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Introduction to Frankenstein

A breif introduction to Frankenstein

Darragh Spiewak

on 16 September 2014

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Transcript of Introduction to Frankenstein

by Mary Shelley
What is a frame narrative?
The Monster tells
a story to Victor
Who tells that story
to Walton ?
Who tells that story to his sister?
The death and writings of her mother
Death - child, half sister, and Percy Shelley's wife
Scientific progress
Galvanism: the reanimation
of dead tissue with electricity
Some more helpful terms
Gothic novel: writing involving
mystery,horror, and the

A story within
a story

Allusions in Frankenstein:
Paradise Lost
Rime of the Ancient Mariner (poem)
Myth of Prometheus
And the following...
Mary Wollstonecraft
Prometheus became a figure who represented human striving, particularly the quest for scientific knowledge, and the risk of overreaching or unintended consequences. A Titan, culture hero, and trickster figure who, in Greek mythology, is credited with the creation of man from clay and the theft of fire for human use, an act that enabled progress and civilization. He is known for his intelligence, and as a champion of mankind
When an electrical current is applied to lifeless frog legs, the legs will cause the legs to move upward
its function "was to illustrate a significant continuity of meaning between cultural phenomena that seemed as diverse as pagan superstitions, Catholic theology, Aristotelian science, and contemporary philological theory, to name only a few of the work's ostentatiously present materials."
The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man: the temptation of Adam and Eve by the fallen angel Satan and their expulsion from the Garden of Eden. Milton's purpose, stated in Book I, is to "justify the ways of God to men".
Victor Frankenstein
18 when she wrote it; 21 when she published it.
Shelley's mother, Wollstonecraft, was a prominent feminist writer. She was an independent, self- sufficient intellectual. Her feminist writings and sexual freedoms greatly influenced Mary.
Fanny, her half sister, and Percy Shelley's wife (yes he was cheating with a much younger Mary(Godwin) Shelley) both committed suicide. Finally, Mary marries Percy Shelly (bc wife died)- after all of this their relationship is strained. Then Percy dies in a freak boating accident.
Mary, her daughter, never knew her mother; Wollstonecraft died shortly after giving birth to Mary. Puerperal Fever- an infection caused during childbirth. Mary spent her life somewhat "obsessed" with her mother's legacy and desperately craved maternal affection.
Davy's theory: Nature is Female

Erasmus Darwin: Early theory on evolution; sexual reproduction is higher on the evolutionary ladder than asexual reproduction
The letters at the beginning of the novel help to "set the stage for the novel"
a sub category of Romanticism
First Science Fiction piece
Romantic Literature:
Sought solitude in nature, key to healing can be found there. Writers were turning towards nature as an escape from the harsh realities of their world (French revolution, reign of terror, Napoleon).
In addition to losing her mother, Mary (Godwin) Shelley's nanny was fired because Mr. Godwin (her dad) disapproved of the company she kept. Mr. Godwin remarried within a year of his wife's death, and brought two children to live with Mary, Franny (1/2 sister) and Mr. Godwin. Much tension between Mary and her step mother ensued.

Mary spent much time reading and listening to her father's friends discuss philosophy and science.
Her dad never gave her the fatherly love she craved.
At 14 she went to Scotland to live with admirers of her father.
She finally felt like part of a family.
Same year met a leading Romatic Poet Percy Shelley.
Moved back home at age 16
Met up with Percy( yes she is 16). They profess their love (despite his being married). They run away together.
Father disowns her, she gives birth the following year, the baby dies, she has reoccuring dreams about bringing the baby back to life, Percy Shelley unaffected.
A year later- baby #2
Allusion: a reference (in writing)
to a work of art, piece of
literature, mythology, or Biblical
story or character.
Full transcript