My first year of college, I took a course titled, “The Fantastic in Literature” not realizing what fantastic contextually meant. I thought great; fantastic reads, thinking John Irving, David Sedaris, Mona Simpson. Sounds brilliant. Smart. Giddyup. The course, of course, was not fantasticterrific, but comprised of stories with ghosts, spirits, and a host of make believe. Pixie dust. Okay, I’ll concede to science fiction, and you all know by now, I’m not a science fiction girl. I mean, I might like strategy games, but I’m definitely not into deadly moon fungus from lunar ice caves. The class focused on fantastic representations of the body, from the ornate and corpulent to the laconic and anorexic.
When I wrote a paper titled Trenchcoat Weather, I focused on fact rather than the fantastic found in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. When you’ve nothing nice to say (even about a book), you restrict your remarks to the weather. And so I did.
Most of us think of Frankenstein and think green pallor and bolts, stiff arms of a sleepwalker, a spooky wedding of sorts. Maybe for a second, Gene Wilder. So when I read the book, and learned Frankenstein was a doctor, well, you might as well tell me Dracula isn’t a vampire.
In my essay, I contend Dr. Frankenstein’s perception of the natural elements in the novel, is at its essence a creative one, for he manages to steer these conceptions around himself; Frankenstein believes that the elements are there to reflect his emotions.
This noble war in the sky elevated my spirits; I clasped my hands and exclaimed aloud, “William, dear angel! This is thy funeral, this thy dirge!” As I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which stole from behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed, gazing intently; I could not be mistaken (Mary Shelley).
Dr. Frankenstein assumes the natural elements react to the particulars of his every day life. He even goes as far as to declare aloud, while looking up to the heavens, that his brother’s funeral is taking place through the natural elements’ participation in a “noble war.” Well you know what? I’m right there with the guy. Maybe it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy, but some days, I believe the weather is what is to commiserate with me.
I don’t follow the weather, watch it on the ones, or even open my window when choosing my wardrobe, so I’m usually inappropriately dressed. Toting a camera in the rain, heels in the snow, a ski jacket on an unusually warm one. Best is when it’s freezing out, but the apartment heat is unbearable. Enter the miniskirt in sleet scenario. The sun wrinkles me; the clouds take a piss on my head. But like my feelings, thankfully, the weather is temperamental.