The following entry presents criticism of Shelley's novel Frankenstein See also, Mathilda Criticism. When Mary Shelley wrote of Victor Frankenstein and his monster, she brought to life a story that would fascinate audiences through the ensuing centuries.
Although the story seems "classic" to readers and movie-goers at the end of the twentieth century, Shelley's novel was something of an anomaly when she published it anonymously in The genre of science fiction did not yet exist, and novels themselves were often looked upon as "light" reading that did not rank with serious literature.
In the twentieth century, however, Frankenstein has gained recognition as a pioneering effort in the development of the novel and as a progenitor of science fiction. Frankenstein was Shelley's first major literary production, completed when she was not yet twenty.
Her life up to that point had been shaped by the presence of powerful intellectual figures: Mary grew up without a formal education—a situation typical for girls in her era—but with the formidable training of her parents' writings and the many classics available to her in her father's library.
Because Wollstonecraft had died ten days after Mary's birth, Godwin raised her and her half-sister alone at first, then with a stepmother who apparently cared very little for the two girls. Mary escaped her home life in July , when she eloped with Percy Shelley, who deserted his wife in order to be with her. With little money at their disposal, the pair travelled the continent, living primarily in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. At the time Mary began writing Frankenstein in , the couple's financial difficulties were exacerbated by personal loss: The one child who would survive was born in , just three years before Percy Shelley drowned in Italy.
Shelley wrote Frankenstein as a series of framing narratives: The events described by the creature which Shelley composed first appear within Victor Frankenstein's narrative, which in turn appears in a letter written by Captain Robert Walton—an explorer who met Frankenstein in the North Pole—to his sister. Consequently, the reader's experience begins at the end of the drama, when Frankenstein and his monster have removed themselves from human society and are pursuing each other in perpetuity across the tundra.
Walton then relates Frankenstein's story, which returns to his childhood, when Victor developed his initial interest in science. Some years later, Victor's planned departure for University is delayed when his mother dies; Frankenstein's interest in science simultaneously turns to the possibility of reanimating the dead. Working in comparative isolation at the University, Frankenstein pursues his obsession until he succeeds—bringing to life a pieced-together body.
He immediately flees his creation in horror. Entirely isolated, fully grown but without any guidance in its social and intellectual development, the creature makes its own way in the world; his story, told in the first-person as related to Victor some time later, occupies the center of the novel. The reader witnesses the gradual degradation of what began as an apparently good and loving nature.
Because the creature's monstrous appearance inspires horror wherever he encounters humans, his potential for goodness falters, especially when Frankenstein fails to supply him with the companionship of a mate. Turning vindictive, the creature sets out to recreate for Victor the isolation of his own circumstances, gradually killing the members of his family, including Elizabeth, the beloved adopted sister who has just become Victor's wife. The two characters finish "wedded" to one another, or to the need to destroy one another, in the emptiness of the arctic tundra.
The issue that occupies Frankenstein most prevalently and explicitly is that of creation, manifested in a variety of forms. Shelley signalled the significance of this to her reader from the start with her subtitle and her epigraph: The three characters invoked by these allusions—Prometheus, Lucifer, and Adam—share a history of rebellion, of a desire to "steal" some of the godly fire of life or knowledge for themselves.
Shelley reflects the many layers of this mythology in her own rendering with the temptation and power Frankenstein finds in knowledge, as well as the danger that surfaces once it becomes apparent that he has either misused his knowledge or overstepped his bounds in acquiring it.
With the rise of feminist and psychoanalytic literary criticism late in the twentieth century, another aspect of the creation theme surfaced: Viewed in this light, Frankenstein has usurped the prerogative of creation not from god, but from woman, and has thus tampered with the laws of nature and social organization.
Generally, this approach to the novel critiques traditional gender roles and the bourgeois family as depicted in Frankenstein. The novel abounds in depictions of different familial relationships, particularly when read in light of Shelley's family history: Fundamental to the novel's two main characters, despite the extreme differences in family relationships, are the stories of their intellectual and emotional development, which resonate deeply within the era in which Shelley wrote.
