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Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein also referred to as ‘The Modern Prometheus’ was written in the dark times of 1816. The novel indulges in the work of man playing God and the acts of galvanism; Victor Frankenstein dreams of one day being able to save the ones he loves from illness and maybe even death; but swiftly his dreams tarnish and soon turn to a horrific nightmare when his beloved monster turns on him.
Mary Shelley gets her themes and ideas across in a variety of different ways throughout the novel, such as an in depth look towards the immortal soul and the duality of self but also subconsciously Mary spilt out her own feelings into her work adding minor themes into the novel of her life and parental neglect. Even before she was born, Mary Shelley was destined to become one of the most prominent figures in English literature.
Both her parents were revolutionaries and writers: Her father William Godwin was an English journalist and novelist and one of the major proponents of anarchist philosophy Mary’s mother Mary Wollstonecraft on the other hand was renowned as being one of the earliest feminists. Shelley’s life and times effected how she illustrates the birth of Frankenstein’s monster in an immeasurable way. The environment and time Shelley grew up in really does have a huge impact on the novel due to the techniques she uses and in the way she uses her language.
A vast amount of scientific breakthroughs were made at this time helping dub the early 1800’s as ‘The Age of Enlightenment’. Shelley arguably has many monumental events in her life, but in my opinion none bigger the visit to Lord Byron’s house which sparked her enthusiasm for this epic novel. She was originally given a task (along with a few other people) to individually come up with something more teeth chattering and nail biting than his poem. Shelley managed to come up with what we now know as chapter five of the novel or more commonly referred to as the birth of Frankenstein.
The gothic text used in this novel is very relevant to Mary’s life at this early stage; she is right in the midst of a very dark time where unnatural practices are taking place. As well as her life and times Shelley’s parental neglect also manages to tangle itself into this colossal web of a novel. As many people well know Shelley grew up in a much upheld household but suffered from relentless disregard. Although she was cast aside for many things, she was brought into all the family discussions which at this time where souly based around the graphic and gruesome public displays of galvanism.
This clearly had a major impact of Mary’s novel as a whole “I might infuse a spark of being into this lifeless thing. ” This directly links towards the acts of galvanism but not only that, if you submerse yourself deeper into Shelley’s life it can also be linked towards her nightmare where she dreamt she has a stillborn which she had to rub and rub constantly to get it too live and breathe. Another thing that struck me is where the monster held is arms out like a little child would to there mum its said “Oh!
No mortal could support the horror of that countenance. ” Which shows Victor basically brushing him aside and running like the coward that he is? This is another major notch on the belt of Mary Shelley’s subconscious parental neglect. On top of all that the major theme in the novel is the brutality and fact of the immortal soul. Mary Shelley constantly questions the prospect of the soul all the way throughout the novel from start to finish, which really does help give the reader a very influential and emotional response.
Gothic text also goes very much hand in hand with the pathetic – fallacy and juxtaposition to give back a sort of airy feel to it, using words like “wretched”, “Bed Chamber” and having the colours black and white place so closely together they almost contrast each other right on the page. These words and techniques really do give you a clear indication of the sort of time this novel was written. Dante’s Inferno (a poem about sins and the seven circles of hell) also is placed into the novel to help get the readers true reaction to what they are reading; “it became a thing such as even Dante could not have conceived.
” This also relates to the soul due to the way Dante had his major beliefs of the good and bad sides of the soul and what happens to them. After all that Shelley also manages to create a void and show how the duality of self effects the book. In dictionary the duality of self is described as “the composition of two parts” whether it be the body and soul or the fact Frankenstein’s monster is joined together by many different body parts; “Catching and fearing each sound as if it were to announce the approach of the demonical corpse which I had so miserably given life.
” The point I’m trying to make is that in the novel the duality is shown in a vast amount of ways, and the main way is how the monster is treated less than something you would step in words like “the wretch” used over and over help get the point across very well, Victor sees the monster as inhuman, heartless and that it has no soul. Overall it’s clear to see that Shelley has got all the ingredients for the perfect novel: the language, themes, techniques, man playing god, duality of self and the immortal soul all executed flawlessly.
She shows throughout her fantastic novel the there is still a little mystery in the world, and this is a key reason why she is one of the most idolised women in gothic fiction. With the discovery of DNA and cloning pressing the issues in the world today, this novel can relate to them hands down which really shows this novel can withstand the test of time.
In all of Frankenstein’s attempts to disregard the monster and his responsibilities to the beast as his creator, the monster punishes Frankenstein in the forms of murder, illness, and disruption in Victor’s life. The consequences to man’s attempt to master life and death are evident and the monster symbolizes the unpredictable element to controlling human life. Man is frequently too preoccupied with the possibility of creating life to realize the responsibility and results consequential to generating what could be a monster.