The ability to speak is the key element which distinguishes Mary Shelley's creature from the hulking, flat-headed mute we know so well from films and costume parties, although his traditional depiction was already well-established in Shelley's lifetime by several melodramatic stage adaptations. It became an inseparable part of the novel's modern image after James Whale's 1931 film version, which depicts both the mental and moral deficiency of the creature as the result of him being given an abnormal, "criminal" brain rather than a healthy one. Always limited by an unspoken agreement to making the occasional savage, monosyllabic outburst for either sentimental or comic effect, this popular portrayal reduces Frankenstein to a simplistic moral parable at the expense of its more radical side, most of which is grounded in the almost absurdly eloquent creature's lengthy self-defence.
Online script of Richard Brinsley Peake's play 'Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein', (1823)
Online script of H.M. Milner's play 'Frankenstein; or, The Man and the Monster!', (1826)