Frankenstein Essay, Research Paper
Natalie Maio Professor Levinei
English 153 April 27, 1998
PARALLELS BETWEEN MARY SHELLEY and FRANKENSTEIN
It is clearly evident that there are many parallels between the novel Frankenstein and the life of its author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Throughout her life, Shelley experienced many deaths of loved ones. These tragedies led her to create a monster story that expressed her psychological state of mind. From researching biographical texts of Shelley, I learned that the deaths of loved ones that Mary Shelley experienced had a significant influence on the plot of Frankenstein.
Mary Shelley was born into a family that contained notable writers, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. These two writers influenced Mary Shelley?s decision to become a writer. One night as Shelley was going to sleep, she began thinking of a horror story. Before she realized it, pages and pages of words were flowing and soon enough, Frankenstein was created. Without realizing it, Shelley was incorporating events that were taking place in her life to the story that she was writing.
Mary Wollstonecraft became very sick when Shelley was born. She had suffered due to complications during childbirth. Everything happened all at once and two weeks after she gave birth, Mary Wollstonecraft died. Mary Shelley was the cause of the death of her mother. Never would she be able to get close and bond with her mother the way mothers and daughters
do. She realized that she had to stay strong and accept what life had to offer her. ?Though she had struggled to reject that instinctive guilt, carefully schooled as she had been in logic throughout her thirteen years by her renowned philosopher father, the thought continued to haunt her? (Leighton 3). Thoughts of her mother would always be with her, but life had to go on. There was no better way for Shelley to keep the spirit of her mother alive then by following in her mother?s footsteps and becoming a writer. Now she would be able to be as expressive as she wanted and release all her grieves and emotions.
The way Shelley?s mother died is quite similar to the way Frankenstein?s mother died. While his mother was taking care of Elizabeth, his ?sister,? from scarlet fever, she became very sick and simultaneously died. Here, Elizabeth feels that she is the one responsible for her mother?s death. If she had insisted that her mother stay away from her while she was sick, she would have still been alive. Elizabeth and Victor had to accept what happened and move on with their lives. ?My mother was dead, but we had still duties which we ought to perform; we must continue our course with the rest and learn to think ourselves fortunate whilst one remains whom the spoiler has not seized? (Shelley 43). They would both always feel the pain and sorrow of the loss of their mother, but they knew that going on with life and doing well for themselves would make their mother both happy and proud.
When Mary Shelley gave birth to a boy, she decided to name it William in honor of her father. After two years of happiness, little William became seriously ill and died. This was the most traumatic thing Shelley had to encounter. It was hard enough having a mother die, now it was her son. Life did not seem to have much meaning to her anymore. ?The world will never be to me again as it was ? there was a life and freshness in it that is lost to me?I ought to have died on the 7th of June last? (Walling 19). This was a very upsetting and chaotic time for Shelley. She could not come to any realizations as to why her baby was taken away from her.
It seemed very ironic that Shelley named Frankenstein?s little brother William, especially since William dies. Frankenstein could not
understand the real reason as to why this happened to William. Was he the cause? No matter what the implications were, Frankenstein knew that Justine, his cousin, could not kill her own family member. Questions were left unanswered and things were always a mystery to Frankenstein.
As Shelley was growing up, she had a lot of step/half brothers and sisters from different marriages. She was not able to get very close to them because she was always moving around and living in different places. One significant half-sister that Shelley remained close with was Fanny Imlay. She was four years old when their mother had died and as she and Shelley were growing up, Fanny would talk about Mary Wollstonecraft and tell her everything she remembered about her. Shelley remained close to Fanny throughout all her years of writing and during her marriage to Percy Shelley. Just as everything seemed good, Shelley receives a letter from Fanny saying her final good-bye; she had committed suicide. Shelley was devastated and blamed herself. ?Mary was tormented by the thought that if she had not been so wrapped up in her own affairs, she might have sensed Fanny?s despair and somehow helped her overcome it? (Leighton 84). Now Shelley felt that she was responsible for two deaths, her mother and her sister.
Victor Frankenstein created a monster through his scientific genius. The creation was a representation of the life that Victor desired to live until it started overpowering Frankenstein?s life and destroying it. The creature is very sensitive and when it is told how ugly and disgusting it is, anything could happen. One day, Frankenstein?s little brother William saw the monster and was scared. William told the monster how ugly he was too. Without any warning, the creature approached William and killed him. At first, Frankenstein had no idea who had done this to William; but he knew that his cousin Justine was falsely accused . The death of William broke Frankenstein?s heart; he loved the little boy so much. William was taken away from Frankenstein the way his mother was and again, he had no control over it.
When the monster began controlling Frankenstein?s life and making demands, Frankenstein knew something was wrong. Frankenstein would not create a mate for the monster so it promised to put revenge on him. Sure enough, on the night of Frankenstein?s wedding to Elizabeth, the monster raped her and killed her, leaving Frankenstein all alone with no one to love. Now he realized that the monster killed little William. This was so overwhelming for Frankenstein. He felt that he was the cause of these two deaths. If he had never created this monster, his brother William and his future wife would be alive and well. Frankenstein began to breakdown and was self-destructing. How was he going to live with himself knowing that he caused these deaths?
Frankenstein?s attitude is very similar to that of Shelley. She feels utterly responsible for two deaths as well, her mother and her half-sister. She regrets being born so that her mother could have lived a long, happy life and if she was not so involved with her career and love life, she would have been able to save Fanny?s life. Shelley did not make the best decisions but she had to come to the realizations that things happen in life that nobody has control over.
Dealing with the death of loved ones is probably the hardest thing that a person has to go through and when tragedy occurs time after time, it is not easy to gain back hope. Although Frankenstein is not an autobiography of Mary Shelley?s life, all of the incidents of death in the novel have shown to have some similarities to her life. Frankenstein experienced death and overcame death the same way that Mary Shelley did. Having an author resemble its character allows the reader to get a true insight on the life of the author. It also helps the reader understand why the author chooses certain characters and why certain actions take place.