Was Frankenstein Jewish?

I saw the 1921 film The Golem for the first time recently, and noticed a similarity in the Golem and James Whale’s monster in the classic Frankenstein a decade later.

Then I thought about the similarity in the story line: In the Golem legend, a rabbi breathes life into an unliving hunk of clay. In Ms Shelley’s story, a “scientist” (with a name that at first glance “appears” to be Jewish) breathes life into an unliving hodgepodge of body parts.

So, the questions: Do we think Whale was influenced much by “The Golem?” Do we think Mary Shelly was inspired by the legend of The Golem?

I read once (somewhere) that Ms Shelly came up with the name “Frankenstein” because of Benjamin Franklin, who had been known to be an all-around smart guy.

I also saw an interview with (someone in the know) that the reasons for the excessive height on The Monster’s head and the big clunky shoes were that The Monster was supposed to be huge, but Boris Karloff was only average-sized, so those things were added to enhance his height.

The Golem is an ages-old Jewish legend, which may or may not have inspired Mary Shelley.

“Frankenstein” would just be considered a “Jewish name” in recent U.S. history, as so many Eastern European Jews with similar-sounding names came here within the past 150 years or so—it would not have sounded Jewish to early 19th-century Brits.

It’s been a long time since I read the book—but I seem to remember that Mary Shelley’s “monster” was actually quite good-looking . . .

And does this mean “Frankenberry” is Irish?

After consulting The Frankenstein Omnibus, I can say
that there is no actual evidence Shelley based her book on the legend of the Golem. She always claimed that inspiration came to her while she was tripping on laudanum.
It’s likely that she read the legend while doing research, but there are no notes.

  Second, Shelley's creature was highly inteligent. He spoke French, German and Latin. He was not good looking by any stretch of the imagination. He had: "watery eyes", his skin was a dessicated-yellow and was stretched too tight over his frame. Bernie Wrightson did a series of illustrations that were accurate.

  As for the doctor's religion, it seems unlikely that he was Jewish. To begin with, he violates religious law by desecrating corpses. He also marries a girl who is essentially an adopted sister. This also violates Jewish law. Lastly, the description of William's funeral does not fit that of a traditional Jewish ceremony.

This is not correct. (Adoptions have no bearing on religious law).

As far as I can remember Shelley’s character was Swiss, and
since there are many instances of characters being referred to or addressed as “M(onsieur) X”, I’m forced to conclude
that he was French speaking also.

FWIW, in the first (1818) edition of Frankenstein, Victor marries his first cousin. Mary Shelley changed her to an unrelated adopted sister in a later edition.

No, he was ugly, but the good doctor had attempted to make him good-looking. The monster had long black hair (like a Romantic poet I guess) and, if memory serves, good teeth. Unfortunately this couldn’t hide the fact that he was made of dead skin.

I got the Wrightson-illustrated version of Frankenstein.

I can recommend it to all the SD Posters.
I only wish it was a hard-cover, bound in leather. (I got the trade paperback edition.)

In 1814 the Shelleys traveled through Germany. According to this page and a Discovery Channel program, it’s plausible the Shelleys visited the Burgstasse region on a boat trip and saw the real Castle Frankenstein. If they did, they might have heard about an alchemist named Dipple. He was born at the castle, the child of servants, I believe. As an adult he lived at the castle and was rumored to be experimenting with body parts.

I remember the story about the real Castle Frankenstein and Konrad Dipple from Radu Florescu’s book, “In Search of Frankenstein” (1975?). The castle stands on a hill outside Darmstadt, IIRC.

My family was stationed in Darmstadt from 1976-79, and visited the castle frequently. Little was left of it; the passage of time and Allied war bombings took their toll. I think some restoration has since been done. What I do remember is that a kick-ass Halloween pageant used to be held there every year.

I seem to remember reading that Shelley came up with Frankenstein during a weekend getaway with her friends, a ghost story told around the campfire. Only later did she write the whole thing and publish it into a novel.

Personally, I’ve been a fan of some of her other stuff. Anyone here ever read the “Masque of Anarchy”?

To find out more about the writing of “Frankenstein” and Mary Shelley tripping out with her buddies, check out the movie “Haunted Summer.” It has Bill S. Preston, Esq. in it!!!

Yes, Dr. Victor Frankenstein was from Geneva, which is in the french-speaking part of Switzerland.

Was the monster Jewish? I dunno; did the Doc sew ALL the parts back on or not?

The movie Gothic is also based upon Mary Shelley’s trippy escapades.

Well, thank god she went the the castle name.

I can’t imagine a Hollywood Horror Dynasty built on the name “Dipple.”

DIPPLE (1931)


I recall reading somewhere (Brian Aldiss?) that Mary Shelley had in fact read a book of Jewish folklore including one or more golem stories shortly before writing Frankenstein. But I have no proof of this.

Regarding the OP, however:

“Was Frankenstein Jewish?”

–Yes, in part(s). :smiley:

Polycarp, it pains me to see you commit the common error made when discussing Mary Shelley’s novel.

The joke should go “Was Frankenstein’s monster Jewish”?

Uke, you overlooked a very important offering from that ouvre: