How The Monster Is Portrayed In Frankenstein Shelfield Sixth Form Essay

1532 words - 7 pages

The gothic novel Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley in 1817 but was not published until 1818. Mary Shelley was an English novelist who was married to the famous romantic poet and philosopher, Percy Bysshe Shelley. In 1816 the couple famously spent a summer together with Lord Byron, John William Polidori and Claire Clairmont near Geneva, Switzerland, where they wrote ghost stories. This is where Mary Shelley conceived the idea for Frankenstein. Mary experienced a great deal of death throughout her life. For example, her mother died of poisoning shortly after giving birth to her, 3 of her 4 children died young and she had to deal with the grief of loosing her husband, Percy and their good friend Lord Byron. With all the suffering in her life, it is not surprising that the novel contains a great deal of death. During 1818, there were multiple pandemics of the bubonic plague that wiped out huge numbers of the European population, where healthcare was very limited, though medical knowledge was developing it was still extremely basic meaning minor diseases could be fatal. This resulted in the life expectancy in the majority of Europe being no higher than 30. This could be why some characters in the novel die of unknown or fairly minor illnesses. During the 17th century, Europe had seen a number of advances in science. For example, Sir Isaac Newton was detailing his laws of motion and biologist William Harvey was finding out about the human body and its capabilities. An understanding of electricity established around 1820, meaning that people were wary of it. Many parts of Europe, such as England, were far more religious than they are now. This means that occurrences that could not be explained were viewed as either an act of god or a supernatural force. Science was beginning to break down these religious and supernatural boundaries even though some people felt that this was dangerous. The novel Frankenstein deals with the theme of dangerous knowledge. Mary Shelley’s work embodied Romanticism, which expressed itself in literature through an emphasis on the emotional, individual, and imaginative. Shelley’s Frankenstein was foremost among Romantic works that explored horror and the supernatural. Shelley's description of the monster coming to life was heavily influenced by the science of her day. Her husband, Percy, and fellow writers were fascinated by the experimental use of electricity on dead bodies, and Victor exemplifies Europe’s revived interest in science. The world was a much more unstable place in 1818. in the late 1700s, many wars and disputes were taking place due to borders and empires being established. For Mary Shelley, this must have seemed that humans were devoid of compassion for one another. This is expressed in her novel as humans are shown in this light, readily attacking and fleeing the monster.
The Monster is described as an eight-foot-tall giant Victor Frankenstein forms and brings to life. The Monster is composed of various...

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