- Slides: 33
Frankenstein Modern Prometheus
Mary Shelley ¡ ¡ ¡ Born in 1797 to William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft Her mother died shortly after Mary was born Shelley learned about her mother only through writings her mother left behind, including A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) which advocated that women should have the same educational opportunities as rights in society as men.
Mary and Mary ¡ Wanted women to pursue intellectual and maternal spheres l Mary writes in an October 1838 journal entry that she was hesitant about promoting the “good cause. . . Of the advancement of freedom and knowledge – of the rights of women”
Mary and William Godwin ¡ ¡ ¡ Active in Mary’s career and life Stoic, cold Remarried Mary Jane Vial Clairmont Sent Mary to Scotland Refused to speak to Mary when she married Percy Poor finances “I detest Mrs. G[odwin] she plagues my father out of his life and then – well no matter– why will not Godwin follow the obvious bent of his affection and be reconciled to us” Letter written to Percy October 28, 1814
Mary Shelley Avid reader and scholar and knew through her father some of the most important men of the time (William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge) ¡ Married (scandal!) Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1816 and listened intently to his intellectual conversations with others ¡
Mary and Percy ¡ ¡ ¡ Open relationship Failed pregnancies Percy drowned, Mary a widow “Until I knew Shelley I may justly say that he [Godwin] was my God – and I remember many childish instances of the excess of attachment I bore for him” Letter written to Jane Williams on December 5, 1822
Mary Shelley ¡ On a visit in Switzerland with PBS to Lord Byron, she was challenged to write a story. She had heard Byron and Shelley discussing “the nature of the principle of life and whethere was any chance of its ever being discovered. ” From this conversation, she had the “waking dream” which eventually became the novel Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley ¡ ¡ ¡ Percy Florence Upon Shelley’s death she focused on her career and son Pushed to publish Percy’s works Last decade of life plagued by illness Died of a brain tumor Frankenstein, Mathilda, The Last Man, Lodore
Historical Context ¡ ¡ Ambiguous Walton’s letters dated “ 17 -” with no reference to anything specific to pinpoint the date. It is set in the latter part of the 18 th century, at the end of the Enlightenment and the beginning of the Romantic period. It critiques the excesses of the Enlightenment and introduces the beliefs of the Romantics. Reflects a shift in social and political thought – from humans as creatures who use science and reason to shape and control their destiny to humans as creatures who rely on their emotions to determine what is right.
Ideas of the Enlightenment ¡ ¡ ¡ ¡ Scientific observation of the outer world Logic and reason; science and technology Believed in following standards and traditions Appreciated elegance and refinement Interested in maintaining the aristocracy Sought to follow and validate authority Favored a social hierarchy Nature should be controlled by humans
Important Revolutions ¡ ¡ American and French Revolution (call for individual freedom and an overthrow of rigid social hierarchy) Industrial Revolution – social system challenged by change from agricultural society to industrial one with a large, impoverished and restless working class
Characteristics of Romantic Period ¡ ¡ ¡ Emphasis on imagination and emotion, individual passion and inspiration Rejection of formal, upper class works and a preference for writing (poetry) that addresses personal experiences and emotions in simple, language A turn to the past or an inner dream world that is thought to be more picturesque and magical than the current world (industrial age)
Characteristics of Romantic Period ¡ ¡ ¡ Belief in individual liberty; rebellious attitude against tyranny Fascination with nature; perception of nature as transformative Optimism and a belief in human possibilities
Characteristics of Romantic Period ¡ ¡ ¡ Concerned with common people Favored democracy Desired radical change Nature should be untamed Romantic hero an artist who is a social rebel or melancholy outcast
Style: Gothic Novel ¡ ¡ gloomy settings supernatural events atmosphere of mystery and terror psychological realism, delving into the psyches of the characters
Style: Gothic Novel ¡ ¡ ¡ Wild and remote settings (haunted castles) Harsh, cruel Inspire fear of the unknown
Divinity School at Oxford
Major Characters ¡ Victor Frankenstein – protagonist, product of an idealistic Enlightenment education; fueled by possibilities of science and a desire for acclaim; becomes obsessed with creating life from spare body parts. Rational demeanor dissolves and by story’s end, consumed by primitive emotions of fear and hatred.
Major Characters ¡ The Creature - never named; is Victor’s doppelganger (alter ego); Creature rationally analyzes the society that rejects him; sympathetic character, admires people and wants to be a part of human society; only results in violence when he is repeatedly rejected
Major Characters ¡ ¡ ¡ Henry Clerval – Victor’s childhood friend; true romantic, wants to leave mark on the world, but never loses sight of “the moral relations of things: Elizabeth – adopted as an infant by Victor’s family; marries Victor Robert Walton – Arctic explorer who’s obsessed with gaining knowledge and fame; rescues Victor in the Arctic; tells the story
Themes Consequences of irresponsibility in the pursuit of knowledge ¡ Consequences of pride ¡ Consequences of society’s rejection of someone who is unattractive ¡ Destructive power of revenge ¡ Parent-child conflicts ¡ Sympathy ¡
Other Literary Elements Irony – 2 major ironies ¡ Creature is more sympathetic, more imaginative and more responsible to fellow creatures ¡ Creature has many pleasing qualities but is an outcast because he’s not physically attractive ¡
Symbols White/light= knowledge ¡ Water = knowledge ¡ Ice = danger ¡ Lightning = nature’s power ¡ Nature = acceptance, nuturing, calm ¡ Mountains= sublime in nature ¡
Antithesis-Contrasts of ideas, characters, themes, settings or moods ¡ Victor/creation ¡ Passion/reason ¡ Masculine/feminine ¡ Beautiful/ugly ¡ Natural/unnatural ¡ Good/bad ¡ Known/unknown ¡ Light/dark ¡ Civilized/savage ¡ Heat/cold
Allusion Paradise Lost by John Milton – story of man’s fall from innocence to painful knowledge; Victor can be compared to Adam, Satan, and Eve ¡ The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge, like narrator, tells story as a warning and a confession ¡
Literary Terms ¡ ¡ ¡ Theme - the central and dominating idea in a literary work. Dynamic - a character who undergoes an important inner change, as a change in personality or attitude Static - a character who undergoes little or no inner change; a character who does not grow or develop. Round - a character whose personality, background, motives, and other features are fully delineated by the author Flat - a minor character who does not undergo substantial change or growth in the course of a story
Literary Terms ¡ ¡ Hero Anti-hero – a character who lacks traditional heroic qualities such as courage, physical prowess, and fortitude. Anti-heros typically distrust conventional values and are unable to commit themselves to any ideals. They generally feel helpless in a world over which they have no control. Anti-heroes usually accept, and often celebrate, their positions as social outcasts. Frame Tale – a story within a story Flashback - A sudden and disturbing vivid memory of an event in the past, typically as the result of psychological trauma
Structure and Point of View Frame Story Epistolary – carried by letters
Literary Terms ¡ ¡ Doppelganger - a ghostly double of a living person that haunts its living counterpart Foil - a character who contrasts with another character (usually the protagonist) in order to highlight particular qualities of the other character.
Prometheus ¡ ¡ ¡ Prometheus was a Titan Prometheus sneaked to Mt. Olympus Stole fire from the gods Gave fire to man Zeus punished Prometheus chained to a rock
Prometheus and Frankenstein ¡ ¡ What does the “fire” represent? Why would Zeus be angry? Why would Prometheus do this? Frankenstein is subtitled “Modern Prometheus” think about who resembles Prometheus and what the “fire” is.