Questions to revise Mary Shelley
- Mary Shelley: relevant biographical elements (daughter of… wife of…)
Mary Shelley was born in 1797. She was daughter of parents were influenced by the ideas of French revolution; in fact they were part of a small radical group in which there was William Blake. She received a lot of intellectual stimulus because her house was attended by the most famous writer of the day as S.T. Coleridge or Percy Shelley. The latest one become his husband and together escaped to France. Here she wrote “Frankenstein” that contains elements connected with her life that was characterised by the death because she lost her mother ten days after her birth, his husband who drowned and his son.
- The gothic night: challenge at the origin of the novel.
The novel Frankenstein was inspired in a particular moment of Mary’s life. She received the initial inspiration from the intellectual stimulation of Percy Shelley and, especially, from Georges Byron who was a famous romantic poet. The idea of Frankenstein was born in Mary’s mind as a nightmare helped by her anxiety and uncertainties and stimulated by the duel against Byron: the play consisted to write the story most beautiful. Finally, the gothic novels read influenced her in that period that were characterised by supernatural events and a specific aim: transmit fear to the reader.
- Birth, guilt, and death always mingle in Mary Shelley’s experience. Explain.
These three elements mingle each other because her life was characterised by them. In fact, her mother died after ten days of her birth and she lost her son after a bit of time from his birth. As if this was not enough, her husband Percy Shelley set sail in a storm and then he was found drowned. Part of this experience is reflected in the novel “Frankenstein”.
- Explain why Frankenstein is called “the modern Prometheus” by the author.
Frankenstein is connected to the Greek myth Prometheus because he moves without respecting the rules of nature, so against God, like the giant does in the fantastic story. In fact, Prometheus stole the fire to the gods in order to give it to humans: doing this he challenges the divine authority like Dr Frankenstein.
- Mary Shelley and science. Documentary, Profets of Science: Galvani and scientific knowledge at the time plus anticipations of future science: organ transplants, use of electric stimula in rehab techniques, genetic manipulation, artificial intelligence.
Mary Shelley and his novel “Frankenstein” are associated to the science of the period. In fact, when she write the story she is aware of the latest scientific theories and experiments of the day. An experiment that is so important is the one of Galvani. He noticed that using electricity on a death body the limbs moved convulsively so he believed that the electricity was the key of the life. Mary enhances this fact writing about a monster that is restored through electricity and she anticipates the future science, the science of nowadays, that is based on transplants and electric stimuli in rehab.
- Introduce Frankenstein: very brief summary, point of view and themes.
Frankenstein is a novel composed by Mary Shelley in 1816 in which we can notice some features about her and his life: there is, especially, the tension between the fear of revolution and interest in revolutionary ideas and her interest about science and experiments on electricity. Story talks about a brilliant doctor that dedicates two years to construct a monster using part of human bodies and electricity but this one challenges his creator killing Frankenstein’s brother and the story ends with a conflict between the two, the death for hardships of the doctor and the decision of the creature to kill himself. Monster can be considered as a primitive man who is not influenced by civilisation (Rousseau’s man). Frankenstein represents science and its responsibility to humankind. There are three narrators: Walton, Frankston and the monster. There are many themes as the overreacher (Walton and Frankenstein) and the double: connection between F. and W. that desire to overcome human limits and travelling towards the unknown; penetration of nature’s secrets and usurpations of the female role to create human being and social prejudices.
- Dr Frankenstein and Walton as over-reachers (modern Faustus or (Prometheus).
They are overreachers because they want to overcome the human limits and open a new era. They want to do something that is impossible and complicated. In addition, they can reach a goal at all costs.
- Aspects of Rousseau’s “Noble Savage” in the Creature.
The creature can be considered as a primitive man (Rousseau’s man) who is not still influenced by the civilisation but he discovered rapidly the limits of the nature and civility.
- Brief Summary of the two passages read from Frankenstein (plus point of view, themes…).
THE CREATION OF THE MONSTER
In this part of the novel, there is the description of the creation of the monster. It was a dreary night of November when he was able to concretize his dream. He saw the yellow eye of the creature open and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs. He built it with beautiful part of bodies as white teeth and lustrous black hair but these enhanced the ugly of the monster because there was a contrast with his water eyes and black lips. He felt emotions that he did not beheld, in fact, the emotions are changeable. He felt disgust and went to his bedroom. He had a nightmare where he imagined his wife transformed into the dead mother body that were covered by shroud (sudario) with grave-worms. When he got up he was sweaty (sudato) and the monster tried to hold him but he escaped downstairs.
The point of view is of the doctor.
Themes: we can see how moving against nature gives immediate reaction on the doctor, who gets disgusted by what he had done. Therefore, the idea of wanting more is wrong as in Adam and Eve.
FRANKESTEIN AND THE MONSTER
Frankenstein is searching the monster to kill him because he has killed his brother. He meets the monster and it is too ugly and taller than a normal person is. He waits his approach to begin a mortal combat with him. He speaks to him only to express words of fury and angry. The monster says that he expects this reaction because the human beings hate the wretched people and he is the most wretched. The monster does not understand how Dr can play with life in that way. The creature purposes a pact to the doctor (patto), and if he does not accept, he will reverse is fury to his friends and to the humanity. He is irritate and he decides to kill the monster to put an end to all.
The point of view: at first is associated to the doctor, after to the monster.
Themes: the rejection of any responsibility by the doctor to the monster and the insensibility about the creator to the creature’s feelings.
- Influences of Coleridge’s Rime in Frankenstein.
An influence of Coleridge’s Rime is evident because “Frankenstein” begin with a crossing of a ship with a mariner and his shipmates and a stanza of Coleridge is copied in the novel.
- Differences with Jane Austen (point of view, subject, treatment of feelings and emotions.
Mary Shelley was inspired by the ideals of the 18th century, reason and human’s power. Contrariwise, Jane Austen writes about marriage and feelings.
- Personal opinion about the relevance of the novel in our days.
In my opinion Frankenstein treats a theme too delicate because the conflicts between science and religion or nature nowadays is stronger than ever and I think that science must have limits in the sector of the research because if we don’t respect the rules of the nature we can have problems as in the novel of Mary Shelley. In fact, the idea of wanting more is wrong as in the story of Adam and Eve.
These answers weren’t written by me. If there are corrections to be made, write below in the comments, thank you.