10 Things You Should Know About Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

10 Things You Should Know About Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

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  1. Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, was one of the first books written by a woman that delved into a most frightening topic–monsters! By all accounts it was Mary Shelley who first introduced to the world a creature that was not only scary but a creature that was made by a man.

    What you Should know about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

    Interestingly, Mary was raised by parents who were writers and revolutionaries. Mary’s father was an English journalist and novelist and her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft was also a writer, feminist and a radical. She wanted equality for men and women and even though she died shortly after Mary’s birth, her writings influenced Mary for many years. Mary was also influenced by her then future husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was also a writer. As she began thinking about writing a kind of ghost story, she suffered at times from writer’s block but she continued on and completed her novel, Frankenstein in 1817. A second edition was published in 1823 in two volumes.

    Other Interesting Points on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

    Mary Shelley’s writing was influenced by several "literary classics" that she and her future husband read. At one point in her book, Frankenstein the monster made reference to a passage from the book, Paradise Lost. In his reference to this book, the monster made a statement about Satan and his role in that story. It is interesting to note that Mary Shelley wrote in her preface of Frankenstein that her main  goal–her main desire in writing Frankenstein– was to write a ghost story. It appears that she got the idea for this story during the summer of 1816 when she spent time with her husband, Lord Byron and Dr. John Polidori at Lake Geneva in Switzerland. It was at this location that all three of them engaged in a kind of ghost story competition. This is when she invented her story of Frankenstein; most likely edged on by the competitive spirit of three.

    The Inspiration Behind Frankenstein’s Chosen Location

    Some think that the name Frankenstein was taken from a German town known as Damstadt. Mary and her husband Percy sometimes traveled there on their way from Basel. There is a theory by a German historian, Walter Scheele, that Mary heard stories about a man named Johann Konrad Dippel, who was an alchemist. He lived in Burg Frankenstein in the early 18th century. There was and is, a legend about this man that he "experimented with dead bodies and was able to create an artificial monster." Sounds a lot like Victor Frankenstein in her book! Mary’s mother also had a relationship with a painter named Henry Fusell. He painted a picture of a woman named Elizabeth who was shown lying dead across her bridal bed "just after her murder by the creature."

    To conclude, it appears that Mary Shelley was highly influenced by her mother’s writings and by her husband and Lord Byron and of course, her own creative juices. But, what a story she created!

    References:

    Mary Shelley and her novel Frankenstein (2012) Retrieved February 4 from: http://members.aon.at/frankenstein/frankenstein-novel.htm

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