The nature of the human individual, the nature of that individual's development, the basic issue of inherent goodness or evil, concerned many artists and thinkers of the Romantic age. Frankenstein immediately became popular upon its publication, when it fit neatly into the current fashion for the Gothic novel, a genre abounding in mystery and murder. It would be some time before critics would look at Shelley's novel—or any novel—as a serious work of literature; initial critical attention often reduced Frankenstein to an aside to the work of her husband and the other Romantic poets.
The first significant shift in critical reception occurred in the middle of the twentieth century, when major critics like Harold Bloom and M. Goldberg took it up with enthusiasm, exploring its Promethean and Miltonic echoes. Readers generally understood the novel as an evocation of the modern condition: While most Frankenstein criticism has stressed the importance of Shelley's biography as a reflection upon the work, the approach has been central to psychoanalytic and feminist critics.
The latter led a resurgence in Shelley criticism in the early s, discovering in her work not only one of the earliest literary productions by a woman author, but also a source of rich commentary on gender roles and female experience at the beginning of the nineteenth century. At first, the biographical emphasis tended to reduce Shelley's creative and intellectual achievement to an effect of postpartum depression, experienced when she lost one of her babies immediately after giving birth.
Later critics explored more and more aspects of Shelley's familial relationships, often considering her novel as a reflection of complex oedipal conflicts, or finding in her an early and rich feminist voice. Shelley briefly recounts her biography, with an emphasis on her intellectual development and the events that led to the "waking dream" in which she first envisioned Victor Frankenstein and his creature.
The Publishers of the Standard Novels, 1 in selecting Frankenstein for one of their series, expressed a wish that I should furnish them with some account of the origin of the story. I am the more willing to comply, because I shall thus give a general answer to the question, so very frequently asked me—"How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?
It is not singular that, as the daughter of two persons of distinguished literary celebrity, I should very early in life have thought of writing. It becomes a murderer whose main goal is to revenge.
The creature avenges for having been abandoned by his creator and left all alone in the hostile world that cannot let him simply exist and have somebody to love. Obviously, the creature did not begin its life as a monster but became one after Victor Frankenstein rejected it and refused to realize that he has to take care of this creature from now and forever and be responsible.
The creature was born a defenseless being into the world. It was simply born and tried to see the person who made him come, the one who needed him and loved him. But when it saw the world did not see anybody who at least gave him an arm to stand up. He was scared of what he had created and ran away from his creature, leaving it all alone and hurt. Victor Frankenstein made the first step into making the Creature a real monster by running away from it, not even welcoming it into this world.
Victor ran away for the Creature was ugly, but the Creature did not have any cruel intentions for being as a newborn it was evil-free. The Creature did not do anything bad. All it did was it came into the world, or it would be more honest to elaborate that it did not come on its own will but was brought to life. He came looking for love and the first thing he met was rejection. How does it feel for any living being to be rejected?
The Creature ran away and tried to turn to other people. It did not want anything bad but simply attention and support. Nevertheless, his appearance made people feel disgust and everybody tried to hurt him.
The Creature could not understand why it was treated so cruelly and suffered so much. It was completely isolated and nobody cared for this living being who wanted to be loved so desperately! Such suffering and constant refection turned the Creature into a real monster and the revengeful murderer of little William. The creature was not born a monster but the scorn of men made him one. Everyone he turned to hated him, hated for nothing. Be gone, vile insect!
Fiend that thou art!
- Frankenstein: Narratives of Seduction The following essay is concerned with the frame structure in Mary Shelley`s Frankenstein and its’ functions as it is suggested by Beth Newman`s "Narratives of seduction and the seduction of narratives".
Essays about Frankenstein, Mary Shelley, English Literature, and the Romantic Movement.
Frankenstein essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Frankenstein is regarded one of the best Gothic novels because it beautifully and artistically blends the natural philosophy, scientific spirit of 19th century, Mary Shelley's own literary influences and her individual vision and literary craft.
Mary Shelley's Frankenstein represents one of Gothic literature's most commonly studied works of fiction. Contemporary students from around the world are frequently assigned term papers and essays critically analyzing the characters, themes, and literary elements of Frankenstein. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley essay. Introduction: Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is a book with a deep message that touches to the very heart.