Author’s Life and Ideas

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Author’s life and ideas

Mary Shelley was born into greatness. “As the daughter of radical novelist William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and the wife of one of the leading . . . Romantic poets, she was . . . ‘one of England’s most notable literary heiresses.’”(Allingham 1) This inheritance gave her a literally unique view of life and it influenced all of her writing. For example, in her book Frankenstein, there are countless references to how a woman should act. Even the birth of the monster reveals Shelley’s mother’s beliefs. The asexual creation of a being is any feminists’ dream. Since the creature was not born, but created, it had no biological mother. Therefore, it was created asexually.(Allingham) Two deaths also impacted her works immensely. “In November 1816, Fanny, Mary’s half-sister committed suicide. A few weeks later, in December 1816, Shelley’s first wife Harriet also killed herself.”(Coghill 3) These events had a direct affect on her writing. Just months after their suicides, Mary ended the book. At the end, the monster burns itself to death. The monster’s self immolation was written in response to Fanny and Harriet’s suicides. The experiments of Galvani also were an important influence.

Luigi Galvani, a prominent figure of Shelley’s time, focused his studies on the effects of electricity on body tissue. His experiments were famous and timely. “When a charged metal rod caused disembodied frog legs to move, Galvani glimpsed that electricity motivated living nerve and muscle. His work advanced understanding of . . . ‘Galvanism’”(Hitchcock 33) Since “Percy Shelley [was] deeply interested in the scientific discoveries of [his] time,”(Wilson 1) he often spoke to his wife concerning these experiments. Event...

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...nheit 451. NY: Del Rey Books, 1979. Print.

Coghill, Jeff. Shelley's Frankenstein. Foster City, CA: IDG Books Worldwide, 2000. Print.

Ewbank, Inga-Stina. "Frankenstein." Encyclopedia Americana. 2010. Grolier Online. 11 Mar. 2010 .

Griffith, George V. “An Overview of Frankenstein, in Exploring Novels.” Gale, Literature Resource Center, 1998. 18 March 2010

Hitchcock, Susan Tyler. Frankenstein a Cultural History. New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 2007. Print.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1969. Print.

Umland, Samuel J. Frankenstein Notes. Lincoln, NE: Cliffs Notes, 1982. Print.

Wilson, Robert. "Watchers of the skies: heroes of British science, and the Romantic poets they inspired." American Scholar 78.4 (2009): 115+. General OneFile. Web. 11 Mar. 2010.
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