Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s
A Message on the
Irony and Danger in the
Quest for Power
Images of Frankenstein—Why is it a Classic?
 Thesis
 The Romantic Period
 The Gothic Novel
 Scientific Research of the Time
 The Author - Mary Shelley
 Shelley’s Purpose—A Novel Analysis . . .
(a.k.a. the rest of your unit!)
Images of “Frankenstein”
What is your image of “Frankenstein”? Draw it or jot down a
list of descriptive words.
Why is it a Classic?
It speaks
It warns us of human’s
relentless search for power
It reveals
Influenced by the Romantic Period,
the scientific inquiry of her time, and
her own life, Mary Shelley’s Gothic
novel, Frankenstein, presents a clear
message on the irony and danger in the
quest for power.
Setting the Stage . . .
What influenced Shelley to write this novel?
The Romantic Period
The Gothic Novel
Scientific Research
Her own life
The Romantic Period
Time of political revolution and new ways of looking at the world
(especially in the light of the French Revolution)
A time of expression.
Britain was becoming the most powerful nation in the world.
Britain’s prosperity (Industrial Revolution) eventually created a
sense of British righteousness.
Critiqued the single-mindedness of the Enlightenment period;
much more self-conscious.
– “Whereas the Enlightenment period saw man in common, that is, as creatures
endowed with Reason, the Romantics saw diversity and uniqueness . . .
Discover yourself -- express yourself, cried the Romantic artist . . . instead
of the motto, "Dare to know!" the Romantics took up the battle cry, "Dare
to be!" The Romantics were rebels and they knew it” (Kreis).
The Gothic Novel
Out of the late Romantic social climate,
the Gothic novel grew: “a new and fearful
genre for a new and fearful time. A
crumbling way of life emerges as a
crumbling and haunted Gothic manor; the
loss of English social identity becomes the
Gothic hero or heroine's search for
identity.” (Ruotolo)
The revolutions in America and France
helped developed a culture of fear
present in society and represented in
Gothic literature-*fear of imprisonment or entrapment,
*fear of rape and personal violation,
*fear of evil triumphing over good and
chaos over order.
Gothic literature
gets its name from
the Gothic
architecture that
often makes up its
Characteristics of the Gothic Novel
 Writing
style is filled with: innovation, spontaneity,
freedom of thought and expression, idealization of
nature, etc.
 A lot of mysterious disappearances as well as other
supernatural occurrences.
 The main protagonist is usually a solitary,
egocentric character.
 Nature is used frequently to create atmosphere.
 Evoke terror.
 Show the dark side of human nature.
Scientific Research of the Time
In the Victorian period, “[s]cience begins to
dominate public discourse, and even, according
to some writers, partially displaces religion as a
coherent world view. A[n outcome] of scientific
dominance is the belief that when science
advances, so does human society: science and
progress, in other words, go hand in hand.
Through most of the Victorian Era . . . science is
not so specialized into isolated disciplines that
the ordinary, well-educated citizen cannot
follow its movements” (Drake).
Scientific Research of the Time
The Industrial Revolution led to massive leaps forward
in engineering.
Formalization of the study of science at university;
many men focused on the study of natural history.
Concept of Electricity and warmth led to the discovery
of the Galvinization process (term for current electricity
produced by Volta's battery invented in 1799)--key to
the animation of life.
Scientist Johann Konrad Dippel (1673-1734) a mad scientist
who studied human anatomy.
The late 18th century saw a revolution in Chemistry—
change from alchemy to Chemistry (atomic theory of
matter). This new theory suggested that elements
could be put together to create matter.
The Author - Mary Shelley
desire to acquire knowledge and the intense
passion for research and study is evident
throughout the novel, Frankenstein and is
demonstrated through the three narrators . . . the
narrators’ quest for new knowledge and
knowledge of origins parallel Mary Shelley's
lifelong scholarly pursuit and her interest in her
own biological origins due to her birth causing
her mother's death” (Woodbridge).
< Her Parents:
Philosopher William Godwin;
Feminist Mary Wollstonecraft
Her Husband:>
Writer Percy B. Shelley
Timeline of Mary Shelley’s Life
Aug. 30, 1797 Mary is born to well-known parents: author and feminist Mary
Wollstonecraft and philosopher William Godwin. Mary Wollstonecraft
dies giving birth to Mary.
 1813 Mary meets the young poet Percy B. Shelley, a devotee of her father`s teachings
 1816 They go to Geneva, this time spending time with Byron and his friend Polidori
 1816 William is born.
 1816 In Geneva, Byron suggests they should all write a ghost story.
Mary begins writing Frankenstein, the only story of the four that was ever published
as a novel.
 1816 Percy`s wife drowns herself; Percy and Mary marry in December.
 1818 Frankenstein
Tragedies after Frankenstein
 1819 Mary suffers a nervous breakdown after the death of William.
 1819 Percy is born; only child of Mary`s to survive childhood.
 1822 Percy Sr. drowns during a sailing trip in the Bay of Spezia.
 1822 She has a dangerous miscarriage.
 1826 She writes The Last Man, which depicts the end of human civilization.
 Feb. 1,1851 Mary Shelley dies in London, possibly of a brain tumor.
Shelley’s Purpose
As you read the novel, be sure to ask:
 Given
all of these influences on Shelley’s life,
why would she write a novel like
Frankenstein? Is it more than just a simple
ghost story?
Have fun analysing!!!!
Works Cited
“About Mary Shelley: Timeline.” Cyber Studios Inc. 2005
<> 5 Mar. 2005.
Drake, Alfred. “Romantic and Victorian Characteristics.”
Alfred J Drake.
cter.htm> 26 Mar. 2005.
Kreis, Steven. “Lecture 16: The Romantic Era.” The History Guide. 2000.
<> 26 Mar. 2005.
Ruotolo, Christine. et. al. “The Gothic: Materials for Study.” University of Virginia.
<> 5 Mar.
Woodbridge, Kim, A. “The Life of Mary Shelley.” Kim Woodbridge 2001.
<> 26 Mar. 2005