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Discuss some of the ways in which a writer of the period refers to other near contemporary writers (either directly

or by quotation) what light do such references thrown on the authors own concern. Mary Shelley (1797-1851) was born to the radical figures of Enlightened philosopher William Godwin (1756-1836) and the pioneer feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797). Frankenstein written in 1818 by Mary Shelley tells the cautionary tale of Victor Frankenstein who rejects his creation and ultimately dies for it. This paper will examine the ways in which Shelley borrowed the utopian theme from Godwin; the creation and death theme from Milton and references of feminism from Wollstonecraft. It is clear by the premise of Frankenstein that Mary Shelley like her protagonist Victor was interested in creation and death. She says in the introduction to Frankenstein that during the time spent with Percy Shelley and Bryon they discussed various philosophical doctrines [], and among others the nature of the principle of life, and whether there was any probability of its ever being discovered and communicated. (Shelley 1992: 8) Her interest in this subject is continued in her novel where after the death of his mother, Victor like his creator Shelley, becomes interested in the principle of life and seeks out scientific methods to achieve his goal of giving life. From this day natural philosophy, and particularly chemistry, [] became nearly my sole occupation. (Shelley 1992: 49) Victor becomes so devoted in his practise that he does not question where his research and experiments will lead.John Milton was not a contemporary of Mary Shelleys but it is obvious that she was heavily influenced by his epic poem Paradise Lost. She incorporates his retelling of the bible in her novel by making creation the prominent theme. In Paradise Lost Adam was created by God out of clay. In comparison the monster was created from dead parts which Victor procured from the graveyard and then reanimated using electricity. The monster like Adam had no say in the form or purpose of his design and like Adam the monster laments his creation. So the preface for Frankenstein taken from Paradise Lost is particularly apt. Did I request thee maker from my clay? To mould me Man, did I solicit thee From darkness to promote me... (Shelley 1992: 1) Death is a significant theme of Shelleys, she was a motherless child in the care of an absent father. Shelleys mother died through complications concerning her pregnancy. Victors mother dies of scarlet fever which seemly inspired him to begin his quest for the search for life and the monster abandoned by his father was created without the benefit of a mothers womb. What did this mean? Who was I? What was I? Whence did I come? What was my destination? (Shelley 1992: 125) The monsters questions about his creation and his purpose show an intelligent mind, while he is ugly and deformed by human standards, he has the potential to educate himself. Which makes his creators rejection that much more cruel.The monster is not the created Adam but the fallen Satan, who rejects his maker to follow his own pursuits. Remember, that I am thy creature; I ought to be thine Adam, but I am rather the fallen angel, whom thou drivest from for no misdeed. (Shelley 1992: 104) Mary Shelley's antagonist is independent of society. This is a similar attitude Marys father advocated in his work and by using her protagonist she confronts her fathers utopian ideals. If her novel surreptitiously criticizes Godwin in personal and autobiographical terms, it also mounts a critique of Godwins philosophical ideas [] (Levine 1979: 148) In the preface of her novel Mary Shelley dedicates it to her father William Godwin the author of An Enquiry concerning the Principle of Political Justice (1793), whose ideology are evident within the novel. Godwins philosophy was focused on the idea that mankind would eventually advance to the extent where political institutions and other human restrains would no longer be necessary. Humanity would be reborn and in this world man would have autonomy over himself. The men [] will cease to propagate [] in addition to this they will perhaps be immortal. (Levine 1979: 150) Mary Shelley would have been interested in his theory as they also influenced her husband the radical poet Percy Shelley. Godwins idea of humanity reborn is reproduced in Frankenstein when Victor creates a monster who he then abandons. The monster is a new creation that is physically different enough to humanity to make him an aberration. It can be seen in the text that Victor like Godwin took the theory of regeneration too far. In

