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Mary Shelley and Frankenstein: An AP Introduction

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Title: Mary Shelley and Frankenstein: An AP Introduction


1
Mary Shelley and Frankenstein An AP Introduction
2
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3
When?
  • In the summer of 1816, 19 year old Mary
    Wollstonecraft Godwin and her lover, the poet
    Percy Shelley, visited the Lord Byron at his
    villa beside Lake Geneva in Switzerland.

4
The Motivation
  • Stormy weather frequently forced them indoors,
    where they and Byron's other guests sometimes
    read from a volume of ghost stories. One evening,
    Byron challenged his guests to each write one
    themselves. Mary's story, inspired by a dream,
    became Frankenstein.

5
Her Familys Influence
  • Her father, William Godwin,was a political
    thinker and writer.
  • Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was a
    feminist.

6
Her Love Percy Shelley
  • Met when she was 15.
  • He was married. 1st wife drowned.
  • They married two years later. She had already had
    2 of his children by this time.
  • He was a famous poet.

7
The Pre-Hippies
  • They were into nature, free love, and were not
    particulary bound by Christian ideals
  • Absinthe and opium
  • Shelley even had a mistress Jane Clairmont
  • Jane later became involved with Lord Byron and
    thats how Mary and Percy met him.

8
A Suspicious Death
  • Shelleys first wife died by drowning.
  • When she was found, resuscitation was attempted -
    smelling salts, vigorous shaking, electricity,
    and artificial respirationusing resuscitation
    bellows were used.
  • These were all methods that had been used since
    the 1760s to revive drowning victims to life.
  • Harriet, however, did not survive.

9
What was Science Up to at this Point?
  • During Marys time, scientists and
    physicians were fascinated by the elusive
    boundary between life and death.
  • Experimented with lower organisms, performed
    human anatomical studies, attempted to
    resuscitate drowning victims, and performed
    experiments using electricity to restore life to
    the recently dead.

10
The Baby and The Dream
  • Marys daughter had died.
  • Mary dreamed that her daughter was brought back
    to life through vigorous rubbing and being held
    near a warm fire.
  • This inspired her to write Frankenstein.

11
More Bad News
  • Her sister committed suicide
  • Her son (William) died from malaria
  • Her next daughter died from dysentery.
  • Lots of bad luck!!!

12
Marys Contest Submission
  • Not intended to be a tale of the supernatural
    she even made her main character a scientist so
    that his building of a man would seem logical.
  • Was a combo of Gothic elements and science
  • Might be considered early sci-fi

13
The Structure of the Story
  • The novel is constructed of three concentric
    layers, one within the other
  • outermost--Robert Walton's letters to his sister
  • middle--Frankenstein's story as he tells it to
    Walton
  • innermost--Monster's description to Frankenstein
    of the development of his mind at the deLaceys'.

14
Modern Prometheus
  • Prometheus was the son of a Titan
  • the name means "forethought.
  • In the battle between Zeus and the Titans for
    control of Olympus he sided with Zeus and became
    his chief counselor. 

15
Dont Irritate a god
  • Devised a plan -man got the choice parts from the
    animals and used as sacrifice to the gods
  • Made Zeus very angry
  • Zeus denied man fire

16
Things go from bad to worse
  • Prometheus stole fire
  • Zeus gets super angry
  • Chains him to rock and lets birds devour his
    liver
  • Liver grew back every night.
  • Next day, same deal. Not fun.

17
Another Version
  • the fire stolen by Prometheus was also the
    fire of life with which he animated his men of
    clay.
  • Doesnt this seem even more Frankenstein-ish??

18
Moral of the Story???
  • Dont irritate the gods
  • Moral of our story?????
  • Dont play God

19
Paradise Lost Referenced Often
  • Paradise Lost is John Milton's attempt to
    "justify the ways of God to man" by retelling of
    the story of Creation, the revolt of Lucifer and
    his fall from grace, and the story of Adam and
    Eve.

20
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