Classic Scene: The Monster and the Hermit

The Monster and the hermit

Bride of Frankenstein (1935)

directed by James Whale

The Scene: After fleeing the abuse and intolerance of society, Frankenstein’s creation (Boris Karloff) finds a cabin in the forest and from within it comes a beautiful music which he has never heard before. The music is played by an old hermit (O.P. Heggie) with a violin, and though he knows someone is lurking around his visual handicap prevents him from seeing who it is. When the monster finally walks in, he finds for the first time that a human shows him kindness and welcomes him into his home. Though he is limited by his lack of vocabulary, the creation’s grunts and facial expression radiates a child-like joy. Though he does not have much, the hermit is gladly willing to share with his new companion. As he prepares a bowl of soup, for the creation he praises God who has brought a cure for his loneliness. He can not see and the monster can not speak and together they can provide a comfort to one another and the next day the hermit sets out to mentor the monster.

The Breakdown: While Mel Brooks may have ruined the chance for many to take this moment seriously, Frankenstein’s creation meeting a blind hermit in the wilderness is one of the most powerful and heartfelt moments in horror history. These are two lost souls who have found each other and it creates a spark of hope. This moment was a necessary moment in the growth, in the original Mary Shelley novel, one of the books the monster is exposed to is the Bible which gives him a certain spiritual nourishment. In the Bride of Frankenstein it is a devout hermit who fills this role for the character. We see he is willing to commit to the physical and spiritual healing Dr. Frankenstein’s creation was in need of. Whale even had the lighting come from above which in a way transforms a cabin in the woods into a church. The monster in this moment sees for the first time that there is some goodness in humanity no matter how rare it may be. In the original Frankenstein, Dr. Frankenstein maliciously commanded his creation to sit down in a memorable scene, but in this moment the hermit gave him the same request but with a warmth his maker did not have.

Best Bit: As the scene fades out and the lights grow dim, the last bit of light lingers on the crucifix on the wall giving a certain comfort that the creation has now found sanctuary at least for a while.