The Monster in the Mirror: Mary Shelley+s Life as Revealed by Frankenstein One cannot begin to understand the full implications of this work without first knowing something of the author and the incessant tragedies which haunted her with bouts of chronic loneliness throughout her entire life; the effects of which provided the major themes for this novel. Mary Shelley was born on August 30, 1797, in London, England to two literary giants, father, William Godwin and mother, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Mr. Godwin was blasphemized for his articles on atheism and for expressing opinions that were against the institution of marra ige. Mary Wollstonecraft was also a radical liberal and the author of the renowned essays |Vindication of the Rights of ManX and |A Vindication of the Rights of Women. Mrs.
Godwin died ten days after the birth of Mary from labor complications. In later years, the surviving Mary would visit her mother+s grave on frequent occasions to read her novels and her namesake+s essays and also to make love to her future husband, Percy Bys she Shelley, like the true gothic that she was. The death of her mother was to mark the beginning of a long life of bereavement for Shelley. By the age of 24 she was to have lost her half sister and best friend, Fanny Imlay, four of five children, her beloved husband of eight years, and her dear comrade Lord Byron. The latter two both drowned in isolated boating accidents. Six months after the death of his wife, William Godwin would begin proposals to numerous women in an effort to find a maternal figure to help raise Wollstonecraft+s three year old illegitimate daughter, Fanny Imlay and the newborn Mary.
... such as Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Women and Godwin's Enquiry Concerning the Nature of Political Justice. Mary Shelley's mother died from ... was actually a biographical history. Mary Shelley studied Plutarch's Lives in 1815 (Feldman, 91) the year prior to beginning Frankenstein. ... in the family. During their first two and half years together their first child was born prematurely and ...
He felt himself an inadequate father and exclaimed to Coleridge: When Fanny interrupts my reading with a request to hold her on my knee and tell her a fanciful tale, I confess I must curb my temper and when the wild crie of baby Mary fill the house, threatening to shatter the glass in windows, I succumb to unreasoning panic (Neuman 6).
As a last resort he married, three years later, Mary Jane Clairmont who turned out to be quite a tyrant in the Godwin household and favored her own two children, Charles and Claire, over Mary and Fanny. She took complete control and made every financial decision but William Godwin must take responsibility for allowing this domestic dictatorship to continue. Mary Jane was not affectionate to any but her own children and turned her unnatural children into the |household drudges (Neuman 8).
X At this point Mary began retreating to her mother+s grave for solace and by eight years old she is described by writer Eileen Bigland as being |a solitary and withdrawn child (Bigland 27).
X At age sixteen Mary became acquainted with her father+s friend Percy Shelley, a poet and admirer of Godwin+s work. Though Shelley was already married and the father of one child, Mary and he began a passionate affair that was to ultimately result in the suicide of his impregnated and deserted wife, Harriet Shelley, the disowning of Mary by Godwin upon her outright refusal to abandon her relationship with Percy, and this decision led also to the illegitimate couple+s being ostracized from the strict moral based English society at home and in the colonies abroad in Switzerland and North America. Their scandalous affair and the resulting tragedy of Percy+s former wife+s self-annihilation would haunt the Shelleys and blacken their reputation for the rest of their lives and even beyond their graves. It was a lonely life for Mary, who found it hard to make friends with her amoral characterization by gossip mongers of which there never was a shortage in her native society. She had no mother to console her through hard times and an indifferent father in her formative years and so she probably turned to writing not only because of the family expectations imposed upon her by her literary heritage but also as a form of therapy. Mary began writing Frankenstein, her first novel, at age nineteen.
... 1). Along with the absence of her mother in life, Mary Shelleys father, William Godwin, went on to write Memoirs of the Rights of ... live (1). Before their marriage in 1816, Mary and Percy had two illegitimate children while living together (1). Due to their ... outrageous actions of the time and unacceptable behavior Percy and Mary were ...
What began as a short story was published as a novel in 1818. The idea for Frankenstein came about one stormy, November, night as the author and her husband, among a few others, visited Lord Byron at his house in Villa Dio dati, located on Lake Geneva in Switzerland. They were all confined indoors for several days by the severe weather conditions and so for entertainment someone suggested they scare eachother by relating ghost stories. Mary at first could not think of one but after a long night of writer+s block she retired to bed and had a horrific dream and thus Frankenstein was originated not as as well drafted novel but as a short story with dynamics arising from an adolescent subconscious.
