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Frankenstein Contextual Background Study and Intertextual links

Frankenstein, Or the Modern Prometheus was published in
England in 1818
1. Settings
Waltons letters are sent from northern Russia, close to and within the
extreme weather of the Arctic Circle. He mentions St Petersburgh and
then Archangel before launching into the unknown.
Victor comes from Switzerland in Europe and travels to Northern Scotland
and the Arctic.

2. iterary In!luences
and Intertextual
#. $ercy Shelley%s &#sia%"
Fro' &$ro'etheus
M soul is an enchanted boat!
Which! like a sleeping swan! doth float
"pon the silver waves of th sweet singing#
And thine doth like an angel sit
$eside a helm conducting it!
Whilst all the winds with melod are ringing.
%t seems to float ever! for ever! &.
"pon that man'winding river!
$etween mountains! woods! absses!
A paradise of wildernesses(
)ill! like one in slumber bound!
$orne to the ocean! % float down! around!
%nto a sea profound! of ever'spreading sound* Wikipedia
Prometheus Unbound is a four-act play by Percy Bysshe Shelley first published in
1820, concerned with the torments of the reek mytholo!ical fi!ure Prometheus and
his sufferin! at the hands of "eus# $t is inspired by %eschylus&s Prometheus Bound and
concerns Prometheus& release from capti'ity# (nlike %eschylus& 'ersion, howe'er,
there is no reconciliation between Prometheus and Zeus# $nstead, )upiter *"eus+ is
o'erthrown, which allows Prometheus to be released# Shelley&s play is closet drama,
meanin! it was not intended to be produced on the sta!e# $n the tradition of ,omantic
Poetry, Shelley wrote for the imagination, intendin! his play&s sta!e to reside in the
ima!inations of his readers# Like Prometheus, both Walton and Victor claim to
benefit mankind.
Percy Shelley was Mary Shelleys lo!er, ins"iration and later husband.
B. the )reek $ro'etheus by *onathan +adakethu
Prometheus was the son of $apetus who was one of the -itans# .e tricked the !ods into
eatin! bare bones instead of !ood meat# #e stole the sacred fire from Zeus and the
gods. Prometheus did not tell Zeus the "ro"hecy that one of Zeus$s sons will
o!erthrow him. $n punishment, "eus commanded that Prometheus be chained for
eternity in the /aucasus# -here, an ea!le would eat his li'er, and each day the li'er
would be renewed# So the punishment was endless, until .eracles finally killed the
hubris +hyoo'bris! hoo', noun excessive pride or self'confidence# arrogance.
Also!hybris Origin: -../0.1# 2 3k hbris insolence
C. &,he -i'e o! the #ncient .ariner%/ Sa'uel ,aylor Coleridge
/olerid!e was a ,omantic poet and friend of 0ary and Percy# %n
albatross is a lar!e sea bird that often follows ships to sca'en!e for food
scraps# $t was considered na'al superstition and a moral crime for a
sailor to shoot an albatross for either sport or food#
/hristian symbolism abounds in the poem1s moral lesson that 2all
creatures !reat and small3 were created by od and should be lo'ed, not
/olerid!e may also ha'e intended the poem as a commentary on the ways in which 4#
"eo"le inter"ret the lessons of the "ast and that the past, no matter how hard we try,
is sim"ly unknowable# (Sparknotes)
Here is a short excerpt:
-he ice was here, the ice was there,
-he ice was all around5
$t cracked and !rowled, and roared and howled,
6ike noises in a swound7
%t len!th did cross an %lbatross5
-horou!h the fo! it came8
%s if it had been a /hristian soul,
We hailed it in od&s name#
$t ate the food it ne&er had eat,
%nd round and round it flew#
-he ice did split with a thunder-fit8
-he helmsman steered us throu!h7
%nd a !ood south wind sprun! up behind8
-he %lbatross did follow,
%nd e'ery day, for food or play,
/ame to the mariners& hollo7
$n mist or cloud, on mast or shroud,
$t perched for 'espers nine8
Whiles all the ni!ht, throu!h fo!-smoke white,
limmered the white 0oon-shine#
%&od sa!e thee, ancient Mariner'
(rom the fiends, that "lague thee thus' ))
Why look$st thou so*% )) With my cross)bow
+ shot the ,L-,./0SS.
