Frankenstein Essay

1252 words - 5 pages

Many people know that Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein, was part of a family of famed Romantic era writers. Her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was one of the first leaders of the feminist movement, her father, William Godwin, was a famous social philosopher, and her husband, Percy Shelley, was one of the leading Romantic poets of the time ("Frankenstein: Mary Shelley Biography."). What most people do not know, however, is that Mary Shelley dealt with issues of abandonment her whole life and fear of giving birth (Duncan, Greg. "Frankenstein: The Historical Context."). When she wrote Frankenstein, she revealed her hidden fears and desires through the story of Victor Frankenstein’s creation, putting him symbolically in her place (Murfin, Ross. "Psychoanalytic Criticism and Frankenstein.”). Her purpose, though possibly unconsciously, in writing the novel was to resolve both her feelings of abandonment by her parents, and fears of her own childbirth.

Mary Shelley was born in 1797 to Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, two of the greatest liberal thinkers of the time. Her mother died after two weeks of giving birth to her, leaving Shelley feeling both abandoned by and guilty of her mother’s death. Her father was left with the responsibility of raising her; however, he did not fulfill his duties to her as a father. He gave her only a haphazard education, and largely ignored her emotional needs. She met Percy Shelley when she was only fifteen, and when they ran away together two years later, her father disowned her (Duncan, Greg. "Frankenstein: The Historical Context."). Percy was married at the time, but left his first wife when Shelley was pregnant with their first child. His first wife, Harriet, killed herself shortly thereafter ("Frankenstein: Mary Shelley Biography."). Shelley was terrified of giving birth because of the possibility that she might die from it, as her mother did. However, when the time came, though Shelley did not die, her baby did. Although Shelley was afraid of pregnancy, she felt unable to reject her husband, who left his first wife for her. She was living, then, in constant fear of being killed by her children, and was unable to do anything about it. Within a year of the death of her first child, Shelley was pregnant again, and it was then that she began writing Frankenstein (Duncan, Greg. "Frankenstein: The Historical Context.").

Throughout the novel, Shelley describes various relationships between parent and child, or in the case of Victor and the creature, creator and created. Several times, she shows examples of the child killing the parent, as she felt she did to her mother, and feared her own child would one day do to her. Victor begins his narration with the story of his parents, Alphonse and Caroline. Caroline’s father fell ill at a young age, and she tried to nurse him back to health. As they were very poor and she was still a child, she was unable to do so and “her father died in her...

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