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Mary Shelleys Frankenstein

Mary Shelley’s FrankensteinUnbelievably Mary Shelley wrote the novel Frankenstein
at the age of eighteen. This great work captures the imaginations of its
readers. Frankenstein remains one of the greatest examples of Gothic
literature. Unlike other Gothic novels of the time, however, Frankenstein also
includes elements of Romantic writing, and therefore cannot be classified as
soley Gothic.
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was an English novelist. The daughter
of the British philosopher William Godwin and the British author and
feminist Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Born in London in 1797, Mary was
privately educated. She met the young poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in May
1814, and two months later she left England with him. When Shelley’s first
wife died in December 1816, he married Mary. Mary’s first and most
important work, the novel Frankenstein, was begun on Lake Geneva in the
summer of 1816 as her contribution to a ghost-story competition. A
remarkable accomplishment for such a young writer, Frankenstein was a
success. No other work by Mary Shelley achieved the popularity or
excellence of this first work, although she wrote four other novels, books of
travel sketches, and miscellaneous tales. In 1818 the Shelley’s left England
for Italy, where they stayed until Shelley’s death. Only one of Mary’s and
Percy’s children survived, Percy Florence, and in 1823 Mary returned to
England with him and concentrated on his education and welfare. The image
of Mary Shelley presented by the biographers suggests an intensely private,
imaginatively exuberant, yet also emotionally withdrawn figure, whose
political melancholy and strong religious faith are intriguingly at odds with
the optimistic rationalism of her famous parents, and her poet husband’s
atheistic radicalism.

The story of Frankenstein begins in the polar ice of the Arctic Circle.

The ship of an English explorer, Walton, is trapped in the ice and is unable
to travel. During the day the men on board spotted a sledge, driven by a
huge man and drawn by dogs followed by Victor Frankenstein, a man in
very poor condition. Walton nursed him back to health as the stranger told
Walton his story.
Victor Frankenstein was born in Geneva and at an early age showed
promise in the natural sciences. Victor was sent to a university when he
grew older, and that’s where he stumbled on to the secret of creating life.

With great brilliance Victor created an eight-foot monster and gave him life
through electricity.

Once Victor had realized what he had done he panicked and left the
creature. When the creature wondered into the city everyone he met
screamed and ran away. Finally the creature found a place to live in a
cottage outside the city. Through observation of the family in the cottage the
monster began to learn the ways of man. In doing so the monster longed for
friendship, but everyone he encountered was repulsed by him. This
repulsion caused the monster to become bitter and angry towards men. The
monster’s anger caused him to murder William, Victor’s brother. The
monster makes a horrible demand on Victor, to create a companion to give
the monster love and friendship. Victor did not go through with the demand,
and for punishment the monster kills Clerval, Victor’s friend and Elizabeth,
Victor’s wife. Victor vows that he will chase the monster until the
monster’s death.
Victor died in the frozen North, and the monster disappeares into the
ice field.

As the before mentioned events show the Gothic novel was a late
eighteenth-century revival of the tale of terror. One of the earliest and
best-known Gothic novels was Horace Walpole’s The Castle of Otranto , a
scary story about a castle terrorized by a giant. Another contributor to
Gothicism is Clara Reeve who wrote The Old English Barron , which she
considered to be an improvement on Walpole’s novel. Then came
Frankenstein.
The first Gothic characteristic of Frankenstein is evident in its
grotesque elements. To create life Victor had to use the bodies of dead
humans. At night Victor would secretly steal the bodies from their resting
place and take them to his chamber. Victor would take the body part from
the deceased that he needed and would cut it off. He would then attach the
part to his creation, the monster. The description of the monster at its
moment of coming alive is hideous :
His yellow skin scarcely covered the work of muscles and
arteries beneath; his hair was of lustrous black and flowing,
his teeth of a pearly whiteness; but those luxuriances only
formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes and
straight black lips.
The monster’s yellow skin, watery eyes, and