Frankenstein GCSE


Mary Shelley

Her mother died 10 days after Shelley was born, fever after child birth, probably caused guilt for Shelley – link to when Frankenstein’s mother dies because of daughter scarlet fever. Both mothers dies due to daughter.

Fathers description: “Her desire of knowledge is great, and her perseverance in everything she undertakes almost invincible”. The desire of knowledge at young age is linked to Frankenstein, went to uni in mid-teens, already obsessed with desire of knowledge, mirrors real life Mary Shelley.

In 1814, before the book, Shelley took a trip in Germany 10 miles from Frankenstein castle, an alchemist took under strange scientific experiments, suggestion could be made that Mary was aware and took influence from this castle.

1815 her baby died, loss of mother and her own child, at this point her life has been affected by so many deaths in family. Modern feminist interpretation would suggest the loss of her baby was a crucial influence on book and novel is birth myth in which Shelley comes to term with guilt of loss of  her mother’s death and failing as parent much the same way as Frankenstein is a metaphorical parent, he gives birth to creature but fails to nurture and positive influence. There’s strong metaphorical link to what Frankenstein failed and tried to do with creature and Mary tired and failed to do as a parent and as a child to her own mother.

1816 a number of the famous writers went on holiday, summer in Geneva, lord Byron, Mary Godwin, Percy Shelley, with bad weather constant rain couldn’t leave house, sat round fire and told ghost stories, Byron said they should each write one and Mary Godwin(Shelley) couldn’t think of one and took a while to think of one and then got onto the issues relevant like galvanism, reanimating a corpse, she decided that she would write her story, she said “I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together… supremely frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the creator of the world.” One of the major themes is to take position of god, giver and taker of life, began writing it on this holiday.

Horror genre and importance of context

Novel fits into gothic horror genre, gothic storied combine elements of horror and romance, in Shelley’s time the genre also included trying to tap into fears prevalent in times of writing but we lose that today, in her time there were events that are very similar to those in the book

Gothic Horror

Takes fears of society and plays of them, what people were scared of and give the worst possible scenario.

Luigi Galvani, big influence on Frankenstein, in ch5 the doctor says he wanted to infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that laid at my feet, spark being electricity,  directly referencing the work of Galvani, prof in uni of Bologna prof of comparative anatomy, he accidentally




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