Characters Discussed

(Great Characters in Literature)

Joseph (Joe) Bodenland

Joseph (Joe) Bodenland, a liberal presidential adviser deposed by right-wing extremists. He is transported by a timeslip from the twenty-first to the early nineteenth century. He is a grandfather but becomes young again when the timeslip takes him back to 1816. He finds himself at Lake Geneva, near the Villa Diodati, where he meets Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Shelley’s mistress, Mary, who is in the process of writing the novel Frankenstein. Attracted to Mary, he has a brief affair with her. Having come from the future, Bodenland can foretell the ecological damage that will be wrought by technology run amok, by the conquest of nature symbolized by Frankenstein’s experiments. Consequently, he kills Frankenstein and destroys both Frankenstein’s monster and his mate.

Victor Frankenstein

Victor Frankenstein, a Swiss scientist. Unlike the Frankenstein of Mary Shelley’s novel, who is an idealistic man of sensibility, this Frankenstein is a cynical, abrasive, and bitterly proud individual. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein destroys the monster’s mate on which he is working, lest he create a race of monsters, and then pursues the male monster after it murders his bride, Elizabeth. In this novel, unlike Shelley’s, Victor does not marry Elizabeth, nor is she killed. He completes the monster’s mate and brings her to life. When he then proposes creating a third monster to fight the first two, Bodenland kills him.

Mary Wollstonecraft...

(The entire section is 628 words.)

The Characters

(Critical Guide to British Fiction)

Except for Joe Bodenland and a few minor characters, the characters in Frankenstein Unbound come either from Frankenstein or from actual history. Aldiss’ portrayals of Byron and Shelley correspond to the image one has of them from their life and works. A novelist takes a certain risk in re-creating great writers and inventing dialogue for them; the danger is that the fictional portrait will fall flat and the dialogue be far beneath the writers’ own style. Yet Aldiss succeeds brilliantly in making Byron and Shelley seem authentic; he endows the former with sardonic wit and the latter with eloquent idealism and nervous mannerisms. As for Mary, she is described as “fair and birdlike, with brilliant eyes and a small wistful mouth” and an irresistible laugh. Joe Bodenland finds in her a warm, generous affection, and in making them lovers, Aldiss may be indulging in a vicarious love affair with the founder of science fiction.

Aldiss takes liberties with the characters of Frankenstein, however, since he places them in an alternate world where they can assume a life of their own. Thus, Victor Frankenstein and his associates are far less sympathetic than in the original. In Frankenstein Unbound, Victor is less the noble hero of sensibility stricken with remorse for the horrors he has brought to his friends and family and is far more a morose, sullen individual, alternately wallowing in self-pity and subject to fits of...

(The entire section is 552 words.)