The Appropriation of Innocence: from Shelley’s Frankenstein to Ahmed Saadawi’s Frankenstein in Baghdad

Author: Karzan

Keywords: Ahmed Saadawi, Baghdad, Frankenstein in Baghdad, innocence, Shelley, Victor Frankenstein


This paper demonstrates the appropriation of innocence in Shelley’s Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus (1818) and Frankenstein in Baghdad (2013) by Ahmed Saadawi. These novels are selected because the latter appropriates the creator and creature characters and contextualizes them into the American-Iraq 2005 post-war period. In Shelley’s Frankenstein, Victor Frankenstein, scientifically, gives life to a dead body amalgamated from other body parts, which start murdering and revenging upon his creator. Whereas, in Saadawi’s twenty-first century Frankenstein, a person who is formed from others’ dead bodies by merely a junk dealer, starts murdering and revenging upon other people. On the one hand, Frankenstein, a science student, sought to answer the question of human revival theoretically and practically. Therefore, after he resurrects the dead, it becomes monstrous due to its negligence and physical hideousness by its creator. On the other hand, the Iraqi Frankenstein’s creator, Hadi, celebrates collecting old materials in a non-scientific manner, including humans’ dead body parts, in order to give value to them by offering them worthy of proper burials. The resurrected creatures transform into more powerful beings than their creators as reactions against isolation and injustice. For that, both Frankenstein and Hadi lose control over their creations, who instigate new life cycles. Hence, the ethical responsibility of invention underlies the concept of innocence which this paper intends to analyze vis-à-vis the creators and their creations.