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Frankenstein Background Information
Transcript of Frankenstein Background Information
Setting the Path for Horror Movies cotd. Gothic Literature Traits Romantic Literature Traits Gothic Literature Traits Romantic Literature Traits Mary Shelley’s Life: Birth Feminist Lens (19th Century): Application to Mary Shelley Historical Lens (19th Century): Major British Events Historical Lens Born August 30, 1797 in London
Mother: Mary Wollstonecraft
Famous feminist writer
Died ten days after giving Shelley’s birth
Father: William Godwin; famous for writing "An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice" (1793)
London was transformed into the world's largest city, its population increasing from 1 million to 6.7 million in a century
1853: Smallpox vaccination is required in Britain
Mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was the foremost feminist thinker of her generation
Wollstonecraft remembered today for her "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman"
Shelley's parents adhered to revolutionary principles both in politics and in private life
Largely centered on the individual, intuition, and imagination
Featured a reliance on “natural” feelings as a conduct guide over controlled rationality.
Featured rebellion and revolution, especially:
Freedom from oppression
Margaret Drabble described it as taking place “roughly between 1770 and 1848”
Setting is at the service of plot (exotic people inexotic settings, doing strange things) An ancient prophecy, usually confusing or obscure, is connected with the castle or its inhabitants
A character may have a disturbing dream vision
Supernatural events occur, such as ghosts walking or inanimate objects coming to life
Mad Scientist: Protagonist Victor Frankenstein (creates the creature and is in pursuit of knowledge no matter what the cost)
Great/Terrible Parent: Victor (the monster is a victim of bad parenting because of his wrongdoings)
Rejected Child: Monstrous creature which Victor creates
Damsel in Distress: Elizabeth (represents the “angel-in-the-house” archetype)
Established horror movie character archetypes: Monstrous creature, victim, mad scientist, damsel in distress, etc.
Indicated that blasphemous ideas would generally not be accepted after Frankenstein's line, "Now I know what it feels like to be God!", was cut in the film
The metonymy of gloom and horror is established for horror films
Features high, even overwrought emotion, common of modern-day horror films
Includes women in distress to appeal to the pathos and sympathy of the reader (now common in horror films)
Ruiqi He Background Information Mary Shelley’s Life: Marriage Met Percy Bysshe Shelley in 1812
Had a torrid and controversial romance
Ran away with the already-married Percy at the age of 16
Married Percy in 1816 after his wife committed suicide Mary Shelley’s Life: Children Gave birth to a daughter (1818) and a son (1819)
Both babies died, causing her a nervous breakdown
Had a miscarriage in 1822, the year Percy drowned
Mary Shelley’s Life: Writing Self-educated writer
Published first poem at ten years of age
Continued writing a variety of literature
Influenced by famous men like Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and Percy Shelley
Most lasting achievement is Frankenstein
The tale is said to have come out of a dare by Lord Byron that she write a ghost story
Ideas were drawn from state-of-the-art medical experimentation Mary Shelley’s Life: Death Died in her sleep at the age of 54, on February 1, 1851
Cause: Believed to be a brain tumor
Resting place: Saint Peter's Churchyard/Bournemouth Cemetery in Bournemouth, Dorset, England Mary Shelley's Life Historical Lens (19th Century): Industrial Revolution Industrial Revolution fueled the creation of modern capitalist system. Now commonly found:
Large-scale stock markets
Britain led the way in this transformation
Historical Lens (19th Century):Major Events cotd. Feminist Lens (19th Century):Role of Women Women had no suffrage rights, no rights to sue, and no rights to own property
Women participated in the paid workforce in increasing numbers
In the Victorian Era’s last years:
Feminist ideas spread among educated female middle classes
Discriminatory laws repealed
Women's suffrage movement gained momentum War of 1812 resolved many issues from the American War of Independence
Slavery abolished 1833 by British Parliament
Feminist Lens (19th Century):Mary Shelley’s Romantic Affairs Father married Mary Jane Clairmont, who favored her own children over Shelley
Percy Shelley, twenty-two, had a wife with two children, but he and Shelley, like Godwin and Wollstonecraft, believed that ties of the heart were more important than legal ones.