Perhaps the fact that this mother of the gothic and science-fiction novel was not entirely premeditated is what makes it so difficult to interpret. There are many different approaches to analyzing this text but it is safest to relate the material in terms of Mary Shelley+s life experiences as the situations and themes in her novels are extremely true to the circumstances in her life. As critic Elizabeth Nitchie points out: Not gifted in invention, [Mary Shelley] turned to actuality for character and incident… The realities of her existence furnish recurrent themes; loneliness, bereavement, the father-daughter relationship which parallels her own to Godwin+s.
Her writing is highly autobiographical and self revealing. (Nitchie, p. xiii-xiv) It is not obviously self revealing though, Mary employs the elements of literature to tell her life story. The novel opens with Walton assuring his sister that |no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings (Shelley p.
X This tone gives the reader a sense of his perilous undertaking. Similar to Frankenstein+s goal of rendering man immune to anything but a violent end, Walton explains that he too is enticed to |conquer all fear of danger or death (Shelley 7).
X Walton thinks that by finding a passage near the pole to reach nearby countries at a faster pace than is possible in his fictional present; that he will benefit mankind in some way.
... Branagh's 1997 film, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, he makes it very evident. Unlike Whale, Branagh decides to keep Walton in the movie. ... make them any different from Victor Frankenstein? In the book titled Frankenstein's Footsteps, author Jon Turney stresses that from its ... Culture In 1818, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was published and since then, it has become a tale that lives on in everybody. ...
He seeks glory in the discovery and domination of new territory. Mary Shelley was a pioneer in her own right because she was one of the few female authors to become a literary success in her day. She was a woman competing in a man+s domain. Frankenstein was published anonymously and though the public recognized the author as a Godwin ian pupil and some critics guessed the novel might be the work of Percy Shelley; nearly everyone assumed the author was male. For example, nineteenth century critic John Croker+s response to Frankenstein was this: The author has powers both of conception and language, which employed in a happier direction might, perhaps give him a name among those whose writings amuse or amend their fellow creatures but we take the liberty of assuring him and hope that he may be in a temper to listen to us that the style which he has adopted in the present publications merely tends to defeat his own purpose… (Hunter 190) (bold type mine) Perhaps Mary felt an affinity with Walton in his exploration of the arctic and Frankenstein with his discoveries of the secrets of the origin of life as they all three boldly went where no man, or woman in Shelley+s case, had gone before.
In the same way her fictional creations sought glory as pioneers in the fields of natural science and alchemy, Mary Shelley looked for renown as a female author among a society where only male writers were respected as having literary talent. How lonely all three must have felt to be on top of the world but without anyone to share their success with or else comfort them in thier failed ambitions. These sentiments are expressed by Walton as he exclaims to Margaret: XI have one want which I have never yet been able to satisfy and the absence of the object of which I feel as a most severe evil. I have no friend when I am glowing with the enthusiasm of success, thee willie none to participate my joy; if I am assailed by disappointment, no one will endeavour to sustain me in dejection (Shelley 10).
| This loneliness is further emphasized by the various geographic settings of Frankenstein; which are frequently desolate and occupied by only one or two characters at a time. The scenes convey a sense of isolation and danger brought about by the reverential power of the natural elements which dominate the territories unexplored and untamed by humankind.
... Life of Mary Shelley / Characteristics of Gothic Literature A. Life of Mary Shelley 1. Eleven days after Mary Shelley's birth, her mother, the famed author ... occupation...." a. In this quote, Frankenstein describes the setting of his work. The setting is described as resembling that ... of a mad scientist's laboratory. Frankenstein also lightly touches ...
Within the literary fabric of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley chronicles the reactions she had to the traumatic episodes of her life. She weaves her autobiography under the guise of symbolism; employed in the novel+s elements of setting, tone, theme, plot and characterization. setting: Frankenstein |fell from the height of his pride (where he defied the gods by creating life) to the state of a desperate man cut off from those he loved, doomed to insanity and death (Neuman 120).
X In the same spirit, the adolescent Mary Shelley boldly defied patriarchal authority by entering into an unconventional relationship and impulsively eloping with Percy Shelley, who already had a wife and child. Like Frankenstein, she committed an obscene act which estranged her from her family and her native English fellows and consequently she led a lonely life… The various geographic settings of Frankenstein are frequently desolate and occupied by only one or two characters, the scenes convey a sense of isolation and danger brought about by the reverential power of the natural elements which dominate the territories unexplored and untamed by humankind..