The book Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Shelley has two significant versions, published in 1818 and 1831. The latter edition contains several changes compared to the original, including alterations in the story structure and character depictions. Shelley made these changes based on the criticism of her writing that she received.
One of the most apparent differences between the two versions is the number of chapters. The later version has a longer introduction, which is split into two parts, resulting in the book being 24 chapters long. Additionally, the character of Elizabeth underwent changes. In the first edition, she was Victor Frankenstein’s cousin, which generated some controversy in literary circles. In the 1831 edition, Elizabeth became Victor’s adopted sister.
Shelley’s changes aimed to provide more background on the characters, their motivations, and their actions. As a result, the tone and themes of the story shifted. In the original version, Victor represented the dangers of vanity and ambition, and he suffered the consequences of his scientific research. However, in the revised edition, Victor became a tragic hero who faced the loss of his loved ones and the inevitability of destiny.
The modifications that Shelley made to the story structure and character depictions in the later edition transformed Frankenstein’s themes and meaning. The new version is considered the main edition of the novel, and it is the one most frequently read and studied today. The changes made to the book also highlight the evolution of Shelley’s writing style and her ability to respond to criticism and adapt her work accordingly.
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