Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein Essay
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Tragedy followed them: of their four children, only one lived very long. Then in 1822, aged just thirty, Mary’s husband drowned when on a cruise with her husband, his ship having capsized due to a summer storm. Mary’s life was effectively over: even though she lived for another thirty years, her flame never again burned as brightly as it had done in the company of her husband. She pursued to live as a professional writer until her death in 1851.
Mary was constantly tormented in life by death and depression, which may have led her to write ‘Frankenstein’.
Frankenstein is a book about man’s thirst for knowledge, about the way he is not satisfied unless he knows all the wonders of the world. In many cases, this can lead to the destruction of a man’s soul, as it did to Victor Frankenstein. His quest to learn the secrets of heaven and earth ended in disaster. The monster was the embodiment of evil, bringing death and destruction wherever it laid foot. It brought death to Frankenstein’s family, in a pure quest for revenge. Symbolic of most evil, the monster was manmade. In many ways Mary Shelley’s life can be compared to that of Victor Frankenstein’s.
Mary must have felt that wherever she went, evil followed, as those closest to her were snatched away. She portrayed this in Frankenstein as Victor’s family was destroyed by the monster, symbolic of the evil she felt followed her. Mary’s marriage is also represented in Frankenstein. Mary’s marriage to Percy Shelley was the happiest time of her life before he was killed. In the same way, Victor’s marriage to Elizabeth was the only joy he had felt in a long time, when just as suddenly she was murdered by the monster, again symbolising the evil that Mary felt killed her husband.
Mary also describes very vividly the pain that Victor felt, leading us to believe that she must have felt the same pain and agony. She reveals this in many situations such as the quotes, ‘the overflowing misery I now felt, and the excess of agitation that I endured rendered me incapable of any exertion’ and, ‘a fiend had snatched from me every chance of future happiness; no creature had ever been so miserable as I was’. The ending of the story was that the death of Victor Frankenstein led the monster to believe that his work was done, and so the monster burned himself to death.
The creation had ironically led to the death of the creator. Mary believed that in the event of a man’s demise, the evil inside him dies as well. Frankenstein contains a sad ending, with the destruction of a whole family due to a man’s insatiable quest for knowledge. Mary’s life also consisted of a sad ending, in which she was never as happy as she was when with her husband. She died a lonely death, without her loved ones surrounding her, the same fate shared by Victor Frankenstein. The monster in Frankenstein can be compared to the beast in Lord of the Flies. There are both similarities and differences.
In both novels, the idea of a monster/beast represents the pure manifestation of evil. Mutually they lead to the destruction and death of those around them. They are equally spawned from the mind and hands of humans. They both originally spring from the minds of humans. To explain, in Lord of the Flies is the imagination of the boys representing evil, and in Frankenstein it is Victor’s wild imagination and thirst for intellect that leads to the creation of the monster. However, this can also be viewed as a particular dissimilarity. In Frankenstein, the monster is bodily real and physically inflicts harm on Victor’s family.
However in Lord of the Flies the beast is just as deadly and evil, but is inside the children’s minds. William Golding was born in Cornwall in 1911. His family was progressive and it was the first source of influence for Golding’s talent. He studied physics and English literature at Marlboro and Oxford University of England. From the first years of his life, he faced the atrocities of war. Fuelled with stories his parents related to him about the first war, he took part in the second great war by joining the British Navy at 1940. After the war, William became a teacher at a boys school in Salisbury. Here, he started to act as a writer.
He observed many children in their natural environment, and must have witnessed the negative side of a child’s nature countless number of times. This led him to write Lord Of The Flies which was his first published book. William Golding lived through the two biggest wars in history. During his time in the Navy, he had a constant reminder of the evil and brutality in the hearts of men. He saw countless lives lost around him, some belonging to his friends. It had been revealed to him that the pure evil inside a man can start world wars. This, along with his teaching experiences, was his incentive to write Lord Of The Flies.
After surviving the war, he saw during his teaching that children were not bereft of evil either. Combining these two topics he wrote Lord Of The Flies, the conflict between humanity’s innate barbarism and the civilizing influence of reason. In the book, he portrays Jack as the embodiment of evil. It is Jack’s thirst for power that causes the breakdown of civilisation. In this way, Jack can be compared to Hitler. Jack did not want to stop murdering until the whole of Ralph’s group were killed. In the same way, Hitler did not want to stop until the world was rid of Jews.
Jack’s tribe wore face paint whereas Hitler and the Nazis wore the sign of the Swastika on their arms. Jack is aided in his quest of destruction by Roger, who can be compared to the Nazis. Roger also represents pure evil and wrongness, moreso even than Jack. He derived sadistic pleasure from torturing pigs and the other boys on the island. Similarly, the Nazis tortured the Jews from which they obtained a sick sense of fulfilment. Roger is one of Jack’s most loyal helpers, and gladly carries out his orders, in the same manner the Nazis obeyed Hitler. The ending of the novel can be interpreted in two different ways.
The first would be to interpret that William Golding does actually have a positive outlook on life and believes that the end of life will be a happy one. This can be portrayed as the naval officer who has come to end the evil and escape the boys from the clutches of death, and thus the arrival of authority seems like a happy and ironic ending. However if one digs deeper it is just a continuation from one war to another. Once all the boys get on the Navy cruiser, they’ll most likely just be subjected to more battle and fighting, this time on a worldwide level, due to the war taking place in the outside world.
To conclude, the common theme in both novels was the evil in man. Both authors had their own experiences that led them to believe that evil resides amongst all of us. They both took their experiences and portrayed them in novels filled with symbolism. Mary Shelley believed that evil is constantly around us, and that no-one can escape. She believed that man has an evil inside of him so powerful that it can lead to the destruction of his own soul. William Golding’s understanding was that every man is born with evil inside him.
He didn’t believe in man’s innocence after the second world war. He found that even children are not innocent, saying, ‘No one is innocent until the society and the way of his life make him to pretend that he’s innocent. But sometimes, when a man is facing a difficult situation then he will probably show his other nature, the dark and guilty nature. ‘ Shyam Kanabar Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Mary Shelley section.