1. $aradise ost/ *ohn .ilton
09 0ans 9irst :isobedience, and the 9ruit
;f that 9orbidden -ree, whose mortal task
Brou!ht :eath into the World, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden, till one !reater 0an
,estore us, and re!ain the blissful Seat, < = >
Sin! .ea'&nly 0use , that on the secret top
;f Oreb, or of Sinai, didstinspire
-hat Shepherd, who first tau!ht the chosen Seed,
$n the Be!innin! how the .ea'&ns and ?arth
,ose out of Chaos 5 ;r if Sion .ill < 10 >
:eli!ht thee more, and Siloa's Brook that flow&d
9ast by the ;racle of od8 $ thence
$n'oke thy aid to my ad'entrous Son! ,
-hat with no middle fli!ht intends to soar
%bo'e th& Aonian 0ount , while it pursues < 1= >
-hin!s unattempted yet in Prose or ,hime #
%nd chiefly -hou ; Spirit, that dostprefer
Before all -emples th& upri!ht heart and pure,
$nstruct me, for -hou know&st8 -hou from the first
Wast present, and with mi!hty win!s outspread < 20 >
:o'e-like satstbroodin! on the 'ast %byss
%nd mad&st it pre!nant5 What in me is dark
$llumin, what is low raise and support8
-hat to the hi!hth of this !reat %r!ument
$ may assert ?ternal Pro'idence, < 2= >
%nd @ustifie the wayes of od to men# http5AAwww#paradiselost#or!A
$n the mid-se'enteenth century, )ohn 0ilton was a
successful "oet and "olitical acti!ist# .e wrote scathin!
pamphlets a!ainst corruption in the %n!lican /hurch and its ties to Bin! /harles who
was /atholic# $n 0ilton1s day Puritanism meant ha'in! "olitically radical !iews# %nd
at one point 0ilton was actually @ailed for recordin! them on paper# Paradise Lost is a
series of ar!uments put forth by the characters, which in turn ultimately eCpresses
0ilton1s personal truth# $t is, in that sense, a Puritanical work#
9or this poem he chose the fundamentals of /hristianity# -he central story line is built
around a few para!raphs in the beginning of &enesis1the story of ,dam and 2!e.
-he epic also uses elements from many other parts of the Bible, particularly in'ol'in!
Satan1s role# 9ocusin! his poem on the e'ents surroundin! the fall of %dam and ?'e,
0ilton =# intended, in his words, to 2@ustify the ways of od to men#3
Paradise 6ost has epic form features# $t is a lon!, narrati'e poem8 it follows the
e3"loits of a hero 4or anti)hero56 it in!ol!es warfare and the su"ernatural6 it
begins in the midst of the action, with earlier crises in the story brought in later by
flashback6 and it e3"resses the ideals and traditions of a "eo"le. $t has these
elements in common with the %eneid, the $liad, and the ;dyssey#
-he poem is in blank 'erse, that is, non-rhymin! 'erse# $n a note he added to the
second printin!, 0ilton eCpresses contempt for rhymin! poetry# Paradise 6ost is
composed in the 'erse form of iambic pentameterDthe same used by Shakespeare# $n
this style, a line is composed of fi'e lon!, unaccented syllables, each followed by a
short, accented one#
Controversy over Mintons views that he was a:
1. Christian who read and believed in the Hebrew Scriptures. ???
2. Christian who read and believed the New Testament. ???
3. Protestant Christian. ???
4. Reformed Protestant. ???
5. Independent thinker. ???
6. Heretic pol!"am!# Re$ected theTrinit!% &r!ian herac! '''
2. #lche'y and the $hilosopher%s Stone
Alchemy was a e!ie"al philosophy which #elie"e! that
thro$%h &chemistry' it was possi#le to turn base metals
into "old and find the eli(ir of life and lon"evit!. (t
com#ine! what we know o) earl! chemistr! with
spiritualism and the occult.

