From Novel to Silver Screen: Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" Essay

From Novel to Silver Screen: Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" Essay

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"All men possess by nature a craving for knowledge."

--Aristotle, Metaphysics (Book 1 Pt.1)

Gothic literature is a genre of writing that plays on man's deepest fears and regrets. From the era of the Gothicism, many genuine classics arose from the ashes of the Neoclassical Period (1660-1785) and the Age of Reason (1750-1800). Novels such as Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764), Matthew Lewis's The Monk (1796), Ann Radcliffe's The Italian; or, The Confessional of the Black Penitents (1797), and Charles Maturin's Melmoth the Wanderer (1820) defined the era. Another great story not mentioned above was Mary Shelley's Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus. Having over thirty film adaptations, Frankenstein is known as one of America's greatest horror stories.

Mary Shelley, born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin in London on August 30, 1797, was the daughter of a well-known author and philosopher, William Godwin. Her life seemed a bit like a Grimm fairytale. Her mother, whom "she knew . . . only by the stories of her dedication to feminism . . . and friends in need" (Shattuck 84), died giving birth to her. She had a "wicked" stepmother that she detested (Bloom 121), 2 stepsiblings and a half-sister, Fanny Godwin. She was swept away by the handsome, but married, Percy Shelley. After a short relationship they eloped; he was later to be drowned in Italy. Fanny who, along with her father, hadn't noticed the growing attraction between the two, wrote a friend John Taylor saying:

"I had the utmost confidence in him; I knew him susceptible of the noblest sentiments; he was a married man who had been happily married to his wife for three years... he accompanied Mary... to the tomb o...

... middle of paper ...

...lm Making. Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press, 1967.

Levine, George. The Realistic Imagination. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1981.

MacGowan, Kenneth. Behind the Screen: The History and Techniques of the Motion Picture. New York: Delacorte Press, 1965.

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Screenplay by Steph Lady and Frank Darabont. Dir. Kenneth Branagh. Perf. Kenneth Branagh, Robert De Niro, Helena Bonham Carter, Ian Holm, Tom Hulce, Aidan Quinn, Richard Briers, Robert Hardy, John Cleese. TriStar, 1994.

Morse, David. Romanticism: A Structural Analysis. Totowa: Barnes & Noble Books, 1982.

Shattuck, Roger. Forbidden Knowledge: From Prometheus to Pornography. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1996.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein: or, the Modern Prometheus. New York: E.P. Dutton and Company, Inc., 1951, the Bobbs-Merril Company, Inc., 1974.

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