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Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Influences and Literary Elements
What do you already know about… �The character named “Frankenstein”? �The way the monster was created? �The way the monster looks?
Think about this… �Can you sympathize with people who get frustrated with or even give up their children because they have physical or mental handicaps?
Think about this… �What can happen to a person in the long run if he/she doesn’t have consistent support from a parent early on in life?
Influences on Frankenstein �Mary Shelley had radical parents (a feminist and a philosopher) who didn’t believe in marriage and lived separately �Mother died 11 days after Mary’s birth �Mary ran off with married poet Percy Shelley as a teenager �Percy’s pregnant wife drowned herself Mary Wollestonecraft Shelley �Mary and Percy had a number of children who died in infancy or were miscarried �Apprehension of giving birth runs through novel
Influences on Frankenstein �Mary and Percy spent a rainy vacation in Switzerland �To pass the time, Lord Byron suggested a ghost story contest �Mary literally dreamt up the story of Frankenstein for her entry �Mary named Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner as a major influence �She was only 19 when she finished the novel. Switzerland, one setting of Frankenstein
Influences on Frankenstein �Prometheus of Greek myth �Stole fire from Zeus and gave it to mortals. �Zeus punished him by binding him to a rock for an eagle eat his liver every day. �Story implies that Prometheus overreached the boundaries of human knowledge. �Frankenstein is subtitled The Modern Prometheus. Trace this idea throughout the novel!
Characteristics of Romanticism �Valuing sensitivity and feelings over intellectualism �Valuing the wisdom of people who might not be well- educated or sophisticated �Appreciating people for being unconventional and unique �Maintaining childlike curiosity and spontaneity �Maintaining a strong connection with nature �Considering science and technology dangerous Mary and Percy Shelley were well-entrenched in the Romantic movement. Examine how Shelley incorporates these elements in the novel.
Frankenstein – Gothic Novel Characteristics � Dark, creepy settings � Castles, graveyards, old houses � Atmosphere of mystery and suspense � Novel overshadowed by a threatening feeling, and/or a fear of the unknown. �Omens and visions � Phenomenon can be seen as a portent of coming events.
Frankenstein – Gothic Novel Characteristics �Supernatural or inexplicable events �Fantastic, dramatic events, such as ghosts appearing, giants walking, or inanimate objects coming to life. �High, “overwrought” emotion �Characters experience feeling of impending doom, and suffer from “raw nerves. ” Crying, emotional speeches, breathlessness and panic are all common.
Frankenstein – Gothic Novel Characteristics �Women in distress � Female characters find themselves fainting, terrified, screaming, and/or sobbing as an appeal to the pathos and sympathy of the reader. �Women threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male � Often categorized as Byronic heroes
Other Notes �Novel’s frame tale: Walton, an explorer, is telling the story of Victor Frankenstein through letters to his sister (then Victor fills in). �Scientific exploration of the day also inspired the writing. Galvanism �Galvanism (reanimating bodies with electricity) �Polar expeditions �“Frankenstein” is the name of the man who made the monster. The monster is known only as “the creature. ” The creature is not green!
Robert Walton’s narrative (written in letters to his sister, Margaret Saville) Frankenstein’s narrative (told to Robert Walton) The creature’s narrative (told to Victor Frankenstein)