Guide Two Works by Mary Shelley

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Eventually the group settled in Lerici, a town close to La Spezia in Italy , but it was an ill-fated choice. It was here that Claire learned of her daughter's death at the Italian convent to which Byron had sent her, and that Mary almost died of a miscarriage.

And it was from here, in July , that Percy sailed up the Adriatic Sea coast to Livorno to plan the founding of a journal with a group of friends. Caught in a storm on his return, he drowned at sea on July 8, , aged 29, along with his friend Edward Williams and a young boat attendant.

Percy left his last poem, a shadowy work called "The Triumph Of Life," unfinished. Mary was tireless in promoting her late husband's work, including editing and annotating unpublished material. Despite their troubled later life together, she revered her late husband's memory and helped build his reputation as one of the major poets of the English Romantic period. But she also found occasion to write a few more novels, including Valperga, The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck, and Falkner.

Critics say these works do not begin to approach the power of Frankenstein; however, The Last Man, a pioneering science fiction novel of the human apocalypse in the distant future, is sometimes considered her best work, as is Maria, a novel published posthumously.

Matilda is a short novel which was not published until the 's. It is perhaps her most controversial work since it involves the taboo subject of incest. Godwin, Shelley's father, refused to publish the work probably because of its subject matter and its obvious autobiographical undertones. Mary Shelley died of brain cancer on February 1, , aged 53, in London and was interred at St.

Peter's Churchyard in Bournemouth, in the English county of Dorset. At the time of her death, she had become a recognized novelist. Published in , Frankenstein is easily her most famous novel. Indeed, it is one of the most enduring works of nineteenth century fiction ever written, and the basis for one of history's most enduringly popular cultural phenomena.

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley - Summary & Analysis

Frankenstein's story has been adapted for film, television, and theater countless times; yet, the popular culture version of the story clashes strongly with what Mary Shelley actually wrote. Frankenstein is not just a simple horror novel—it is one of the most deeply thought-out and philosophical works of literature written in the nineteenth century. Shelley had been absorbing philosophy and literature all her life, through the influence of her philosopher-father and poet-husband and her own voracious reading habits.

Uniquely positioned as one of the most well-educated women of her time, Shelley poured her erudition into the creation of her masterpiece, and Frankenstein shines with meditations on some of the profoundest themes of human existence. The novel opens with the narrator, Captain Walton, on a ship sailing north of the Arctic Circle. Walton is a restless youth, dreaming of finding a passage through the ice-sheets of the Arctic. His ship becomes ice-bound, and as he contemplates his isolation and paralysis, he spots a huge figure traveling across the ice on a dog sledge.

This is Victor Frankenstein's monster. Soon after, he sees the ill Victor Frankenstein himself, pursuing the creature on a sledge of his own, and Walton invites him onto his ship. After initial reluctance, Victor takes over telling the story at this point.

Mary Shelley: life and works

Curious and intelligent from a young age, he learns from the works of the masters of Medieval alchemy, reading such authors as Albertus Magnus and Paracelsus and shunning the modern teachings of natural science. He leaves his beloved family in Geneva , Switzerland to study in Germany , where he is first introduced to modern science. In a moment of inspiration, combining his new-found knowledge of natural science with the alchemic ideas of his old masters, Victor perceives the means by which inanimate matter can be imbued with life.

He sets about constructing a man using means that Shelley refers to only vaguely. Subsequent visual interpretations of the story have included the creation of Frankenstein's monster through alchemy, by the piecing together of corpses, or a combination of the two, yet none of this is ever mentioned in the text of the novel.

Shelley intentionally pays little attention to how Frankenstein makes his creature, so as to focus our attention on the catastrophe that unravels after it is born. He intends the creature to be beautiful, but when it awakens he is disgusted. It has yellow, watery eyes, translucent skin, and is of an abominable size. Victor finds this revolting and runs out of the room in terror. That night he wakes up with the creature at his bed side grinning at him with an outstretched arm, Victor flees again whereupon the creature disappears. In shock, Victor takes ill for several months. After recovering, in about a year's time, he receives a letter from home informing him of the murder of his youngest brother, William.

He departs for Switzerland at once. Near Geneva, Victor catches a glimpse of the creature in a thunderstorm among the rocky boulders of the mountains, and is convinced that the creature has killed William. Upon arriving home he finds Justine, the family's beloved maid, framed for the murder. Despite Victor's feelings of overwhelming guilt, he does not tell anyone about his horrid creation and Justine is convicted and executed.

To recover from the ordeal, Victor goes hiking into the mountains where he encounters his "cursed creation" again, this time on the Mer de Glace, a glacier above Chamonix. The creature converses with Victor and tells him his story, speaking in strikingly eloquent language. At this point, in the very center of the novel, the Creature takes over the narrative.

He describes his feelings first of confusion, then rejection and hate after being created and abandoned by Victor. Both stories are set on ships sailing through frozen seas and offer a cautionary tale about the peril of disturbing the natural order.

Quick Facts

Both Victor and Prometheus sought godlike powers of creation; both faced punishment for their misguided actions, with Victor experiencing the loss of all his loved ones and Prometheus facing perpetual physical torment. In it, he chronicles the history of the world through the lens of mythology, starting with the Creation and ending with Julius Caesar. Mary Shelley was especially taken with the myth of Prometheus, a Titan who created man from clay and rebelled against Zeus by giving fire i.

Mary Shelley

Throughout the Age of Exploration, ships sailed to the corners of the Earth, seeking both scientific and commercial gain. The epigraph she chose for the title page of Frankenstein is a quotation from Paradise Lost , and appears in Book X, lines — shown here. This eighteenth-century edition is illustrated by well-known English artist Francis Hayman, the first librarian of the Royal Academy.


  • Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.
  • Zeit und Geschichte bei Hegel (German Edition).
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Press, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, two of the leading English political writers of the s, called for radical social reform. Interestingly, their love affair began slowly; when they first met, they found they disagreed on nearly everything, but eventually, their passion and mutual admiration prevailed. Tragically, Mary died in , ten days after giving birth.

William had a long history of fiscal mismanagement and seemingly hoped Taylor would pay him for the sordid details. This letter was reprinted in an edition of copies for private distribution to members of the Bibliophile Society of Boston. Watercolour and bodycolour on ivory laid on card.

Bodleian Library, University of Oxford. Her use of themes such as female identity, scientific enlightenment, and community over individualism; as well as the mixing of autobiographical elements into her stories create a body of work that often reads as extremely progressive for her time.

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Mary Shelley | Biography, Books and Facts

Opie, John. Mary Wollstonecraft Mrs William Godwin. Oil on canvas. From the moment of Mary Shelley's birth, her reputation would be dominated by her connections to other prominent authors, beginning with her parents. Shelley's parents had recently married only five months before, which was delayed due to their shared distaste for the institution of marriage, but necessitated by Mary's pregnancy Bennett 9.

Tragically, less than two weeks after Shelley's birth, her mother died of puerperal fever, an event that would have a profound and everlasting effect on Shelley's life and work as an author. Throughout her life, Shelley would read and reread her mother and father's works in order to "confirm her sense that she was living in accordance with their beliefs" Garrett The poor children! I am myself totally unfitted to educate them. The scepticism which perhaps sometimes leads me right in matters of speculation, is torment to me when I would attempt to direct the infant mind. I am the most unfit person for this office; she [Mary Wollstonecraft] was the best qualified in the world Godwin immediately solicited help from various female friends and relatives to assist him in the children's upbringing.