Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly has written many books in her life. She has received much criticism about one of her books inperticular, Frankenstein. Frankenstein was one of her most famous novels. Shelly had written Frankenstein in order to enter a contest but what few people realized was that Frankenstein was one of many nightmares that Shelly had during her rough childhood. Shelly has become one of the most renowned Gothic authors because of her use of graphic descriptions and settings and her use of many significant themes. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelly was born in London on August 30, 1797.
Shelley was the daughter of a philosopher named William Godwin. Shellys mother died while giving birth to her and her father was remarried in 1801(Drabble 121). Shelley disliked her fathers new wife so, as a result, he sent her to go live in Dundee with the Baxters, foster parents, where she stayed until 1814. Shelley took many visits back to London to visit her father (Bloom 3014). On May 5, 1814, Mary met Percy Bysshe Shelley on one of her visits to London. Percy Shelley left his wife, Harriet, and went to France with Mary (Bloom 3014). Shelley returned to London to give birth to a daughter only to lose the child two weeks later.
Percy Shelley proposed to Mary Godwin and they were married in 1816. Shelley became pregnant again and again lost the child at birth. Out of four children, only one survived, Percy (Drabble 121). While the Shelleys were traveling thought Italy, they had sent letters to their friends asking for financial support. During this time, many legal battles were being fought over publishing matters, the Shelley estate, and the four children from Percys previous marriage. Shelleys next two children died Clara and William Shelley. In 1818 Clara died barely one year old and in 1819, William died at the age of three.
Finally, in late 1819, a forth child was born. A son, Percy Florence, was the only one of the four children to grow to maturity (Bloom 3015). On the morning of July 28, 1822, Percy Shelly was sailing with his close friend Edward Williams in his boat Ariel. The boat was tipped and Shelly drowned in the Gulf of Spezia during a heavy storm. After Percys death, Mary refused to turn her son over to Percys father Sir Timothy, so she turned to writing to support her family (Drabble 121). Some of Shelleys earlier novels include: Valperga (1823), The Last Man (1826), and TheFortune of Perkin Warbeck (1830) (Drabble 122).
Many people consider The Last Man to be Shelleys most famous work. The central vision of this novel is the spiral of human history in the central vision. The Last Man is set in the distant future, at the time, of the twenty-first century. This novel begins with a peaceful and flourishing society but tragically ends with total death throughout the world by the plague. Only one man survives this decimation, Lionel Verney (Bloom 3018). Lionel Verney has nothing to anticipate except the endless and desolate journey from city to city. All of the worlds treasures are his for enjoyment.
All of the great libraries and coffers are open to him only. Only one thing is missing from this novel, companionship. Companionship is a key aspect of The Last Man. Lionel doesnt want all the earthly treasures; he only wants a friend (Bloom 3018). Shelleys most famous novel, Frankenstein, has much of the same aspects and ideas. Both novels deal with the knowledge of good and evil and both novels deal with the aspect of friendship and being accepted. Shelleys characters in Frankenstein are all tied together in some shape or form.
Victor Frankenstein was one of the main characters in this novel. His actions in the later stages of this novel directly effect the outcome (Bloom 3018). Victor Frankenstein was born in Geneva. Victor showed an early promise in the natural sciences. When he grew older, his father sent him to the University of Ingolstadt. Victor learned all that the university could teach him in the natural science field. One day while studying, Victor stumbled across the secret of creating life and once he had the knowledge he couldnt rest until he could create a living being (Magill 2154).
Frankenstein compares himself with the prince of over reachers. Like an archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell. His experiments seem most unnatural. The experiments Frankenstein participates in are not an inspiring sight (Kiely 3209). Instead of creating a creature that would love, Frankenstein has created death (Magill 2156). The only crime that Frankenstein has committed is a sin against society (Goldberg 3206). Frankenstein has realized that the creature he has created is an abomination (Kiely 3210).
The creation is abandoned and left alone. Rejected from society, the monster hides. For a long time in hiding, the monster observes a family through a crack in the wall. The monster watches the DeLaceys and, in time, learns to read, write, and speak (Goldberg 3207). The monster realizes that the more knowledge that he gains about the nature of good and its dependence upon social interaction, the more he recognizes the impossibilities of immersing himself into it. The monster discovers that his fate is determined once the DeLaceys reject his friendly advances.
The monster then declares everlasting war on the human race (Goldberg 3207). Shelley uses this scene to show her readers the isolation from society is brought forth by society itself (Kiely 3208). Shelleys style of writing is mostly recognizable to that of Gothic Romance (Rieger 3213). Although Shelly shared her husbands fascinations with natural sciences, it would be a mistake to call Frankenstein a pioneer work of science fiction. Shelly is skilled in the areas of chemistry, botany, and physics but little of this information got into her novel (Rieger 3214).
Although Shelleys novel deals mostly with dark and evil images, she does make a comparison with good and the bible. At the end of the narrative, Frankenstein again compares himself with the prince of over reachers. Frankenstein regrets the result of his extraordinary efforts, though he is not ashamed of making this effort in the first place (Kiely 3208). Shelley used the cause and effect method here. Frankensteins cause was to create human life but the effect was not to his liking (Kiely 3209). Shelley used symbolism to relate some characters in her novel to real life people.
The monster is a symbolism of Adam and Satan. The monster realizes that he is either Adam, destined for eternal grace, or Satan, doomed to eternal darkness (Goldberg 3205). The monster likes to compare himself with Adam before the creation of Eve, but Satan is an even Eitter emblem of his condition (Kiely 3213). The monster encounters books envying Satan because he is drawn to the fact that Satan had his companions (Kiely 3213). All of this symbolism backtracks or in some way leads to the story of creation in the bible (Magill 2422).
Shelley, along with the use of symbolism, also incorporates many themes in her novel. A major theme of this novel is the theme of estrangement. This theme is in direct relation with Shelleys own loneliness (Goldberg 3208). Shelleys parents did not except Percy, mainly because she ran off with him and got married which was against her parents beliefs (Magill 2422). Towards the end of Marys life she became desolate and cold. Her grief combined with worry over her fathers misfortunes. As Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, she was at a very depressive state in her life.
The birth of Percy Florence Shelley did little to alleviate her sorrows. As the years pasted, Shelley began a disturbing passion for Emilia Viviani. Mary indulged in jealously which was as futile as it was harrowing (Kiely 3217). On July 8, 1822, Shelley drowned in the Gulf of Spezzia (Goldberg 3209). After Shelleys death, much of her literary works were just being recognized. They lived on for nearly thirty years after her death. Though they were written for money to support her family, they were a permanent part of her literary history (Goldberg 3209).
At the age of twenty-one, Shelley composed Frankenstein, which many people consider her biggest contribution to the literary world. Today, Frankenstein is still considered one of the greatest Gothic novels (Kiely 3218). Well after her death, Shelley was still remembered. In 1876 a poem was published titled A poem on Shelleys Death. Then, in 1891, almost seventy years after Shelley passed away, another book was published. This book entitled Tales and Stories by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, was a collection of short stories written by Shelley but never published (Goldberg 3205).
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley lived a very difficult life. During this rough time she managed to accomplish more than most Gothic writers. Her insight into the world of Gothic Romance was a direct reflect of her struggle through life. This enabled her to give a better account than most authors. Her life ended as miserable as it began but with no regrets. Her work is well remembered and often looked upon. Shelley, as well as her novel Frankenstein, will always be regarded as one of the best Gothic authors with one of the best Gothic novels to date.