By Mia Nuttall
Mary Shelley was only 20 when ‘Frankenstein’ was first published, but her novel was revolutionary. It is a chilling masterpiece, merging a tragic romance with science-fiction to create a cautionary tale which has haunted mankind for generations, and is still inspiring Halloween costumes more than 200 years later. Here’s my list of songs that convey the themes and messages of the story of one of the most iconic monsters of all time.
Paper Crown – Liam Gallagher
This song reflects the immense regret Frankenstein burdens after his creation, as he realises he has no control over his monster and starts to face the inevitable consequences. The lyrics “you went too far” and “now you’re feeling the fear” explicitly show this. The metaphor of the “wolf” throughout the song mirrors Frankenstein’s paranoia that his monster is always following him, waiting to take his next victim. Furthermore, the notion of the “paper crown” links to how Frankenstein attempts (and fails) to harness the power of life: the power he possesses is very fragile, and before long he’s left “look[ing] down at the ashes of [his] paper crown.”
Mine – The 1975
This mellow jazz song is a representation of the harmonious period of Frankenstein’s life, before he makes his scientific breakthrough. Since his childhood, Frankenstein valued Elizabeth more than anything and even as a young boy, knew that she was to be his future wife. The line “I’m fine if you are fine” relates to how his world practically revolved around her, and he considers it his duty to bring her happiness. Of course, the mood of this part of the novel greatly contrasts with later chapters, as Shelley highlights how far Frankenstein falls.
Unloveable and How Soon Is Now? – The Smiths
These two classics by The Smiths are essential, as they reflect the key character development of Frankenstein’s monster. We cannot help but sympathise for the monster as he reveals his low self-esteem regarding his appearance, feeling “unloveable”. He accepts his differences (“If I seem a little strange, that’s because I am”), but after watching normal people living their lives, he longs for a partner and to experience love. The second song relates to his impatience for this, as well as his jealously – “I am human and I need to be loved, just like everybody else does.”
Stormy Weather – Pixies
Throughout the novel, Shelley emphasises the theme of nature versus mankind. This is a direct link to nature’s wrath in response to Frankenstein’s breach of the natural world by his creation of life. This song provides the perfect accompaniment to the torrential rain, lightning bolts, towering mountains, ferocious winds and even an avalanche which ensues in the novel. This pathetic fallacy can be seen as a punishment: an ominous fate Frankenstein cannot escape from.
Intermission – Blur
The musical progression of this Blur song parallels the chaotic plot of the novel. Starting with a simple piano ostinato, it mimics Frankenstein’s original innocent idea which was purely motivated by a desire to revolutionise science. As his control slowly unravels, the monster starts to rebel against his “master” and the two become enemies, both seeking vengeance against the other. This inevitably leads to many unfortunate events and ultimately disaster, much like the discordant end of the song.
Exit Music (For A Film) – Radiohead
Radiohead can of course empathise with Frankenstein’s monster, who considers himself a “Creep”, but in my opinion, the song “Exit Music” is more emblematic. Whilst the backing track creates an ominous mood to reflect the outcome of the situation, it is lyrically relevant too. The “spineless laugh” links to how Frankenstein is taunted by his own creation and devolves from the master to the victim. The strong sense of vengeance in the song can be applied to both main characters as they become enemies and develop feelings of hatred towards each other. Furthermore, the song interweaves the theme of wanting to escape: Frankenstein longs to escape from the overbearing guilt he feels, while his monster wants to escape from a world where he is unappreciated and an outsider. Radiohead provides the perfect conclusion to this playlist, giving the melancholy and eerie tone that matches the end of the novel.
Illustration: Hayleigh McLean