Mary ran away with Percy to Europe at age sixteen Feminist Lens Romantic Literature Traits Featured unusual personnages (i.e. bandits, homicides, gypsies, avengers, devils) the supernatural, the mystical, the “gothic,” and the exotic
Emphasis on introspection, psychology, melancholy, and sadness
Often dealt with death, transience and mankind’s feelings about these
Frankenstein Themes/Concepts Dangerous Knowledge: Victor attempts to surge beyond accepted human limits and access the secret of life
Sublime Nature: The novel takes place in a grand world embraced by Romanticism
Faust Similar to Frankenstein in that a character went against God and the rules of human society to gain “forbidden knowledge”
According to classic German legend, Faust is a highly successful scholar who is dissatisfied with his life
Faust makes a pact with the Devil, exchanging his soul for unlimited knowledge and worldly pleasures.
Gothic Literature Traits Features high, even overwrought emotion
Includes women in distress to appeal to the pathos and sympathy of the reader
Women are threatened by a powerful, impulsive, tyrannical male
Shows the metonymy of gloom and horror
Frankenstein Themes/Concepts Monstrosity: The monster is the focal point of the novel. Eight feet tall and hideously ugly, the monster is rejected by society.
Secrecy: Victor interprets science as a mystery to be explored; its secrets, once discovered, must be jealously guarded
Frankenstein Themes/Concepts Science: The creation of Frankenstein's monster is presented as an unsurpassed feat of scientific discovery.
Evolution, Education, and Child Development: The growth of the monster is paralleled to the ways in which the learning and growth processes work in humans.
Gothic Literature Traits Action takes place in and around an old castle
Pervaded by a threatening feeling, a fear enhanced by the unknown.
Often the plot itself is built around a mystery
Frankenstein Themes/Concepts Golem Frankenstein wasn’t the first man-made creature in story-telling history
According to Jewish folklore, the Golem was made of clay and brought to life by a charm
Golem was a noble character and played role of protector
Removal of the charm de-animated the creature Prometheus Similar to Frankenstein in that both featured characters who pushed beyond boundaries allowed to man.
Prometheus: A Titan in Greek mythology who is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization.
Known for intelligence and as a champion of humanity
Key Terms: Doppelganger In fiction and folklore, it is a paranormal double of a living person
Also describes having glimpsed oneself in peripheral vision when there is no chance that it could have been a reflection
Regarded to be omens of death or bad luck
Frame Novel A literary technique that serves as a companion piece to a story within a story
Purpose: To set the stage
Frame story leads readers from a first story into another, smaller one (or several ones) within it
Key Terms: Allusion Figure of speech that makes a reference to people, places, events, literary work, myths, or works of art, either directly or by implication
These references should be generally well-known or widely-recognized by the audience of the literature
Symbols cotd. Yellow = Evil (the monster has yellow eyes; there is yellow moonlight)
Moon = The fact that the creature is protected by nature
Lightning = The moment of life and the energy that filled the creature with life and potential
Symbols Light = Knowledge, discovery, enlightenment
Fire = Dangerous knowledge, hurtful insight
Windows/Shutters= Borderlines that the creature couldn’t cross until he reached into Victor's life and took Elizabeth from him
Motifs Passive Women: Frankenstein lacks strong female characters.
Abortion: Both Victor and the monster lament the monster’s existence and wish that Victor had never engaged in his act of creation.
Altruism: Several humane doings are featured but aren’t appreciated (monster’s initial acts of kindness; cutting wood for Felix’s family, saving a young girl from drowning)
Loneliness and Isolation Cloning (biotechnology)
Used to create copies of DNA fragments (molecular cloning), cells (cell cloning), or organisms
Repeated replications increase amplitude of desired DNA strand
Dolly: First mammal to be cloned from an adult somatic cell DNA Recombination
Involves exchange of genetic material between chromosomes
Allows for synthetic genes to produce and express desired proteins Nuclear Weaponry
Derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion
Releases vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter
Considered weapons of mass destruction
Symbols and Motifs Allusions to Literature Modern Science Connections Nuclear Weaponry Key Terms