It is hard to believe that “The Curse of Frankenstein” is based on Mary Shelly’s novel, since they differ in numerous ways. The most important change happens at the beginning of the movie. It begins with the flashback to Victor Frankenstein’s life, and one of the first things he says is that his father died when he was only ten years old; that he is the last of the Frankenstein family. He has no brothers, no Elizabeth (until later, and in a different manner), and no parents. The absence of family has a major effect on his morals. In the novel, Frankenstein’s family and friends keep him happy and at least a little bit grounded, but also drives him crazy. Without them, he can more easily focus on his passions and be uncaring about the consequences of his research.
At the beginning of Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein”, when Victor tells of his childhood, he speaks of two things: his family and his love of science. On science, “Curiosity, earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature, gladness akin to rapture, as they were unfolded to me, are among the earliest sensations I can remember” (Shelly 28). This shows his passion for science started early and intensely. On the other hand, he spends most of these introductory chapters talking about his family, Clerval, and their interests. He speaks extremely fondly of his childhood, “No human could have passed a happier childhood than myself” (Shelly 28). Throughout the novel, he always finds comfort when he is surrounded by one of his family, such as when Clerval joins him at Ingolstadt or when he retires home during and after Justine’s trial. When with Clerval, Frankenstein’s depressed mood and hysteria are temporarily lifted. In addition, his thoughts of marrying Elizabeth comfort him and will him to continue with whatever his engagements, “For myself, there was one reward I promised myself for my detested toils – one consolation for my unparalleled sufferings; it was the prospect of that day when, enfranchised from my miserable slavery, I might claim Elizabeth, and forget the past in my union with her” (Shelly 173). Frankenstein’s family keeps his scientific passions and emotions in check.
While pursuing his passions, Frankenstein returns back to thoughts of his family. Their support and general existence make Victor think of the consequences of his actions. Frankenstein would have never kept or even created the monster in his home for fear of the effects on his family. In “The Curse of Frankenstein”, Krempe warns of the possible evil of the monster, but Victor perseveres because his studies are more important than anything else. In Mary Shelly’s novel, Frankenstein’s family is his top priority, and he would never dream of putting them in danger. The threat to his family is part of the reason that Frankenstein is driven mad by the monster. He is worried about what his monster is capable of after its creation, but only becomes engulfed by his emotions towards it after it kills his brother William. Upon his discovery that the monster was the murderer, he thinks, “I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind, and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror, such as the deed which he had now done,…, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me” (Shelly 77). This is only the start of the guilt and terror that Frankenstein feels about his monster. Because of the threat to his family, the creation on the monster drives Victor mad. Without a family to worry about, the evil of the monster can run rampant without having any negative effects on the scientist.
Victor Frankenstein’s family has both a positive and negative impact on his life. Their presence creates joy and some distraction from the turmoil that is his mind, but the idea of them also adds to his worries. In the movie, and therefore in the absence of family, Victor focuses only on his studies and creates something even worse. He does not care the effects that the monster will have on anyone, since he has no one he cares about more than himself and his studies. Frankenstein’s family makes him a more emotional and caring character.