creating his monster Victor hides covertly to do his work going out late at night to procure the things that he needs to conduct his experiments. This could be because he knew what he was attempting would be heavily criticised for being unnatural and similarly to Godwin he would be vilified and feared. Many people at the time were talking about the regeneration of society and humanity. Godwin simply took the matter more literally than most. (Levine 1979: 149) However, when Victor's creation emerges, instead of being proud of his achievement, he is disgusted. It is only when he sees the grotesqueness of the monster that he regrets his dream of bringing a body to life. [] now that I had finished, the beauty of the dream had vanished,[] (Shelley 1992: 56) Victor constructed the monster not only for advancement but out of arrogance, with high expectations of the result.The utopian fantasy is damaged not only for the creator but also for the monster. Everywhere I see bliss, from which I alone am irrevocably excluded. (Shelley 1992: 104) The monster is unhappy not only in his differences in comparison to everyone else but because he is alienated. However at the end of the novel, Victor reveals to Walton that he has learnt from his mistakes: Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his own nature will allow. (Shelley 1992: 48) Mary Wollstonecraft author of The Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) had strong ideals about the place of women and men in society which she cited in her works. There is little reason to fear that women will acquire too much courage or fortitude for their apparent inferiority with respect, must render them [] dependant on men in the various relations of life [] (Wu 2006: 350) As the child of this prominent feminist figure and being a woman herself it is surprising that Shelley did not incorporate stronger female role models within her novel but portray instead weak and passive women with none of the values that her mother endorsed. This behaviour is seen in the main female characters Elizabeth and Justine.I do not fear to die [] I leave a sad and bitter world; and if you remember me as one unjustly condemned, I am resigned to the fate awaiting me. (Shelley 1992: 84) Justine Moritz is perhaps the less fortunate female character within the text as she is accused of murdering the child William Frankenstein. After slaying the boy the monster comes upon her while she is sleeping and is embittered by what he can not have: I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights that such beautiful creatures could bestow. (Shelley 1992: 138) Because he feels robbed of all she could have given him had he been a normal man, he punishes her by framing her for the murder of William. Though torn by remorse, shame, and guilt, Victor refuses to admit to anyone the horror of what he has created, even as he sees the ramifications of his creative act spiralling out of control. So Justine is executed for a crime she did not commit thereby showing her weakness for being resigned to her fate. Victor shows passiveness for not telling the truth about what happened and by his silence the monster is allowed to roam unchecked. After causing the death of Justine the monster demands that Victor makes him a companion in the form of a woman so that he may have someone to be with. Shall each man [] find a wife for his bosom and each beast have a mate, and I be alone? (Shelley 1992: 162) At first Victor is in agreement to this but renegades on his bargain believing that the creatures would propagate and get in to mischief. [] I refused and I did right in refusing, to create a companion for the first creature. (Shelley 1992: 209)The monster retaliates from what he sees is unfairness by promising to visit Victor on his wedding night. It is the character of Elizabeth that embodies the passive character. Adopted into the family, Elizabeth is brought up in middle class society as a close companion to Victor. But even in this close position within his life, Victor fails to trust her with the monsters existence. Oh! Peace, peace my love [] this night and all will be safe: but this night is dreadful, very dreadful. (Shelley 1992: 188) Even as Victor panics about whether the monster will come on his wedding night he does not inform Elizabeth and tries to calm her that the night will be safe. The monster does away with Elizabeth as Victor did away with the monsters chances to have a female for himself. Because of their passive role the women in this text can not be blamed for the events that have transpired unlike the case of Eve in Paradise Lost who is blamed for the fall of mankind. They have been unwilling victims in the struggle between Victor and his creature. Elizabeth and Justine are seen to be as repressed and as constructed as the monster.

In conclusion, the most prevalent themes in Frankenstein is creation, death, utopia and feminism. Victor is depicted as an arrogant man who did not properly consider the effect that his creature would have on society and on Victors life. He is punished for his ego by having the ones he loves removed from him and by the end of the novel he is just as lonely and destitute as the monster he abandoned. Godwins vision of utopia comes under the greatest scrutiny. While the monster is created, he is not the beginning of a new enlighten race, but evidence of the arrogant society that created him. He is intelligent and articulate but due to his ugliness he can not enter society. If Mary Shelley wanted to endorse her mothers ideals she surely did so by incorporating an egotistical man with passive underachieving women, in this way she shows that men have all the power, whether it is political or scientific and that women can only, but, rely on the men. it is the male character of Victor that causes the problems, it is his ideals and ambition that caused the suffering and death. Bibliography Clemit, Pamela. The Godwinian Novel Oxford University Press 1993 Levine, George. The Endurance of Frankenstein University of California Press 1979 Mellor, K Anne. Mary Shelley, her life her fiction and her monsters Routledge 1988 Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein Penguin Classics 1992 Wu, Duncan. Romanticism an Anthology 3rd edition. Blackwell, 2006. Sghoene-Harwood, Berthold. Mary Shelleys Frankenstein. Icon Books Ltd 2000