Paracelsus was Swiss physician who
died in 1=E1 who was an occultist and
alchemist# .e understood the healin!
power of nature and psycholo!ical illness

7ornelius ,gri""a wrote about the sorcerer1s apprentice who unleashes
power beyond his control
,lbertus Magnus- Bishop, :ominican, 0ystic, brou!ht the teachin!s of %ristotle and
the /hurch closer to!ether
0. Science4 .edicine and 1eath in the 1566s/1866s
a. Science" )al7inis' Scientific discovery of electricity led to the belief
that electricity was the origin o! li!e. Luigi Galvani in 1780s sent electric
current through frogs legs, activating them. It as !ust a short lea" in
logic to thin# that electricity could reani'ate dead hu'ans8 that it was
the secret to li!e itsel!
b. .edicine" little faith in doctors, bloodletting, discoveries such as
c. Early death" $igh mortality rate, "overty as ides"read, body
snatching for medical research
9. :istorical and Social E7ents
#. Exploration4 E'pires and
o %uro"ean countries e&"lored the orld to colonise ne lands and
exploit indigenous people through con<uest and sla7ery
B. International (phea7al" =ars4 -e7olutions and Changing +alues
o 'he Georgian #ings in %ngland ere unstable rulers, some ere even
o 'here had been 'any years o! war in Britain because of disagreements
over (rotestant and )atholic rulers
o 'he French -e7olution destablised %uro"e, shoing that the common
"eo"le could free themselves from o""ression *but not for long though+
o ,any soldiers returned !ro' war i'po7erished because there as no
social elfare
o 'he #'erican =ar o! Independence re!ected -ritains rule and fostered
7 freedom in hat as once a colony
3. Ideas" ,he #ge o! Enlighten'ent
#. ogic is 7alued8 e'otion and superstition are not
*e%an in the mi!!le o) the 1+

cent$ry with Descartes' Discourse
on the Method, p$#lishe! in 1,3+
-r perhaps a)ter *ritain.s /lorio$s
0e"ol$tion o) 1,11
-r with the p$#lication o) Isaac
Newton's Principia Mathematica
which )irst appeare! in 1,1+
2ey thinkers #e%an a critical )uestionin" of traditional institutions#
customs# and values
Some #elie"e that it en!e! with the *rench Revolution of +,-. or the
#e%innin% o) the 3apoleonic 4ars (1154615)
7hese thinkers aime! to understand the natural world and
humankind/s place in it solel! on the basis of reason and without
turnin" to reli"ious belief
(t #ecame a con)lict #etween reli%ion an! the in8$irin% min! that wante!
to know an! $n!erstan! thro$%h reason #ase! on e"i!ence an! proo).
(n 9rankenstein: 0ictor *rankenstein: the main character: learns
enli"htened thinkin". He is a st$!ent o) the $ni"ersity who tries to
!e"elop a creat$re thro$%h science: not the natural process of
He says: ;(n rather philosophical an! connecte! a strain: perhaps: ( ha"e
%i"en an acco$nt o) the concl$sions ( ha! come to concernin% them in my
early years. As a chil!: ( ha! not #een content with the res$lts promise!
