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Unformatted text preview: Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
The True Creator of Frankenstein Mary's early life Born August 30, 1797 in London Daughter of two great intellectual rebels of the 1790's William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft Mother died 11 days after she was born, left in care of father who was grieving. Young writer By age nineteen, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley had written Frankenstein Embodies one of the central myths of Western culture, the novel tells the story of an avid scientist who brings to life the monster who inhabits one's nightmares Still stands as a powerful and enduring example of the creative imagination Other works Mary Shelley also wrote: Six other novels A novella Mythological dramas Stories and articles Various travel books Biographical studies Established a reputation as a prominent author independent of her famous husband, Percy Bysse Shelley Frankenstein images Case of mistaken identity due to modernday movies of Frankenstein. Many people think the monster's name is Frankenstein, not the creator's name Mary Wolllstonecraft Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's mother was also a famous writer She wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and published it in 1792. This work was meant to wake up the British society of the late 1700's to the unfair treatment of women by societal mores and inheritance laws Father, William Godwin William Godwin wrote An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice Published in 1793 After Mary Wollstonecraft died, he was left with two babies under the age of four He had married only 5 months earlier to give children respectability, even though he was opposed to the institution of marriage Godwin's mourning He wrote a tribute to his wife including her infatuation with the painter Henry Fuseli, her affair with American speculator, Gilbert Imlay, who was the father of her illegitimate daughter, Fanny; and her two unsuccessful attempts at suicide. He hoped to immortalize her, as he saw her as a "person of eminent merit." Book not well-accepted Affect of Godwin's book For the next hundred years, the feminist cause was to suffer many setbacks because of society's association of sexual promiscuity with those who advocated the rights of women In the Anti-Jacobin Review of 1798, "See Mary Wollstonecraft" is the only entry listed under "Prostitution" Mary Shelley grew up knowing that her mother was a pioneer reformer of women's rights and education, and also castigated as an "unsex'd female." Mary as favored child She grew up with a "powerful and ever-to-be frustrated need to be mothered." Father took the best care of her he could, and she became his favorite child because she was precocious, sensitive, and spirited Called her "pretty little Mary", and he pointed out all evidence of her superiority over her sister Fanny Supervised their early schooling Intense and long-lasting relationship between Mary and her father Stepmother woes William Godwin married Mary Jane Clairmont on 5 May 1801 Described by a friend of Godwin's as "clever, bustling, second-rate woman, glib of tongue and pen, with a temper undisciplined and uncontrolled; not bad-hearted, but with a complete absence of all the finer sensibilities." Relationship between Mary W and MJC was strained. Stepmother jealous of attention Godwin gave to little Mary, and she treated her badly. Education of MWS She never received any formal education Learned to read from her housekeeper, her father, and his wife Godwin advised the proper way to study was to read 2-3 books simultaneously She had access to her father's excellent library Also access to literary conversations with William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Thomas Holcroft and William Hazlitt. Mary's first book Her favorite pastime was to "write stories" and in 1808 her reworking of Charles Dibdin's 5stanza song Mounseer Nongtongpaw was published Became so popular that it was republished in 1830 in an edition illustrated by Robert Cruikshank Percy Bysse Shelley Mary met Godwin's new, young, and wealthy disciple, Percy Bysse Shelley, and his wife in November 1812 He shared Godwin's belief that greatest justice is done when he who possesses money gives to those in need Falling in love Mary met Percy again on 5 May 1814, and viewed him as a generous young idealist and a budding genius He had become dissatisfied with his wife and was affected by Mary's beauty, her intellectual interests, and her identity as the "daughter of William and Mary." By June 1814, he dined with Godwins almost every day Courtship Mary and Percy went for daily chaperoned walks, sometimes to visit her mother's grave On June 26, they declared their love for each other He saw her as a "child of love and light" Dedication of PBS's book In his dedicatory stanza for The Revolt of Islam (1817) he wrote: "They saw that thou wert lovely from thy birth, Of glorious parents, thou aspiring Child." Forbidden Upon discovering the relationship between Mary and Percy, Godwin forbade him from visiting the house Mary tried to obey the injunction, but Percy's attempted suicide soon convinced Mary of the strength of his love On July 28, 1814, she fled with him to France, accompanied by Jane Clairmont Romance Mary wrote in her journal "France Poverty a few days of solitude and some uneasiness A tranquil residence in a beautiful spot Switzerland Bath Marlow Milan The Baths of Lucca Este Venice Rome Naples Rome& misery Leghorn