The Sun has been ridiculed after it took aim at English literature students for actually bothering to read Mary Shelley’s seminal book Frankenstein - and for correctly interpreting its main themes.
In a now-deleted tweet, The Sun wrote: “Snowflake students claim Frankenstein’s monster was ‘misunderstood’ - and is in fact a VICTIM.
It prompted a predictable yet humorous backlash, with most pointing out that this was, in fact, the central and complex theme of the book.
Published in 1818, the story tells of a creature developed in a laboratory by Dr Victor Frankenstein. Made from the body parts of dead people, the monster, who is never given a name, is shunned by his creator and society.
The Sun was apparently outraged by the new introduction to a 200th anniversary edition of the book, which suggests “growing support” for the beast.
Professor Nick Groom of Exeter University wrote in the introduction:
“When I teach the book now, students are very sentimental towards the being. But he is a mass murderer.”
He then asked: “If he’s not human, but he is intelligent and sentient, does he have rights?”
This take on the book was a step too far for The Sun, which later issued a lengthy statement via its ALL CAPs PR man Andy Silvester, claiming it was “delighted” that the article had shed light on the classic novel:
No ‘grunting monster’
Literary experts have also weighed in. Dr Marie Mulvey-Roberts, associate professor at the University of the West of England, pointed out that The Sun’s interpretation was more likely based on the screen adaptations, rather than the original text.
She accused the paper of “diminishing the value of education”.
“One can see this as a way of trying to shut down debate and discussion... by having a knee-jerk reaction and having this very simplified black and white, polarised view of the world.
“I do feel that they (The Sun) are being disparaging towards students who look in depth at things and are dismissing them as bleeding-heart liberals who are not taking on board a lot of complex issues.
“What students are doing by taking degrees in the arts is avoiding this reductionist view of the world where things are simply one thing or the other, so I think politically it is dangerous because it is kind of diminishing the value of education.
“As a professor of English literature it is saying we don’t need to read the book in order to make a judgement about it.
“If they had read the novel, they’d realise that this creature was a highly self-educated and articulate being who expresses empathy, compassion and is a sort of advocate of human rights.”