- Slides: 29
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
More Bad News Her sister committed suicide Her son (William) died from malaria Her daughter next daughter died from dysentery. Lots of bad luck!!!
• Summer of 1816 The “Birth” of Frankenstein – Mary and Percy Shelley were living near the poet Lord Byron and his doctor-friend John Polidori on Lake Geneva in the Swiss Alps. – During a period of incessant rain, the four of them were reading ghost stories to each other when Byron proposed that they each try to write one. – For days Shelley could not think of an idea. Then, while she was listening to Lord Byron and Percy discussing the probability of using electricity to create life.
The Structure of the Story • The novel is constructed of three concentric layers, one within the other: – outermost--Robert Walton's letters to his sister; – middle--Frankenstein's story as he tells it to Walton; – innermost--Monster's description to Frankenstein of the development of his mind.
Paradise Lost – Referenced Often • Paradise Lost is John Milton's attempt to "justify the ways of God to man" by retelling of the story of Creation, the revolt of Lucifer and his fall from grace, and the story of Adam and Eve.
So what was Science like during Mary Shelly’s time?
Science • Erasmus Darwin pioneered some of the greatest scientific advancements of the time. • Plant nutrition • Photosynthesis • Cloud formations
Science • Italian physician Luigi Galvani announces his discovery of "animal electricity" which manifests in the twitching of nerves and muscles when an electric current is applied.
Science and Inventions • Developments of medicine and hygiene • Steam engine • Interchangeable parts • Light bulb • Type writer • Sewing machine • Another Inventor during this time is Alessandro Volta, who experimented with electric currents and invented the modern battery
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? • Rebelled against Enlightenment’s emphasis on reason • Wanted to inspire deep emotions • An age of passion, rebellion, individuality, imagination, intuition, idealism, and creativity. • Nature in the raw, wild state
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, Robert’s attempt to conquer the sea and Victor’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 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 • Villian: 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:
Dangerous Knowledge • Should we fool around with Nature? • Are there laws (“God’s Laws”) that are off limits to humanity? • Prometheus Myth: He stole fire from the Gods for humans. He was punished for eternity by being tied to a rock and having a vulture eat his liver every morning
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!