The Power of the Imagination and Its Relationship to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

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The role of the imagination in Mary Shelley’s 1818 novel, Frankenstein is a vital when defining the work as Romantic. Though Shelley incorporates aspects that resemble the Enlightenment period, she relies on the imagination. The power of the imagination is exemplified in the novel through both Victor and the Creature as each embarks to accomplish their separate goals of scientific fame and accomplishing human relationships. The origin of the tale also emphasizes the role of the imagination as Shelley describes it in her “Introduction to Frankenstein, Third Edition (1831)”. Imagination in the text is also relatable to other iconic works of the Romantic Period such as S. T. Coleridge’s Biographia Literaria in which he defines Primary and Secondary imagination. The story as a whole is completely Romantic in that it is filled with impossibilities that seem to have come from a fairy tale. The imaginative quality of the plot itself is a far cry from the stiff subject matter of the Enlightenment period. Frankenstein is wholly a work of Romanticism both from the outside of the tale and within the plot. Shelley created the story in a moment of Primary imagination filling it with impossibilities that can only be called fantastical. Imagining notoriety leads Victor to forge the creature; the creature imagines the joy of having human relationships. The driving factor of the tale is the imagination: imagining fame, imagining relationships and imagining the satisfaction of revenge. Shelley’s use of the imagination is a direct contradiction to the themes of logic and reason that ruled the Enlightenment Period.
S. T. Coleridge divides the concept of imagination into two separate parts: Primary imagination and Secondary imagination. Primary imagi...

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...radicts the themes of reason that dominated the Enlightenment Period.

Works Cited

Brother Jonathan, O. S. B. “Mother Frankenstein: Thoughts on Mary Shelley’s Creation.” Frankenstein (The Original 1818 'Uncensored' Edition). PlanetMonk Books, 2013. 2938 2939. Kindle Edition.
Coleridge, S.T. “From the Biographia Literaria (1817).” Romanticism: An Anthology. 4th. Ed. Duncan,Wu. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2012.711-712. Print.
"reverie, n." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2014. Web. 22 April 2014.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein: The 1818 Text, Contexts, Criticism. Ed. J. Paul Hunter. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 5-161. Print.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. “Introduction to Frankenstein, Third Edition (1831).” Frankenstein: The 1818 Text, Contexts, Criticism. Ed. J. Paul Hunter. 2nd ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 165-169. Print.