#y the mo!ern pro)essors o) nat$ral science. 4ith a con)$sion o) i!eas
only to #e acco$nte! )or #y my extreme yo$th: an! my want o) a %$i!e on
s$ch matters: I had retrod the steps of the knowled"e alon" the paths
of time# and e(chan"ed the discoveries of recent en)uirers for the
dreams of modern natural philosoph!.1
B. -enee 1escartes 8
:escartes is often re!arded as the first thinker to
pro'ide a philosophical framework for the natural
sciences as these be!an to de'elop# $n his Discourse
on the Method, he attempts to arri'e at a
fundamental set of principles that one can know as
true without any doubt# -o achie'e this, he employs
a method called hyperbolicalAmetaphysical doubt, sometimes also referred to
as methodological ske"ticism8 he re@ects any ideas that can be doubted, and
then reestablishes them in order to acFuire a firm foundation for !enuine
$nitially, :escartes arri'es at only a sin!le principle5 thought e3ists. -hou!ht
cannot be separated from me, therefore, $ eCist# 0ost famously, this is known
as cogito ergo sum *?n!lish5 %+ think, therefore + am%+# -herefore,
:escartes concluded, if he doubted, then somethin! or someone must be
doin! the doubtin!, therefore the 'ery fact that he doubted pro'ed his
eCistence# G-he simple meanin! of the phrase is that if one is ske"tical of
e3istence, that is in and of itself "roof that he does e3ist.G
5. -o'anticis'
E'otion is 7alued8 logic is not
.ll about /I0 indi7idualis'4 i'aginati7e4 irrational4 illogical4
independent4 identity4 ingenuity4 intuiti7e4 e'otional4
'he social fear that the .ge of %nlightenment led to technological
ad7ance'ent4 the mass movement of the "o"ulation to the cities
and the destruction of nature led to a reaction against
rationalis' and logic in !a7or o! -o'anticis'"
$f the ?nli!htenment was a mo'ement which started amon! a tiny elite and slowly
spread to make its influence felt throu!hout society, ,omanticism was more
widespread both in its ori!ins and influence# $t sou!ht to change !alues by shiftin!
from a logical rational way of thinking to the !aluing of imagination and emotional
e3"eriences. $t chan!ed cultural emphasis from the technology and de!elo"ments of
the +ndustrial /e!olution to an a""reciation of nature and human e3"erience.
Be!innin! in ermany and ?n!land in the 1II0s, it tra'eled Fuickly to the rest of
?urope and %merica# When )ohn Williams created the sound of the future in Star
Wars, it was the sound of 1Hth-century ,omanticism--still the most popular style for
epic film soundtracks#
-eginning in the last decades of the :;th century, it transformed "oetry, the no!el,
drama, "ainting, scul"ture, all forms of concert music 4es"ecially o"era5, and
ballet# $t was deeply connected with the politics of the time, echoin! people&s fears,
hopes, and aspirations# $t was the 'oice of re'olution at the be!innin! of the 1Hth
century and the 'oice of the ?stablishment at the end of it# 6ike the ?nli!htenment,
,omanticism tri!!ered numerous counter)mo!ements, like /ealism and
+m"ressionism leading to the Modernist mo!ement.
2ffects of /omanticism are seen in8
,. (olklore and Po"ular ,rt
Some of the earliest stirrin!s of the ,omantic mo'ement are
con'entionally traced back to the mid-18th-century interest
in folklore which arose in ermany--with )akob and
Wilhelm rimm collectin! popular 10# fairy tales# -hese
acti'ities set the tone for one aspect of ,omanticism is the
belief that "roducts of the unculti!ated "o"ular imagination could e<ual or e!en
sur"ass those of the educated court "oets and com"osers.
$n ermany in particular, the idea of a collecti'e Volk *people+ dominated a !ood deal
of thinkin! about the arts# ,ather than payin! attention to the indi'idual authors of
popular works, these scholars celebrated the anonymous masses who in'ented and
transmuted these works as if from their 'ery souls# %ll of this fantasiJin!
