Monday, January 25, 2010

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

By the time I had reached the end of the novel Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, I had already long ago gotten an understanding of the general feel of the novel. That feeling, of course, was the ridiculous and over-the-top, laugh-out-loud goofiness of Seth Grahame-Smith's additions to Jane Austen's novel. The addition of zombies, ninjas, and nonsensically epic battles are all so silly that enjoyment, for me, came almost solely from picking out Grahame-Smith's goofy additions. Once I closed the book, however, I couldn't help but think that any story from the “zombie” genre is just as silly.

My sister recently made it a point to watch as many zombie films as she could get her hands on, and when I went home for winter break I joined her to watch several of these movies as she rented them. Although often hidden behind a veil of serious plot, the fact remained that all of these films were kind of silly. Zombie stories do, after all, provide a platform for some of the goriest horror films of all time. Even a parody of this genre we watched was, like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, excessively gory and packed with violence.

I don't believe that this ridiculousness is a secret of the genre, of course. I've heard very few responses to most zombie films' stories, but plenty to their violence and horror. I think that this excessive gore and ridiculous brutality is exactly what we, as viewers, look for in a film or story in the zombie genre. At least, that's what I expect from them. Of course, if we look deeper, we may recognize the unsettling idea of the inescapable doom of a zombie apocalypse or the horror of seeing loved ones turned undead and against one another as the real reason the zombie genre is so popular. The fact still remains, however, that the crazy over-the-top violent mess of a zombie film is always fun to watch.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies was clearly intended to a comedic read. However, in the same way that Grahame-Smith made very little change to the overall writing of the original Pride and Prejudice, it also had very little to change from the basic recipe for zombie horror to become just silly.

Saturday, January 16, 2010


I am slightly ashamed to say that, before reading the novel, I have had next to no experience with Frankenstein; beyond having a general understanding of the "mythology" of it, I knew nothing about the story. So for the most part, I was able to be introduced to the story and form relationships with the characters without much pre-existing bias.

Most notably, I found myself constantly sympathizing with Frankenstein himself. Obviously, he is a character with his own issues that, in the end, create problems for everyone else in the story. He is young, big-headed, self-absorbed, and the reason that everything ends up going wrong in the novel. And yet I can't help but think that his flaws are the reason I was so interested by him. After all, I am, and spend time with, naive college students. I feel like the mistakes he makes are all too believable; he gets overconfident in his abilities and suddenly finds himself the father to an unwanted child. His solution, to turn away and pretend it never happened, seems entirely realistic.

Obviously, Frankenstein is not a likable character. He abandons his creation and ignores it's existence. When the monster comes to him Frankenstein reacts with anger rather than ever making an attempt to accept his mistake. His selfishness and the pride that prevents him from accepting the monster eventually lead to the death of everyone he cares for. Even as his family and friends are killed, he is not driven by guilt to tell about the monster, but instead wallows in his own misery. He is a weak character, and I loved to read about him.

Whether it was the believability of this character's flaws, or just my happiness to watch him reap the rewards of his weakness, I enjoyed reading his story. I liked to watch Frankenstein's life become increasingly horrible due to his mistakes, and when he finally died at the end of the novel, I was satisfied that it was the closest thing to a happy ending that he could achieve.