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Mary Shelley (1797-1851)


Mary Shelley (1797-1851) An introduction to the woman who created the ultimate monster. Mary Shelley By nineteen, Mary Shelley had written one of the most famous ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Mary Shelley (1797-1851)

Mary Shelley (1797-1851)
  • An introduction to the woman who created the
    ultimate monster.

Mary Shelley
  • By nineteen, Mary Shelley had written one of the
    most famous novels ever published
  • Frankenstein tells the story of a scientist who
    learns how to reanimate life -- but forgets to
    consider the consequences.

Shelleys Work
  • Nearly 200 years later, her work still inspires
    stage, film, video, and television productions
  • Wrote
  • Six other novels
  • A novella
  • Mythological dramas
  • Short stories and articles
  • Travel books
  • Biographical studies

Shelleys Parents "We cannot, without depraving
our minds, endeavour to please a lover or
husband, but in proportion as he pleases us. -
Mary Wollstonecraft
  • Born to two great intellectuals rebels (feminists
    and philosophers) of the 1790s
  • Mother Mary Wollstonecraft -- author of A
    Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792)
  • Father William Godwin -- author of An Enquiry
    Concerning Political Justice (1793)

  • Eleven days after giving birth, Shelleys mother
    passed away from puerperal fever
  • Shelley was left with her mothers legacy a
    pioneer for reform of womens rights which
    resulted in her being deemed an unsexd female
  • Godwin raised Shelley and her half sister Fanny
    to follow in his and Wollstonecrafts footsteps

Childhood (cont.)
  • Godwin remarried in 1801 to Mary Jane Clairmont
  • Clairmont was jealous of Shelleys intense
    relationship with her father, and was also
    jealous of the amount attention that Shelley got
    from visitors because she was the product of two
    such radical minds
  • Clairmont made Shelley do household chores,
    encroached on her privacy, and limited her access
    to Godwin

Childhood (cont.)
  • Clairmont did not encourage Shelleys
    intellectual development or love of reading
  • Fortunately, Shelley had access to her fathers
    library, and at her fathers suggestion, was
    always reading two or three books simultaneously
  • Shelley also listened in on literary
    conversations between Godwin and visitors like
    William Wordsworth, Charles Lamb, Samuel Taylor
    Coleridge, Thomas Holcroft, etc.

Childhood (cont.)
  • Shelleys favorite pastime was to write stories
  • At age 11 she was published (a 39-quatrain
    reworking of a five stanza song)
  • It became very popular and was republished in

Meeting Percy Shelley
  • Met Percy Bysshe Shelley and his wife Harriet
    Westbrook Shelley in 1812
  • Percy was also a brilliant published writer
  • Believed that the greatest justice done was done
    when he who possessed wealth gave it to those who
    needed it most
  • Supported Godwin financially

Falling for Percy Shelley
  • Percy Shelley grew tired of his wife Harriet and
    fell for Mary Shelley
  • Godwin forbade them from seeing each other
  • Percy Shelley attempted suicide
  • Mary, convinced of his love, fled to France with
    him in 1814

  • Mary and Percy have four children (only one
    survives to adulthood)
  • First child is born prematurely and dies 11 days
    later in 1815
  • William, born in 1816, dies of malaria in 1819
  • Clara Everina, born in 1817, dies in 1818 of
  • Percy Florence, born in 1819, died in 1889
  • In 1822, Mary miscarried her 5th pregnancy and
    almost lost her life

Preoccupied with Death
  • From 1816 onward, dealt with the suicides of
    Fanny Godwin (Shelleys half sister) and Harriet
  • I have long determined that the best thing I
    could do was to put an end to the existence of a
    being whose birth was unfortunate, and whose life
    has only been a series of pain to those persons
    who have hurt their health in endeavoring to
    promote her welfare.Perhaps to hear of my death
    will give you pain, but you will soon have the
    blessing of forgetting that such a creature ever
    existed as...Fanny Godwin
  • Dealt with death of her own children
  • This preoccupation with death seen in her work

Dreaming up Frankenstein
  • In 1815, after death of first child, dreamt the
  • "Dream that my little baby came to life
    again--that it had only been cold that we
    rubbed it before the fire it lived."
  • Anxieties about motherhood may have inspired her
    to write the tale of a scientist who succeeds in
    creating a being through unnatural methods

Concocting Frankenstein
  • On a rainy evening in 1816, Shelley and friends
    read from Fantasmagoriana, a French translation
    of a German collection of ghost stories
  • Lord Byron suggested they each write a horror
  • Mary wanted to think of a story "which would
    speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and
    awake thrilling horror--one to make the reader
    dread to look round, to curdle the blood, and
    quicken the beatings of the heart.

  • Finished in May 1817, published in March 1818
  • Frankenstein refers to the mad scientist, not the
  • But the scientist and the monster are not too far
    from one another in likeness

Adulthood (cont.)
  • Mary deals with depression in 1819 due to losing
    two children in 9 months time
  • It is the focus of much of her work
  • In 1822 she suffers the loss of her husband Percy
    through death by drowning
  • Ironically he dies a month after saving her from
    her miscarriage
  • Percys death left Mary with fierce remorse and
  • Mary had thought it Percys fault when Clara
    passed away
  • Became withdrawn and depressed after Williams
  • Percy sought out other women and had affairs with
  • His death left things unfinished between them

Mary Shelley shall be written on my tomb.
  • Mary committed herself to immortalizing her
    husband through writing his biography
  • She did not remarry, but was rumored to have had
    various affairs
  • She devoted the remainder of her life caring for
    her only surviving child Percy Florence
  • "Well here is my story - the last story I shall
    have to tell - all that might have been bright in
    my life is now despoiled - I shall live to
    improve myself, to take care of my child,
    render myself worthy to join him. Soon my weary
    pilgrimage will begin - I rest now - but soon I
    must leave Italy -".
  • She died at the age of 53 of a brain tumor and
    was buried with her parents