Shelley, Mary. (1797 - 1851).
L i f e
- daughter of the pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft-Godwin and the philosopher William Godwin, wife of Percy Bysshe Shelley
W o r k
Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus (1818):
- the idea for the novel originated in the literary circle in Switzerland, on discussion of metaphysical ideas, the myth of Prometheus, and the enterprise of modern science
- a study of the consequences of a scientific experiment and of moving into the unknown, and a morally probing exploration of responsibility in science
- presents multiple narrative layers:
(a) the first person account of the solitary explorer Robert Walton
(b) the confessions of Dr Frankenstein who created the monster
(c) the confessions of the creature himself
- draws a parallel between classical myth and modern experiment:
(a) Frankenstein is linked to Prometheus: both are punished, Prometheus by a jealous heaven, Frakenstein by a challenge to his authority on the part of the monster
(b) the monster is likened to Adam: both are lonely and questioning, and turn to accuse their creators with a trained intelligence
(c) the monster becomes a Satan: overhears and grasps something of John Milton’s Paradise Lost, and realises how much he has in common with Satan
- climax: envy, defeat, and unhappiness lead the monster to a jealous destruction
"All, save I, were at rest or in enjoyment; I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me, and finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin."
From Frankenstein (1818).
(Painting: Joshua Reynolds. 1756. Source: Wikimedia Commons).
AuthorBorn Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Married Shelley. (1797 - 1851). British.
WorkNovelist. Author of Frankenstein (1818).
GenreRomanticism. Gothic novel.
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