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Sanity and Insanity in Frankenstein
Transcript of Sanity and Insanity in Frankenstein
Starts out in a stable mental state
Physical effects of obsession
"I appeared rather like one doomed by slavery to toil in the mines...Every night I was oppressed by a slow fever, and I became nervous to a most painful degree; the fall of a leaf startled me, and I shunned my fellow creatures, as if I had been guilty of crime." (p. 57)
Obsession with work isolation from others
Symptoms associated with insanity, e.g. paranoia
Stressful environment has negative effects
Chapter 5 - Nightmare
"I slept, indeed, but
disturbed by the wildest dreams." (p. 59)
"I thought I saw Elizabeth, in the bloom of health, walking in the streets of Ingolstadt. Delighted and surprised, I embraced her, but as I imprinted the first kiss on her lips, they became livid with
he hue of death; her features appeared to
, and I thought that I held the corpse of
d mother in my arms; a shroud enveloped her form, and I saw the grave-worms crawling in the folds of flannel." (p. 59)
Mary Shelley and Insanity
Tragedy from the start of her life
Mother died giving birth to her
Raised by father
Own child dies from premature birth
Half-sister Fanny committed suicide
Percy's wife - suicide
Search for knowledge corrupts mental state
Edmond and Margaret
Sanity and Insanity in Frankenstein
"My parents were possessed by the very spirit of kindness and indulgence. We felt that they were not the tyrants to rule according to their caprice, but the agents and creators of the many delights which we enjoyed." (p. 39)
Chapter 5 - After creation
-Insane/mad reactions after creation of monster
-Overwhelming emotions/shock: lead to insanity
The Letters (Letter IV)
"His eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness" (p. 27)
"My limbs now tremble and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit." (p. 55)
Mental Illness/Madness in the 19th century
Growth of scientific and medical study of insanity
Madness was seen more as a social and medical problem, as opposed to 18th-century views
Madness was seen as absence of reason
18th century: madness - overindulgence of the imagination
19th century: romanticist embraced imaginative excess
Percy Bysshe Shelley - explored creative imagination and madness in poetry
Authors: either psychological realism or sensationalized madness
Chapter 6: Recovery and lingering Neurosis
Chapters 7 and 8 - Recognition
"My tale was not to announce publicly; its astounding horror would be looked upon as madness."
"One of my first duties on my recovery was to introduce Clerval to several professors of the university ...I had conceived a violent antipathy even to the name of natural philosophy" (p. 68)
"The sight of a chemical instrument would renew all the agony of my nervous symptoms. " (p. 69)
Regret turns to insanity
Volume II Chapter I
"Sleep fled from my eyes; I wandered like an evil spirit, for I had committed deeds of mischief beyond description horrible." (p. 93)
"I had been the author of unalterable evils, and I lived in daily fear lest the monster whom I had created should perpetrate some new wickedness." (p. 95)
"This idea pursued me, and tormented me at every moment from which I might otherwise have snatched repose and peace." (p. 167)
"The human frame could no longer support the agonies that I endured, and I was carried out of the room in strong convulsions." (p. 181)
Volume Three Continued
"Towards morning I was possessed by a kind of nightmare; I felt the fiend's grasp in my neck; and could not free myself from it; groans and cries rang in my ears." (p. 188)
Sign of insanity: Hallucinations
"I was unable to contain myself. It was not only joy that possessed me: I felt my flesh tingle with excess sensitiveness, and my pulse beat rapidly." (p. 62)
"He saw a wildness in my eyes for which he could not account; and my loud, unrestrained, heartless laughter frightened and astonished him." (p. 62)
Recognizes that others must view him as insane
Accepts the madness of his story
"Such a declaration would have been considered the ravings of a madman" (p. 83)
"At length he spoke, in broken accents...'Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught?'" (p. 29)
"Memory brought madness with it; and when I thought of what had passed, a real insanity possessed me; sometimes I was furious and burnt with rage; sometimes low and despondent." (p. 194)
Frankenstein. N.d. Frankenstein Art Collection. Web. 18 Jan. 2015.
Uzcategui, Luis. "Frankenstein." Behance. CAPA, n.d. Web. 20 Jan. 2015.
"Madness in 19th Century Literature." Enotes.com. Enotes.com, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.
Jeter, Garrett. "Scholarly Review: William Walling, Mary Shelley." Mary Shelley. Wikia, n.d. Web. 14 Jan. 2015.
"Frankenstein". Shelley, Mary.
What is Insanity?
Insanity. n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, cannot conduct her/his affairs due to psychosis, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.