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The Influence of Mary Shelley's parents on

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Danielle Shewfelt

on 1 June 2015

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Transcript of The Influence of Mary Shelley's parents on

William and Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft were both:
influential authors
activist and risk-taking
engaged to social non-conformity
Mary Wollstonecraft-Godwin
symbol of equality
intellectual inheritance
Shelley's maternal-associated angst
Shelley's dependance on her fathers works
The Vindication of the Rights of Women
Godwin's academic life in Frankenstein:
The Influence of Mary Shelley's parents on
by Christiane Boudreau
and Danielle Shewfelt

A Brief Biography:
William Godwin
Mary Wollstonecraft
raised in a financially unstable home dominated by domestic abuse and alcoholism
shielding and consoling her mother
inspiration for a passion of intellectual life
constantly denied the right to further her education
decided to support herself as a professional writer of political and philosophical issues, such as the inherent rights of woman and of man
The absence of strong women in the story suggests the fact that Mary Shelley felt an absence of a mother-figure and role-model throughout her life
Father of philosophical anarchism
born into a family of religious Dissenters (a member of a non-established church; a Nonconformist).
earned a living as a writer, producing a series of historical and educational works,
In 1797 Godwin married Mary Wollstonecraft. Their daughter Mary was born in August that year, but Mary Wollstonecraft died soon after the birth.
Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont, who had already had two children, Charles and Jane (later Claire)
He continued to write books of all kinds, producing histories, essays and novels
Father gave her a "higher intellectual experience" than most women in that time period
Elizabeth is orphaned
Expression of guilt through Victor, as he is unable to come to term with his feminine side
Justine lacks the ability to communicate without the help of a dominant male
Caroline Beaufort dies of the scarlet fever because she is too motherly
She was not the well-known scholar and reader that both Godwin and Shelley were.

We see that Victor is afraid of his bride because she is, at two separate times, presented as a monstrosity
Nightmare - transformed into the corpse of his dead mother
Honeymoon - fear of sexual relationships and loss of control
William Godwin always used the first person narrator.

Many of the characters in both of the authors works have similar traits:
"thirst for knowledge"
every major male character of Godwin's carry out a crime caused by his own righteous self-love.

Frankenstein passion for knowledge but his devotion came from his desire to bring honor and glory to himself
In William's St. Leon , the protagonist's favorite hobby was conducting scientific experiments
One of his experiments included him mixing the elixir of life
Victor, during his early years of study, searched for "the philospher's stone" and the elixir of life, but soon abandoned them
Mary Shelley speaks of the lack of feminine acceptance and inspiration that she had to go through growing up. Then, she warns against the effect of an imbalance between the male and female self.
Godwin and Mary made extensive use of "literary foils"
Henry Clerval
total contrast to Frankenstein’s personality, it develops his own character indirectly
Godwin and Mary drew from their personal experiences with each other.
Marry Wollstonecraft argues the concept of giving equal rights and education to both men and women and fights against the passivity of women's democratic and educational standing
the creatures biggest downfall is caused by the political resources that he finds and educates himself with, he learns from the examples men and inequality
the DeLacey family is Shelley's input on what a social group should resemble, they promote Wollstonecraft's opinion of sexual equality, justice and mutual affection that should reign
Wollstonecraft suggests that men were afraid to give women ANY power in fear that women would eventually take control, so they continued to objectify women and making them comply to man in order to keep the power
a prime rime example of this female passivity: Elizabeth is ignored by Victor for two months and still accepts to marry him
Safie is the incarnation of Mary Wollstonecraft in the novel:
she leaves the reader under the impression that what society lacks is feminine independence and intellect
With the death of Shelley, Mary looked chiefly to Godwin for her inspiration--and to the memory of Shelley and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft. Her writing career was developed primarily under the guiding hand of her father and emphasized by the writings of her mother. The book endorses the feminist views of Mary Shelley’s mother in the intricate characters and details from her father’s narratives. As a classical novel, it pulls ties from many different areas of intellect making it universal to every reader.