about the creati'e folk process reflected precious little knowled!e about the
actual processes by which son!s and stories are created and passed on and
created as well an ideolo!y of the essence of the erman soul which was to
be used to dire effect by the KaJis in the 20th century#
-. =ationalism
-he natural conseFuence of dwellin! on creati'e folk !enius was nationalism# 9rench
,omantic paintin! is full of themes relatin! to the tumultuous political e'ents of the
period and later ,omantic music often draws its inspiration from national folk music#
7. /es"onses to Shakes"eare
;ne of the early effects of this interest in the folk arts seems
particularly stran!e today 5 the rise and s"read of the
re"utation of William Shakes"eare. %lthou!h he is re!arded
today as the epitome of the !reat writer, his reputation was at first
'ery different# /omantics belie!ed that Shakes"eare was a
"o"ular "laywright who wrote for the commercial theater in
London. .e was not colle!e-educated, and althou!h his company had the sponsorship
of Bin! )ames, his work was not entirely Grespectable#G
%cademic critics at first scorned his indiscipline, his re@ection of their concepts of
drama which were deri'ed in part from ancient ,oman and reek patterns# % !ood
play should not miC comedy with tra!edy, not ha!e too many plots and subplots, not
ramble throu!h a wide 'ariety of settin!s or dra! out its story o'er months or years of
dramatic time8 but Shakes"eare$s "lays did all these things# % proper serious drama
should always be di'ided neatly into fi'e acts, but Shakespeare&s plays simply flowed
from one scene to the neCt# -ecause Shakes"eare was a "o"ular rather than a
courtly writer, the /omantics e3aggerated his sim"le origins and his s"ontaneous
>. .he &othic /omance, &othic #orror ::.
%nother Fuite distinct contribution to the ,omantic mo'ement
was the othic romance# -he first was .orace Walpole&s Castle
o Otranto *1IL=+, set in a haunted castle and containin! 'arious
mysterious apparitions such as a !i!antic mailed fist# /e?ecting
the 2nlightenment ideal of balance and rationalism, readers eagerly sought out
the hysterical, mystical, "assionate ad!entures of terrified heroes and heroines in
the clutches of frightening, mysterious forces. -he modern horror no'el and
woman&s romance are both descendants of the othic romance, as transmuted throu!h
such masterworks as /harlotte Bronte&s !ane E"re and her sister ?mily&s Wutherin#
$ei#hts% %nother classic othic work, 0ary Shelley&s &rankenstein, is often cited as a
forerunner of modern science fiction#
2. Medie!alism
-he othic no'el embraced the Medie!al 4%&othic%5 culture so
disdained by the early 18th century# Whereas classical art looked
back constantly to the ancient reeks and ,omans, the ,omantics
celebrated for the first time since the ,enaissance the wilder aspects
of the creati'ity of Western ?uropeans from the 12th throu!h the 1Eth
centuries5 stained !lass in soarin! cathedrals, tales of ,obin .ood and
his merry men, and--abo'e all--the old tales of Bin! %rthur and the
kni!hts of the round table# -his influence was to spread far beyond
the othic romance to all artistic forms in ?urope, and li!es on in the "o"ular fantasy
no!els of today.
(. 2motion
-he other influential characteristic of the &othic romance was its e!ocation of
strong, irrational emotions))"articularly horror. -he othic writers e'oked all
manner of irrational scenes desi!ned to horrify and amaJe# ,omantic writers !enerally
also priJed the more tender sentiments of affection, sorrow, and romantic lon!in!#
&. /ousseau @ 23aggeration of emotions
,ousseau was a moody, o'er-sensiti'e, e'en paranoid writer and
composer of the 18
century# .is sentimental no'el Julie, or the New
Heloise was of importance to the de'elopment of pre-
and romanticism in fiction#

#is no!els featured
tearful sentimental wallowing in the longings and
disa""ointments of frustrated "rotagonists which is alien to
modern audiences. -he 20th century !enerally re@ected sentimentalism, e'en definin!
