I Wonder What Mary Shelley Would Think of the “Monster Mash”

ENGL 4110 “Commonplace Book” Entry 1

I am a terrible English major. Because somehow, I made it through 12 years of public school and three years of undergrad without ever encountering, studying, or reading Frankenstein.

And don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say I wasn’t aware of the concept. I knew enough to understand the “Frankenstein vs Frankentein’s monster” debate. I saw the Halloween costumes and the Pinterest-inspired holiday cupcakes, and perhaps most importantly, I heard the song that afflicts party playlists every October, “Monster Mash.”

But until enrolling in a speculative fiction literature course, I never actually read it.

Picking up Mary Shelley’s infamous novel and beginning to read, I grew more confused with the content. This story of British explorers, lost travelers, and glaciers didn’t fit my idea of Frankenstein’s monster. Reading more, neither did Victor’s journey in college or his creation of a monster that went on to immediately have an existential crisis (valid). I came to realize that my idea of the monster was extremely superficial, and probably way too dependent on the “Monster Mash” lyrics.

I was working in the lab, late one night
When my eyes beheld an eerie sight
For my monster from his slab, began to rise
And suddenly to my surprise
He did the monster mash
(The monster mash) It was a graveyard smash
(He did the mash) It caught on in a flash
(He did the mash) He did the monster mash

Unfortunately, Shelley passed away in 1851 and therefore never got the chance to hear “Monster Mash,” which came out in 1962. But reading her story after thinking of Frankenstein as nothing more than some green, clumsy monster made me wonder if she ever foresaw her monster’s pop culture fate.

Maybe she would laugh. After all, the novel was a result of a spooky story writing contest, so maybe she would think that its relevance was fun regardless of its misinterpretation. Or, maybe she would be offended at the story’s modern ‘flatness.’

Either way, in my opinion, it’s a shame that Mary Shelley never lived to hear “Monster Mash.”



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