"I cannot be assured of
exactly what I created
be it madness and monster
or beauty and light,
but I tried to apply both
what I have learned
and read and observed
and that which
I can only imagine
and think and dream"
Exert from "The Book" by Mary Shelley
Both parents believed that the downfall of society during the French Revolution would've been avoided, had we omitted these two factors.
Frankenstein creature is inherently good
he reflects on the inequality of society - poverty and class system
his initial feelings are for love of all beings
Mary Shelley conveys the message that human beings are taught to be bad, and that it is impossible for the oppressed to become virtuous citizens
Prejudice and Social Class
-Hemphill, p.174
However, remained compassionate for the women; saying it was but a result of their lack of education
In Frankenstein, the motif of abortion is recurring for the disgust of the monster:
Victor is the "mother" - he experiences symptoms of both an unhealthy pregnancy and post-pregnancy depression
symbolizes the need for male control over the female body because of the hostility associated to potential power of the female reproductive system
Mary Wollstonecraft's Beliefs Regarding Abortion
Women...sacrificing to lasciviousness the parental affection...either destroy the embryo in the womb, or cast if
off when born. Nature in every thing demands respect, and those who violate her laws seldom violate them with impunity.
- A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792).

they’re designed or intended to teach people something about life.
Most of the tones taken in all of their works of fiction are didactic
They were also strongly attracted to, and used, a lot of Jungian archetypes
She did not need and explanation before she felt benevolence for her peers, nor would she need it for her characters.
Mary’s philosophy concerning reason and benevolence (acts of kindness) differ from her father’s
some people react quite negatively to Godwin in public; even though he is greatly admired, he is also rejected by many.

The monster is Godwin himself
Godwin’s objection of Mary and Percy Shelley’s love and him trying to prevent an elopement

Victor destroys the monster’s mate in front of him, fearing their offspring what may come from them
He later found copies of three of Godwin’s favorite books:
Paradise Lost
, a volume of
Plutarch’s Lives
, and T
he Sorrows of Werter
the monster was able to learn history, politics and government
Volney’s Ruins of Empires
( a favorite of both Shelley and Godwin)
she is juxtaposed to the other female characters in the novel, who are very passive
she revels against conformity all the while suggesting humanitarian values
she is appalled by both her fathers betrayal of Felix and the Islamic oppressions of women that he endorses
His violent "abortion" of the female creature
The "denial" of his child: saying he's a mistake and the monster begins to believe he is a mistake
She explained that abortion was but the effect of male oppression, as the ultimate exploitation of women and sexual objectification: used to repress and silence women

Bennett, Betty T. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley: An Introduction. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins UP, 1998. Print.
Dickerson, Vanessa D. "The Ghost of a Self: Female Identity in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein." J Popular Culture The Journal of Popular Culture 27.3 (1993): 79-91. Web. 23 May 2015.
Hemphill, Stephanie. Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein. United States of America: HarperCollins, 2013. Print.
Mellor, Ann K. "A Summary of Possessing Nature the Female in Frankenstein Written by Anne K. Mellor - Term Paper - Autumnsky1." StudyMode. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 May 2015. <http://www.studymode.com/essays/a-Summary-Of-Possessing-Nature-The- 941243.html>.
Patterson, Paul. "A Frankenstein FAQ, Question 1." Literature. Watershed Online, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015. <http://www.watershedonline.ca/literature/frankenstein/faq1.html>.
Powers, Katherine R. "Trace: Tennessee Research and Creative Exchange." "The Influence of William Gowin on the Novels of Mary Shelley" University of Tennessee, 1972. Web. 31 May 2015. <http://trace.tennessee.edu/utk_graddiss/1599>.
"Things as They Are; Or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Things_as_They_Are;_or,_The_Adventures_of_Caleb_Wil liams>.
"A Vindication of the Rights of Woman – Ch 11." A Vindication of the Rights of Woman – Ch 11. Ed. Amy E. Zeylmer, Col Choat, and Sue Asscher. Project Gutenberg, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015. <https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/wollstonecraft- mary/1792/vindication-rights-woman/ch11.htm>.
"William Godwin." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Godwin>.
Wollstonecraft, Mary. "Abortion (1500-1900)." - Wikiquote. Wikiquote, n.d. Web. 21 May 2015. <http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Abortion_(1500-1900)>.
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