Historical/Biographical Criticism- Frankenstein (the Modern Prometheus)

Topics: Frankenstein, Romanticism, Mary Shelley Pages: 2 (799 words) Published: April 24, 2012
Historical/ Biographical Criticism-

Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, was first published anonymously January 1st, 1818. Although a work of gothic science fiction, Mary Shelly incorporated a multitude of sociological events that occurred between the late eighteen-century and the early nineteen-century; most specifically, the themes of this literary work and the characterization of the protagonist Victor Frankenstein, which integrate aspects that affected both Mary Shelly’s personal life and the European continent. Mary Shelly was born in 1797 and enjoyed a fairly happy childhood. Like her character Victor Frankenstein, she was raised with very little formal education but benefitted from frequent educational outings. As she grew older she also read to further her education and left her home to attend a boarding school. Like Victor’s grand-father Beaufort, Mary’s father faced debt and struggled to keep his daughters cared for, and, like Victor’s mother Caroline, Mary’s mother died of the flu; both Shelly and her character Victor cherished the memories of their mother. At the time when Frankenstein was written, Mary Shelly faced the loss of several children. Their premature births and subsequent deaths caused the young Mary Shelly to become very ill and depressed, a characteristic she passed on to her character Victor Frankenstein; as Mary was seemingly “haunted” by the visions of her lost infants, it is no wonder that she was able to describe, so vividly, the grotesque images encountered in Frankenstein. One must also take into account that Mary Shelly’s husband was a romantic poet, and she often edited his works. At the time of Frankenstein’s publish, the roots of Romanticism had been laid. Among the characteristic romantic attitudes were: a deep appreciation of nature, a general preference of emotion over reason and senses over intellect, an introspective evaluation of human personality and its moods and mental processes, a fixation with the “genius”,...
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