously to the original.
The fable represents Frankenstein, a man of great science, to have succeeded in uniting the remains of dead persons, so as to form one being, which he endows with life. He has, however, little reason to exult in the triumph of his art; for the creature thus formed, hideous in aspect, and possessed of prodigious strength, spreads terror, and carries ruin wherever he goes.
As it stands, however, as a drama, it is most effective; and T.P. COOKE well pourtrays what indeed it is a proof of his extraordinary genius so well to pourtray—an unhappy being without the pale of nature—a monster—a nondescript—a horror to himself and others
Possessing this wonderful faculty in a most miraculous manner, he has produced several pieces of the lighter kind, which have been well received. A pun with him was like liquor to the sot,—"meat, drink, washing, and lodging;" but genius will play strange vagaries, so Mr. Peake, supposing supernatural horrors would flow as readily from his creative fancy as wit and humour, turned away from the laughter loving Thalia, to woo her woe-stricken sister;—but oh! the fate of "vaulting ambition," for, after all the efforts of Messrs. Treasurer, Composer,—Scene-painter, Carpenter, &c. the mis-begotten imp of their creation, "Presumption," with difficulty sustains its vitality.
T.P. COOKE well pourtrays what indeed it is a proof of his extraordinary genius so well to pourtray—an unhappy being without the pale of nature—a monster—a nondescript—a horror to himself and others;--yet the leaning, the bias, the nature, if one may so say, of the creature is good; he is in the beginning of his creation gentle, and disposed to be affectionate and kind, but his appearance terrifies even those to whom he has rendered the most essential service; the alarm he excites creates hostility; his miserable being is assailed by man; and revenge and the malignity are thus excited in his breast.
He went down in the darkness, and felt his way to the parlour, and then to the mantelpiece. The talisman was in its place, and a horrible fear that the unspoken wish might bring his mutilated son before him ere he could escape from the room seized upon him, and he caught his breath as he found that he had lost the direction of the door. His brow cold with sweat, he felt his way round the table, and groped along the wall until he found himself in the small passage with the unwholesome thing in his hand.
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