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"In Her Novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley Attempts To Shape The Values Of Her Society More Than She Attempts To Reflect Them." To What Extent Do You Agree?

1440 words - 6 pages

Whilst making a critical judgement and shaping the values of society of her time, Mary Shelley uses her Gothic Romantic novel Frankenstein as a catalyst to reflect these values in more of a way than she attempts to shape them. Frankenstein is based around many features commonly found in the Gothic Romantic genre such as the pursuit of knowledge and the wonders of earth and creation. However, Shelley's work does not always directly mirror these concepts but sometimes cleverly interprets and transforms them into subtle values and meanings. The novel is a remarkable piece of writing, not only because it had such enduring influence but because of the ingenious techniques that she employed to ...view middle of the document...

Victor's thirst for knowledge and his desire to play God are ones that are very destructive and Shelley emphasise's this through the murder of various characters by the monster as a result of Victors creation."No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour down a torrent of light into our dark world. A new species would bless me as its creator and source; many happy and excellent natures would owe their being to me. No father could claim the gratitude of his child so completely as I should deserve theirs. Pursuing these reflections, I thought, that if I could bestow animation upon lifeless matter, I might in the process of time... renew life where death had apparently devoted the body to corruption. " (page 52-53)Society in nineteenth century England placed huge emphasis on religion, particularly the Church of England whose policies and traditions were woven into politics at this time. The existence of God and religion acted as a boundary toward good and evil. Though Shelley never speaks of Religious values in particular, the novel is heavily based around this underlying theme, especially that of the axis between good and evil. In this sense Shelley really is, shaping the values that she accepts in society. Although she herself was not religious she obviously still believed in the conflict between good and evil.Another key theme, embraced by Shelley is that of Chauvinism, one that was heavily prevalent throughout the whole of English Society. The ever-selfish Victor's relationship with his ever-loving cousin Elizabeth is very dis-functional. Victor treats her as a possession and constantly neglects her whilst preoccupied with his own issues. Victor is clearly self-obsessed and his lack of consideration and attention to any character leads to his eventual downfall. Victor's selfishness throughout the whole novel is displayed in his 'ownership' of Elizabeth. In relation to the author, Shelley herself was persecuted by men, particularly Percy Bysshe of whom she was his mistress. Shelley's mother was also notably famous for writing the world's first feminist tract which creates a stronger link between Shelley and the idea of chauvinism within the text. Shelley reflects on and ties this aspect of personal and periodical value to her text. The Gothic Romantic movement became immensely popular with the production and release of title novels (one of them being Frankenstein) that shaped this genre and provided an alternative for 19th century literary society. There are many features present in Frankenstein that are characteristics of the Romantic genre. The appreciation and exploration of nature was one of these important features and the novel heavily exploits this. Both of the main characters, Victor and the creature find fascination in nature and its wonders and frequently speak of it...

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