Essay on Shelley's Frankenstein and Milton's Paradise Lost

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Shelley's Frankenstein and Milton's Paradise Lost

Even upon first glance, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein and John Milton's Paradise Lost seem to have a complex relationship, which is discernible only in fractions at a time. Frankenstein is Mary Shelley's reaction to John Milton's epic poem, in which he wrote the Creation myth as we perceive it today. His characterizations of Adam and Eve and the interactions of Satan and God and the impending Fall seem to have almost taken a Biblical proportion by themselves. By the time that Mary Shelley read Paradise Lost, it was indeed a stalwart in the canon of English Literature, so it should not come as a surprise to the reader the it should play such a large part in her construction of the Frankenstein myth, which has become an archetypal ghost story on its own. What makes each of these narratives so fascinating to the reader is the author/authoresses' innate ability to use the ultimate struggle -- that between God and Satan (or Good and Evil) -- which in turn involves the reader in a most personal manner. The characters in Paradise Lost, which is chronologically first, and Frankenstein, seem to appear over and over as aspects of themselves and other characters. The essence of these characters is on the surface relatively bland, but when aspects of Satan start to enter Man and they reconfigure each other, the interest picks up rapidly.

Shelley's use of these characters is drastically different than that of Milton. Mary Shelley was a product of the 19th Century, when Romanticism, the Gothic Aesthetic, and Science took the forefront of Western Culture. Milton's era was different: there was little secularization, and religious change was everywhere as the Protestant ...

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