I wrote this for my British lit class earlier tonight. I haven’t posted my essays in awhile (mainly because the last couple of terms have been creative work) and really like my premise here. It could be worthy to be expanded into a full paper.
Shelley and Admiration
A child’s wonder is often marveled at by contemporary society. Their ability to create and learn from the products of their imagination is one of the more longed for aspects of humanity by the people it has long since passed by. Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a novel in which many people explore themes of childhood and make assertions based off of those explorations. While Frankenstein’s creation can be viewed as an abandoned child (and, most likely, rightly so), it can also be identified as a product of Shelley’s own ambitions.
Mary Shelley has always been curious. According to Ellen Moers’ essay “Female Gothic”, Shelley openly admitted to being immersed in the literary and scientific occurrences of the time. This plays into Frankenstein from the start of the novel. Shelley’s interest into using a science back drop to her story may stem from her desires to sire a child, but the fact that she used that motif should carry the same amount of weight as the reason for doing so. Moers writes: “Frankenstein’s exploration of the forbidden boundaries of human science does not cause the prolongation and extension of his own life, but the creation of a new one. He defies morality not by living forever, but by giving birth.” (Moers).
What if Frankenstein isn’t about Shelley’s failed pregnancies and about her relationship with the other influential people she admired. Her mother was Mary Wollstonecraft, her husband was Percy Bysshe Shelley and, according to Moers, she eagerly read and engaged with the other romantic writers of her time: “She read widely in five languages, including Latin and Greek. She had easy access to the writings and conversation of some of the most original minds of her age.” (Moers). Yes, Shelley lost all the babies she was pregnant with from the age of 16 to 21, but what if Shelley’s greater torment was living up to the stars that shone around her? It would explain the additions of the three texts the creation finds and the fact that the creation has such empathy for Frankenstein by the end of the text. Who wants to see their idols die?
The articles on Shelley by John Rieder and Marshall Brown in our coursework each provide great arguments about the reasons behind Frankenstein and are undoubtedly well researched. And while they both of them briefly go into to the origins of the story, neither really acknowledge the fact that this was Shelley’s first story. Frankenstein is without a doubt a story about a creator and a child, but what is a writer if not a creation of previous writers?