When listening to Gene Autry sing the classic 1950 Christmas song, the last thing on your mind is the psychological horror and ethical questions posed by Mary Shelley. But though their stories are separated by 131 years, their characters and basic plots follow the same beats.
Don’t believe me?
Let’s take a look at the evidence.
1. Both Creators Regret Their Creations
As a children’s cartoon, Frosty’s creator, the magician Hinkle, is the bad guy. Hounding after his accidental progeny, Hinkle’s attempts to reclaim his hat would have the side effect of putting the “abomination” down.
Mary Shelley leaves Frankenstein more ambiguous. Whether the scientist or the creature is the villain is left up to the reader. Regardless, Frankenstein spends a majority of the book bent on his creation’s destruction.
2. Both “Monsters” Are Created Through Artificial Means
As Arthur C. Clarke once said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”
One is a magical hat bringing together an amalgamation of snow, a corncob pipe, and a button nose, and two eyes made out of coal. The other is cobbled together from the pieces of many corpses and animated via electricity.
Six of one, a half-dozen of the other.
3. Despite Appearances, Both Try to Be Good People
Frosty loves kids and wants to make them happy through games and play. When Karen (pictured above, left) becomes too cold to move while helping him get home, Frosty is willing to sacrifice himself to take her into a greenhouse for warmth.
Frankenstein’s monster, on the other hand, lives in the barn of a poor peasant family while learning what it means to be alive. He secretly helps them through hard times, tending the farm or making conversation with the blind, old grandfather.
4. Adults Fear What They Don’t Understand
Since Frosty is a children’s show, the snowman receives a fairly tame shakedown, causing fear and agitation in the town’s traffic cop.
However, the creature from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is shunned by his farmer family once they learn what he looks like, and he experiences outward fear and revulsion from most every human he comes in contact with.
5. Both of Them Wish for a Mate
Being the only one of your kind is a lonely business. In the 1976 sequel to Frosty the Snowman, Crystal is created by the children to be a wife for Frosty and keep him company. Sweet, but creepy when you start to think about things like free will.
Frankenstein promises his creature a mate but then cannot bear the thought of these abominations procreating — and destroys the female before she is finished. In the end, the creature kills Frankenstein’s own newly minted wife in an attempt to force the scientist’s hand.
6. Both Wonder What It Means to Be Alive
Frosty bumbled through his first day of life, assisted by the children who created him. His trademark phrase, “Happy birthday!” is meant to be an easy way to remember this creature has no concept of human social norms.
Mary Shelley’s creature contemplates whether he has a soul, is alive, and what his purpose on this earth is. He teaches himself to speak and read, all while observing human behavior from the safety of the barn and aping what he sees in an attempt to become human.
7. Both Live to Return Another Day
In the end, Frosty makes it to the North Pole, where he will never melt. The song and show end with the words “I’ll be back again someday.” When aimed at children, those words are uplifting.
When aimed at Frankenstein and all those whom he loves, they are a threat.
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