its essence as false, eCa!!erated 12# emotion8 and we tend to find comical much that
the ,omantic a!e priJed as mo'in! and beautiful# $ts proponents ar!ued that one could
be morally and s"iritually u"lifted by culti'atin! a !reater sensiti'ity to feelin!s# -he
culti'ation of em"athy for the sufferings of others could e'en be a 'ehicle for social
chan!e, as in the works of /harles :ickens#
;f all the emotions celebrated by the /omantics, the most "o"ular was lo!e#
%lthou!h the !reat ,omantic works often center on terror or rage, the moti'e force
behind these passions is most often a relationshi" between a "air of lo!ers# $t was the
romantics who first celebrated romantic lo'e as the natural birthri!ht of e'ery human
bein!, the most eCalted of human sentiments, and the necessary foundation of a
successful marria!e#
-his con'iction which continues to shape much of our thinkin! about relationships,
marria!e, and the family found its mature form durin! the ,omantic a!e# So
thoroughly has lo!e become identified with romance that the two are now
generally taken as synonyms#
#. 23oticism
%nother important aspect of ,omanticism is the e3otic.
)ust as ,omantics responded to the lon!in! of people for
a distant past, so they pro'ided ima!es of distant places#
Korth %frica and the 0iddle ?ast pro'ided images of
%,sia% to 2uro"eans# enerally anywhere south of the
country where one was resided was considered more
relaCed, more colorful, more sensual# Such e3oticism consisted lar!ely of simple
stereotypes# 0any people toured abroad which encoura!ed ?uropean colonialist
+. /eligion
;ne of the most compleC de'elopments durin! this period is the transformation of
religion into a sub?ect for artistic treatment far remo!ed from traditional religious
art. -he ?nli!htenment had weakened, but hardly obliterated established reli!ion in
?urope# %s time passed, sophisticated writers and artists were less and less likely to be
con'entional belie'ers8 but durin! the ,omantic era many of them were drawn to
religious imagery in the same way they were drawn to %rthurian or other ancient
traditions in which they no lon!er belie'ed# ,eli!ion was aestheticiJed, and writers felt
free to draw on -iblical themes with the same freedom as their predecessors had
drawn on classical mythology, and with as little re'erence#
-he mi3ture of disbelief in and fascination with religion illustrates that social
chan!e is like the mo'ement of wa'es on a beach, in which an early wa'e is recedin!
while another ad'ances o'er it, and elements of both become miCed to!ether#
A. +ndi!idualism :B.
;ne of the most important de'elopments of this period is the rise in the importance of
indi!idualism# Before the 18th /entury, few ?uropeans concerned themsel'es with
disco'erin! their own indi!idual identities# -hey were what they had been born5
nobles, peasants, or merchants# %s mercantilism and capitalism !radually transformed
?urope, howe'er, it destabiliCed the old patterns# -he new industrialists naturally liked
to credit themsel'es for ha'in! built their lar!e fortunes and re@ected the ri!ht of
society to re!ulate and taC their enterprises# Sometimes they tried to fit into the
traditional patterns by buyin! noble titles8 but more and more often they de'eloped
their own tastes in the arts and created new social and artistic mo'ements alien to the
old aristocracy#
-hey could now afford to "ursue their indi!idual tastes in a way not possible e'en in
the ,enaissance#
-he most influential eCemplar of indi'idualism for the 1Hth century was not a creati'e
artist at all, but a military man5 =a"oleon -ona"arte# -he dramatic way in which he
rose to the head of 9rance in the chaotic wake of its bloody re'olution, led his army to
a series of triumphs in ?urope to build a brief but influential ?mpire, and created new
styles, tastes, and e'en laws with disre!ard for public opinion fascinated the people of
the time#
-he modern fascination with self)definition and self)in!ention, the notion that
adolescence is naturally a time of rebellion in which one %finds oneself,% the idea
that the best path to faith is throu!h indi!idual choice, the idea that go!ernment e3ists
to ser!e the indi!iduals who ha'e created it5 all of these are products of the romantic
celebration of the indi'idual at the eCpense of society and tradition#
D. =ature
-he ,omantics, @ust as they culti'ated sensiti'ity to emotion !enerally, especially
culti'ated sensiti'ity to nature# $t came to be felt that to muse by a stream, to 'iew a
thunderin! waterfall or e'en confront a rollin! desert could be morally impro'in!#
0uch of the nature writin! of the 1Hth century has a reli!ious Fuality to it absent in any
other period# $t may seem paradoCical that it was ?ust at the moment when the
industrial re!olution was destroying large tracts of woods and fields and creating
an artificial en!ironment in 2uro"e that "eo"le started to a""reciate nature.