Florence Pisa Solitude the Williams The Baths Pisa These are the heads of chapters each containing a tale, romantic beyond romance." Eight years together full of romance, melodrama Creation of Frankenstein During their 8 years together, Mary and Percy lived on love without much money She gave birth to four children, only one of whom survived to adulthood. Three of them died young, and Mary miscarried with fifth and almost died. Harriet Shelley and Fanny Godwin both committed suicide in 1816 Death was much on her mind Creation of Frankenstein Many critics have pointed out the link between the themes of creation, birth, and death in Frankenstein and Mary Shelley's real-life preoccupation with pregnancy, labor, maternity, and death. Dream as possible source In 1815, shortly after the death of her first baby, Shelley recorded a dream that may or may not have had a direct influence on the plot of Frankenstein On 19 March 1815, she wrote "Dream that my little baby came to life again that it had only been cold & that we rubbed it before the fire & it lived." Mary's feelings on motherhood Her anxieties about motherhood and her inability to give life may have led her to write the tale of the aspiring scientist who succeeds in creating a being by unnatural methods Frankenstein's act sometimes read as an attempt to usurp the power of the woman and to circumvent normal heterosexual procreation Dramatizes some of her ambivalent feelings about the proto-Victorian ideology of motherhood. Confused Mary She tried to conform to ideals of wife and mother, but her attachment to Percy, who was still legally married to Harriet, and the mnage a trois with Jane Clairmont involved her in an unconventional domestic arrangement Condemned by her father, seventeen years old, not yet a wife, and no longer a mother, she was dependent on Percy for emotional support and commitment He tried to encourage her to practice "free love" Claire's love affair Claire continued to live with Mary and Percy until 1820 Diverted by affair with George Gordon, Lord Byron They all set off to meet him in Switzerland in May 1816 Lake Geneva Shelleys, Claire moved into a chalet on the banks of Lake Geneva Byron and his physician lived nearby Byron and Percy became close friends, sailed around the lake together having literary and philosophical talks Creation of Frankenstein Introduction of 1831 edition explains how she "Then a young girl, came to think of and to dilate upon so very hideous an idea." On a rainy evening in June 1816, they all gathered at the fireside to read ghost stories. At Byron's suggestion, they each agreed to write a horror story Mary's story Mary wanted to think of a story "which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awake thrilling horror one to make the reader dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart." One night she fell into a reverie of waking dream where she saw "the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together." Creation of monster Mary felt the terror for the artist who endeavored "to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world" by giving the "spark of life" to a "hideous corpse." Story to novel Percy encouraged her to continue writing the ghost story into a novel, which she finished in May of 1817 and published in March 1818 Doppelgangers The creature and his maker are doubles of one another, or doppelgangers. Conception of the divided self, the idea that the civilized man or woman contains within a monstrous, destructive force emerges as the creature echoes both Frankenstein's and narrator Robert Walton's loneliness All three wish for a friend or a companion Relationship between creator and creation Frankenstein and his monster alternately pursue and flee from one another Like fragments of a mind in conflict with itself, they represent polar opposites which are not reconciled, and which destroy each other in the end Creature enacts the repressed desires of its maker, alleviating Victor's fear of sexuality by murdering his bride, Elizabeth, on their wedding night. Frankenstein as Prometheus F is also cast as a Promethean figure, striving against human limitations to bring light and benefit to mankind. He invites his listeners to share in the grandeur of his dreams, to glory in his ability to create a sublime facsimile of the human self. His fall results not from creative aspect, but from his inability to give love to his creature Frankenstein's quest His quest is an act of selfish obsession Destroys his domestic relationships Contrasted with the mariner Robert Walton, whose concern for others ultimately wins over his ambition to reach the "region of beauty and light." Mary's greatest loss Percy Shelley died by drowning on 8 July 1822 He has saved her from bleeding to death after miscarriage a month before Mary had feelings of "fierce remorse" and guilt Mary's death Mary Shelley published several other novels after the death of Percy Shelley until 1844 In 1848 she began to suffer the first symptoms of the brain tumor that eventually killed her Disease not diagnosed until December 1850 when she began to experience numbness in her right leg and impaired speech She became paralyzed and died in London on 1 February 1851, buried in Bournemouth with her mother and father Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley Prolific and creative writer, experimenting in many styles from travelogues to science fiction Died on February 1, 1851 Sources Mary Shelley Biography. http://people.brandeis,edu/ teuber/shelleybio.html ...
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