Victorian England Essay
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How does Mary Shelley’s description of the setting and her use of language on chapter 5 represent the social and historical context of Victorian England? ‘Frankenstein’ is a novel about change, science, revenge and creation. The inventor and scientist, Mr Victor Frankenstein, creates a creature from old body parts and using science. The creature is meant to be beautiful but when it is finally brought to life, it disgusts and terrifies Victor, he runs away. The monster then escapes and starts to terrorise Victor’s family and his creator.
Victor’s friend then and fellow scientist Henry Clerval arrives to stay with him. They go back to Victor’s apartment where they discover the monster has gone. He has an emotional meltdown and collapses, having to be looked after and nursed back to health by Clerval. In spring he becomes well and decides to return to visit his family. Victor receives a letter to say that his brother has been killed, he then realises that the monster had murdered him and sets off to search for him.
When he finds him, the monster admits to the murder and begs for forgiveness, telling Victor that he is lonely monster. Victor starts to create a female but realises that this new creature will terrorise the world too, and destroys her. The monster sees this and plans for a revenge by killing Victor’s wife on her wedding day. He kills Henry Clerval, and then Victor’s new wife, Elizabeth. Victor is furious and plans for a revenge and starts searching for the monster. Whilst searching for the monster, Victor falls ill and has to be rescued by a man named Dr Walton.
He tells the story of his creation, but dies soon afterwards. Dr Walton is later surprised to find the monster crying over his creator’s body. The monster says that he has had a miserable and lonely life, and now that his creator’s dead he can die too. This novel would have frightened and fascinated Victorian readers, due to the change in science, religion and the technology. Victorian readers would have been confused enough with there way of living but having read this novel and a monster being created by science and not through a natural birth would have confused them.
Therefore they would be fascinated but terrified that the novel may be true. Mary Shelley had many reasons for writing this novel. She had a bet with Lord Byron along with her husband Percy Shelley to write a short scary story. In the Victorian era women were considered as uneducated, however she won the competition, thus proving that she was just as equal to men, she was very proud to have beaten two men. There are also many autobiographical quotes included in the novel. As a child Shelley lost her mother and later on she lost a child of her own.
Therefore the creation of a new creature may have been both a way to recreate her mother and daughter, there are a couple of quotes in the novel which explains this tragedy, such as “I held the corpse of my dead mother in my arms” which tells you about her mother dieing and also “I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing” as her husbands ex-wife tried committing suicide and there was an attempt to jump start her with a spark of electricity. This was what happened in the novel when brining the monster to life.