Influence Of The Metamorphoses And Paradise Lost In Frankenstein By Mary Shelley

1118 words - 4 pages

Influence of The Metamorphoses and Paradise Lost in Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Frankenstein, possibly Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley's most well-known work, is
considered by some to be the greatest Gothic Romance Novel. Due to her marriage to
Percy Bysshe Shelley and close friendship with other prolific Romantic authors and poets,
namely Lord Byron, Shelley's works permeate with Romantic themes and references. Also
present in Frankenstein are obvious allusions to The Metamorphoses by Ovid and Paradise
Lost by Milton. Shelley had been studying these two novels during her stay at Lord
Byron's villa, and at the time she was composing Frankenstein. The use of these references
and themes prove that Mary Shelley was a product of her environment and time.
Robert Walton, the arctic explorer whose letters create the framework for this epistlary
novel, opens the reader to the concept of the "Romantic Quest," the journey for the
unknown. "I am already far north of London," he writes to his sister, "... [and] I feel a
cold northern breeze play upon my cheeks...which fills me with delight...This breeze,
which has travelled from regions towards which I am advancing, gives me a foretaste of
those icy climes. Inspirited by this wind of promise, my day dreams become more fervent
and vivid" (Shelley 15). These sentiments will be later echoed by Dr. Frankenstein when
he experiments with the unknown to create his creature/monster. The quest of the
Romantic can take many forms, from Coleridge's "Rime of the Ancient Mariner" to
Byron's "Childe Harold," both of which are poems alluded to during the course of the
novel, along with ann abundance of allusions to William Wordsworth's poetry.
Walton ends his second letter by describing his feelings on the eve of his voyage. He
says that he hopes to have his inspiration inspired similar to the best of the Romantic poets
because he feels that there is still a "love for the marvellous, a belief in the marvellous,
intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even
to the wild sea and unvisited regionns I am about to explore." This statement is the very
essence of one of the many facets of Romanticism; it contains a yearnning to search for the
unknown, coupled with a lure of dangerous oceans and unexplored regionns, plus a
passionate response to a new challenge, and finally, it mentions the now-famous albatross
from Colleridge's "Ancient Mariner." This inspiration of Walton will again be reminiscent
of Victor Frankenstein when he desires to create life, because this "god-like" desire
contains a concept so lofty and mighty as to awe one. "No one can concieve the variety of
feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiaasm of success. Life
and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a
torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and

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