Contextual Analysis Of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

1065 words - 4 pages

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a gothic text that raises many interesting ideas. The basis of these ideas come from contextual influences upon Mary Shelley, prior to and while she was writing her novel. Key ideas include the need for nurturing, love and family, responsibility of creation/ birth, discrimination and prejudice on basis of appearance and the dangers and consequences of unbridled ambition and obsessions. The contextual influences that these key ideas stem from are childbirth, the industrial revolution and various textual influences upon Shelley. Main examples in which the influence of context is shown strongly are chapter four, chapter five, the story of the creature (chapters eleven to seventeen), and the final confrontation between the Victor and his creation.In chapter four, we are shown Victor's increasing isolation, shown through his response to the physical world and the degradation of his social life and morals. His excessive hubris forces him to continue on the quest for creation. He becomes physically ill because of the "days and nights in vaults and charnel houses," the "incredible labour and fatigue" finally taking its toll upon his body. His association with death reflects upon his life as he is slowly fading away. This shows the dangers and consequences of Victor's ambition and how he is destroying himself and his links with his friends because of the "unremitting ardour" with which he "pursued his undertaking." Shelley uses imagery and the metonymy of doom and gloom to convey the isolation which is a consequence of his ambition. This comes from Shelley's own fears of the industrial revolution and that the application of science can lead to unintended consequence.Chapter five most conveys the ideas of responsibility of creation/ birth and is an image of Shelley's own fears of childbirth and pregnancy. As the book can often be seen as an allegory for the journey of pregnancy. Shelley's fears of stillbirth and maternal death- stillbirth she has suffered in the prior year, while her mother died due to complications at birth. In this chapter, the creature represents the natural fears of bringing a new innocent life into the world and raising it properly so that it does not become a monster. However, Victor disowns the creature and ignores it. Later in the chapter, we see the contextual influence of Rime of the Ancient Mariner upon Shelley, where an excerpt of the poem appears which is quite relevant to the events occuring in the chapter. The quote reads "Like one, that on a lonesome road | Doth walk in fear and dread, | And having once turned round walks on,| And turns no more his head;| Because he knows, a frightful fiend| Doth close behind him tread." This is of great significance and reflects Victor's fear at the creature at that point in the novel.The creature's story extrapolates pity from the reader. In this part of the book we are shown the ideas of discrimination and prejudice on basis of appearance, and the textual...

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