‘The Human Senses Are Insurmountable Barriers’: Deformity, Sympathy, and Monster Love in Three Variations on Frankenstein

  • Bruce Wyse
Part of the Studies in Global Science Fiction book series (SGSF)


Shelley’s creature craves sympathy, but sympathy is precluded by his ‘appalling hideousness.’ Recognising the monster as an emblem of the deformed who ‘have so strong a claim on the sympathy of the world, yet find little else but disgust,’ Edward Bulwer-Lytton’s ‘A Manuscript Found in a Madhouse,’ Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein, and ‘The Crimson Horror’ episode of the rebooted Dr. Who variously revisit the ‘insurmountable barriers’ to sympathy that bedevil the creature. In response to Frankenstein’s deficient and abortive sympathy for his creature, ‘A Manuscript’ and ‘The Crimson Horror’ imagine their genius protagonists directly experiencing the creature’s misfortunes, while in Young Frankenstein, creator and creature exchange traits in an ultimate rectification. The three (tragic, comic, and tragicomic) narrative iterations also find vehicles for Shelley's love- or compassion-denied creature in companions indifferent to appearance.

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce Wyse
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of English and Film StudiesWilfrid Laurier UniversityWaterlooCanada

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