Mary Shelley: Brief BiographyMary Shelley was born in Somers Town, London, on August 30,1797. Her mother was a feminist and philosopher who died 11 days after Mary was born. Her father, William Godwin, raised her and her older sister. William Godwin was a political philosopher that firmly believed in the rights of the individual.
In 1814, Mary began a romance with a political follower of her father, Percy Shelley. Percy was married when he and Mary, 17 at the time, travelled through Europe with Mary's stepsister. By the time they returned to England Mary was pregnant. The shame followed Mary and Percy as they were ostracized and living in debt. Their daughter was born prematurely and died. Mary Shelley wrote in her journal, "Dream that my little baby came to life again--that it had only been cold & that we rubbed it before the fire & it lived."
Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley married in 1816 after the suicide of Percy's wife.
The ChallengeIn the summer of 1816, Percy and Mary visited Lord Byron’s estate in France. It was there that Lord Byron issued a challenge to see who could write the best horror story. Mary Shelley drew inspiration for from a dream she had, at the estate, of a man who desires to bring life to the dead. The story she wrote became the novel, Frankenstein. She was 19 years old when the book was published in 1818.
FrankensteinIn movies we see the monster called Frankenstein as an unintelligent creature taking out his rage on all those around him. In contrast, the novel presents the creature without a name and having intelligence. Frankenstein is the last name of his creator, Victor. The creature is angry because of the neglect he experiences from his creator. Thus, begging the question, what responsibility does the creator have to the creation. It is interesting to note that Victor, like Shelley, experienced anguish from losing loved ones.
I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
I ought to be thy Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel...― Mary Shelley, Frankenstein
PrometheusThe subtitle to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is "The Modern Prometheus".
The Legend of Prometheus - Mythology
- After reading about the myth of Prometheus, how can you apply it to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein?
- Look at the quote from the book and discuss how it applies to Prometheus and how can it apply to us today?
Activity OptionsWrite a story based on the theme of man creating something he cannot control or reaching beyond his ability.
Write a short essay discussing another novel, story, TV show, or movie, that demonstrates the theme stated.
What are Gothic Novels?Read the following:
Elements of the Gothic Novel
Frankenstein: A Mix of the Gothic and the Romantic
What is Gothic Horror?: Born From Romance, Gothic Horror is All About Atmosphere. | Suite101.com
Gothic NovelsHere is a list of Gothic Novels written in the same time frame as Frankenstein.
The best gothic novels, ghost stories and early horror 1764-1937 (149 books)
Create Your Own Gothic StoryUsing the conventions of gothic literature write your own short story.
This post is part of the iHomeschool Network's Birthday Lessons in August. We have created mini unit studies on historical figures born in the month of August. Please visit the rest of the team for an interesting month of study!