People in urban en'ironments are aware of the stark contrast between their daily li'es
and the eCistence of the inhabitants of the wild who romanticise nature# -hey are
attracted to it precisely because they are no lon!er a part of it#
L. Victorianism
Mictorianism featured "rudish attitudes popularly associated with Nueen Mictoria&s
1E# rei!n# Mictoria did not create Mictorianism, she merely eCemplified the 'alues of
the time# -ut throughout the Victorian "eriod the wild, "assionate, erotic, e!en
destructi!e as"ects of /omanticism continue in e!idence in all the arts.
8. ,he ?ew !or' o! iterature" the ?o7el @'eaning &new%A
Altho$%h poetry an! !rama ha! lon% histories #ack to Ancient /reece: the
no"el was a new )orm s$ch as /$lli"er's 7ra"els 1+2,: #y <onathon Swi)t.
7hese new no"els were written with inno"ati"e str$ct$res s$ch as
travelo"ues# letters and framed stories within stories. 7he )rame! narrati"e
str$ct$re acts to in)orm the characters b! providin" a parallel with the outer
stor!. (t seeks to reveal a moral truth or to pro"i!e a #ack story )or the
characters. S$ch a str$ct$re allows the composer to subtl! manipulate the
perceptions of responders b! creatin" distance and castin" doubt on the
once or twice removed stor!teller2s motives.
B. $ersonal Context .ary =ollstonecra!t Shelley
!"#"$!%&!'! English author who wrote the 3othic horror stor
Frankenstein or; The Modern Prometheus 4-.-.5. )he 6reature* 7(
a) alone and )iserable* )an will not associate with )e# but
one as deformed and horrible as mself would not den herself to
me. M companion must be of the same species and have the same
defects. )his being ou must create.8
A. )ook time to become popular* 9tarting as a ghost story and
ins+ired by a conversation, 9helle had overheard between her
husband :erc $sshe 9helle and ;ord 3eorge 3ordon $ron talking
about galvanis)! it soon became one of the first best selling works
b a female author. 9ir Walter 9cott mistakenl thought it had been
written b :erc! and it received )i,ed reviews, but toda it is still
-1 widel read and has inspired various adaptations to the stage and
$. 3othic <omanticism* )he 3othic movement evolved from
<omanticism! and focused on philosophical =uestions like the -uest
o. hu)anity to achieve +er.ection, and through a character even
at first so disturbing as the scientificall created 6reature! we
ulti)ately see all o. hu)anitys )oral struggles. 9helle
adopted man of her father! William 3odwins! philosophical ideas
about anarchism and libertarianism. %n >rankenstein such ideas
result in tragedy/
6. Earl deaths and traged* Mar Wollstonecraft 3odwin was born
on ?/ August -@A@ in ;ondon! England! the second daughter of Mar
Wollstonecraft 4-@1A'-@A@5! feminist and author of A Vindication of
the Rights of Women 4-@A&5 and William 3odwin 4-@1B'-.?B5 father
of philosophical anarchism and author of An Inquiry Concerning
Political ustice 4-@A?5. Marys )other died soon a.ter her birth
and she and her half sister >ann gained a stepsister! 6laire! when
her father remarried Mar Cane 6lairmont. 6laire and Mar would
remain ver close for the rest of their lives.
D. Distant >ather* )here were bitter times for Mar growing up with
a cruel ste+ )other and e)otionally distant .ather# she
consoled herself at her )others graveside and spent periods of
time in 9cotland with friends of the famil. 9he was educated at
home b tutors were she studied her parents writings and literature
and poetr! as well as learning ;atin! >rench! and %talian. 9he also
read the works of the Enlightenment literar figures her unorthodo,
+arents associated with including the poets William $lake! 9amuel
)alor 6oleridge! and 6harles ;amb.
