- Slides: 28
FRANKENSTEIN BY MARY SHELLEY
Who was Mary Shelley? • Born in 1797 to 2 leading intellectuals: Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin • Married Percy Shelley at the age of 16 • At the age of 18 she wrote Frankenstein: The Modern Prometheus • Frankenstein is the greatest example of British Romanticism in the novel form
Shelley’s Tragedies • She gave birth to 4 children in 5 years. 3 of them died in infancy • Shelley lost her husband in a boating accident after only 8 years of marriage • Critics say that Frankenstein is greatly influenced by themes of Birth and Death
What is Romanticism? Romanticism is a reaction to the Age of Reason
The Age of Reason • Time Period: roughly 1700 -1797 • The Enlightenment, or the age of reason, is often closely linked with the Scientific Revolution, for both movements emphasized reason, science, and rationality
What is Romanticism? Romanticism is also a rejection of Classicism: the precepts of order, calm, harmony, balance, idealization, and rationality were replaced with the subjective, the irrational, the imaginative, the personal, the spontaneous, the emotional, the visionary, and the transcendental.
What did the Romantics Believe?
The Natural World • That the beauty of nature should be studied • That trying to control was dangerous • That nature provides solace or comfort to the individual
Natural World Cont’d • In the novel, Walton’s attempt to conquer the sea and Victor Frankenstein’s scientific experiments reveal man’s attempt to control or exploit the natural world
The Individual Romanticism favored the idea of the Individual This Individual is Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary’s husband!
The Individual • The Romantics had a preoccupation with the genius, the hero, and the exceptional figure • They focused on his passions and inner struggles • They viewed the artist as a supremely individual creator, whose creative spirit is more important than strict adherence to formal rules and traditional procedures • They emphasized imagination as a gateway to the transcendental, leading to belief in. . .
The Supernatural !!! Which leads us to: The Gothic Novel!
The Gothic Novel The Gothic novel took shape mostly in England from 1790 to 1830 and falls within the category of Romantic literature.
The Gothic Novel The Gothic is far from limited to this set time period, as it takes its roots from former terrorizing writing that dates back to the Middle Ages, and can still be found written today by writers such as Stephen King
The Gothic Novel • Gothic novel could be seen as a description of a fallen world. • We experience this fallen world though all aspects of the novel: plot, setting, characterization, and theme. • This leads us to the Gothic Hero. . .
No! Not these kinds of goths!
Gothic Archetypes • Gothic Hero: isolated either voluntarily or involuntarily • Villain: epitome of evil, either by his (usually a man) own fall from grace, or by some implicit malevolence • The Wanderer, found in many Gothic tales, is the epitome of isolation as he wanders the earth in perpetual exile, usually a form of divine punishment
What the book isn’t:
Themes in the book: (((A more realistic Creature!
Dangerous Knowledge • Should we fool around with Nature? • Are there laws (“God’s Laws”) that are off limits to humanity? • See the Myth of Prometheus
Nothing In Excess • Stressed importance of leading balanced and moderate lifestyle • During Shelley’s time, people were struggling to adjust to the Industrial Age • In our time, we struggle to balance our humanity with our dependence on technology
Sublime Nature Throughout the novel, pay attention to how the characters are influenced by the natural world. Also note Shelley’s long descriptions of the natural world. This is classic Romanticism!
Gothic Motifs in Frankenstein • The Double or Doppelganger (German for "double-goer"):
The double motif involves a comparison or contrast between two characters or sets of characters within a work to represent opposing forces in human nature. For example, Dr. Jekyll and his evil double Mr. Hyde are contrasted to represent the battle between the rational, intellectual self (Jekyll) and the irrational, bestial self (Hyde). The double motif suggests that humans are burdened with a dual nature, a soul forever divided.
Forbidden Knowledge or Power/ Faust Motif: Forbidden knowledge/power is often the Gothic protagonist’s goal. The Gothic "hero" questions the universe’s ambiguous nature and tries to comprehend and control those supernatural powers that mortals cannot understand. He tries to overcome human limitations and make himself into a "god. " This ambition usually leads to the hero’s "fall" or destruction; however, Gothic tales of ambition sometimes paradoxically evoke our admiration because they picture individuals with the courage to defy fate and cosmic forces in an attempt to transcend the mundane to the eternal and sublime.
Monster/Satanic Hero/Fallen Man: • The courageous search forbidden knowledge or power always leads the hero to a fall, a corruption, or destruction, such as Satan’s or Adam’s fall. Consequently, the hero in Gothic literature is often a "villain. " The hero is isolated from others by his fall and either becomes a monster or confronts a monster who is his double. He becomes a "Satanic hero" if, like Satan, he has courageously defied the rules of God’s universe and has tried to transform himself into a god. Note: the mad scientist, who tries to transcend human limitations through science, is a type of Satanic hero that is popular in Gothic literature (examples include Dr. Jekyll and Frankenstein).
Dreams/Visions: Terrible truths are often revealed to characters through dreams or visions. The hidden knowledge of the universe and of human nature emerges through dreams because, when the person sleeps, reason sleeps, and the supernatural, unreasonable world can break through. Dreams in Gothic literature express the dark, unconscious depths of the psyche that are repressed by reason— truths that are too terrible to be comprehended by the conscious mind.
Signs/Omens: • Reveal the intervention of cosmic forces and often represent psychological or spiritual conflict (e. g. , flashes of lightning and violent storms might parallel some turmoil within a character’s mind).