E. :erc* poet! lover! husband* Mar met her future husband :erc
$sshe 9helle 4-@A&'-.&&5 around the age of sixteen when he
became ac=uainted with her atheist .ather and his philosoph!
which he soon adopted. He spent much time at the 3odwins
household discussing politics and events of the da. :erc was
unhappil married to Harriet Westbrook 4-@A1'-.-B5 at the time!
and despite Marys .ather .orbidding her to see hi) any)ore,
he and Mar eloped to >rance in -.-E with 6laire in tow for a six
week tour of Europe. Mars fathers free love philosoph did not
extend to her and they were !0 estranged until she )arried/
;iving in ;ondon with 6laire and :erc! Mary and Percys daughter
Clara was born in 1ebruary o. !%!& though she died a .ew
wee2s later. 9oon after! William was born 4-.-B'-.-A5 and the trio
set out again! traveling through >rance! 3erman! and 9witFerland.
)he spent part of the extraordinar Gear without a summer of
-.-B at ;ake 3eneva! where ;ord 3eorge 3ordon $ron also
summered and had a scandalous affair with 6laire. )he had a
daughter! Allegra $ron 4-.-@'-.&&5. Mar and :erc 9helle
married in ?/ December -.-B at 9t. Mildreds church in ;ondon.
)he Hointl wrote about their travels in !istory of "i# Weeks Tour
Advocates of vegetarianis) and issues o. social re.or)! the
9helles were matched on man levels intellectuall though Mar
did not embrace the idea of an open marriage or Gtrue love ideals
:erc longed for and expressed in so man of his poems. 9he had
started writing Frankenstein in !%!0 while in Switzerland,
inspired b their man sailing trips on the lake and nights telling
each other ghost stories. A second daughter named 6lara was born
in -.-@ but she died a ear later.
Iow that the were married and Mar was on speaking terms with
her father! she and :erc moved back to %tal! staing for a time in
various cities including Milan! :isa! and Venice. Much of their travels
in %tal surrounded the issues between $ron and 6laire and their
daughter Allegra. While living in >lorence Percy 1lorence was born
in !%!# d/!%%#' the sa)e year 3illia) died/ After
Frankenstein! Mathilda 4-.-A5! Pros$er$ine and Midas 4-.&/5
%n -.&&! Shelley su..ered a )iscarriage which al)ost too2 her
li.e/ )he same ear! as was one of his favorite past times! :erc was
sailing on his schooner GDon Cuan with friend Edward Williams when
a sudden storm blew up and it sank. Percys body washed ashore
and as were his wishes, he was cre)ated on the beach near
4iareggio. Mar soon devoted her energies to the massive
undertaking of compiling his poetr and writing extensive notes for
them included in The Com$lete Poetical Works of Percy %ysshe
5evastated by her loss! in -.&? Mar returned to England with her
-@ son :erc. :erc $sshes father 9ir )imoth 9helle provided his
grandson :erc an annual income whilst he attended school before
he inherited the estate and title in -.EE when 9ir )imoth died. Mar
continued work on her own novels including Val$erga 4-.&?5 and
wrote numerous short stories! essas! poems! and reviews that
appeared in various Hournals and magaFines including &ondon
Maga'ine and Westminster Re(ie). Her second most popular novel!
The &ast Man was published in -.&B. Jther works to follow include#
Perkin War*eck 4-.?/5! &edore 4-.?15! Falkner 4-.?@5! and Ram*les
in +ermany and Italy 4-.EE5. :ossibl brought on b the strain of
her prolific writing career or various travels! b the earl -.E/s
9helle often suffered bouts of illness that would plague her for her
remaining ears.Mar Wollstonecraft 9helle died at home in ;ondon
at the age of fift'four on - >ebruar -.1-. 9he lies buried in 9t.
:eters churchard in $ournemouth! Dorset! England.