Mary Shelly And The Romantic Era

1118 words - 5 pages

The story written by Mary Shelly reflects the mood of the Romantic era in numerous ways. Some of these themes include views on science, changes in the weather across Europe, mistrust of advancements in science and the role of disease and death and the loneliness that resulted. The experiences of Shelly and even the setting and location where she formed the idea for Frankenstein display interesting themes of the time period.
Disease and death were a common theme throughout the Romantic era. Not only did it affect Shelly’s life directly, the topic of personal loss was evident throughout her novel. The murders of Victor’s family and friends by the monster displayed this theme but it was also on display early in the book with Victor’s mother catching the Scarlet Fever and dying after attending to Elizabeth during a bout of the same. Disease, tragedy and death seemed to be a sad but very common part of life during this time period.
Interestingly, changes in the climate and weather of Europe were a key factor in the idea of Frankenstein coming about. Due to this inclement weather, a period of time was spent indoors by Mary, her husband and some of her friends. After discussions about ghost stories, gothic writings and reanimated corpses, Mary’s imagination rose to the occasion and after a nightmare one night Frankenstein was born. As a side note, I also found the mood the Frankenstein book felt cold and gloomy throughout. Although the scenery sounded beautiful, it had a feel of coldness to it also. I’m not sure if that was a reflection of the weather outside while Shelly was writing but the constant imagery of ice covered landscapes and cold night’s outdoors was pervasive throughout the novel.
Around the time Shelly was writing Frankenstein, the Napoleonic Wars were coming to an end. Although Napoleon believed in the ability of any man to rise above his station to greatness, he was also known for crushing political opponents who spoke out or rose against him. This is shown in the novel a couple of times. One example was Saphie’s father getting caught up in a problem in France and being jailed. The book mentions that he had become “obnoxious to the government”. Although obnoxious could mean many things it is very possible that the government simply mistrusted him. The fact that he was Turkish probably didn’t help.
One of the major themes in the novel was in regard to scientific advancement. While there were many inventions in the early 19th century many of those inventions weren’t able to be practically applied. Many of them, including electricity and chemistry were in their infancy. The study of these fields was definitely increasing as was shown through the character Victor in the novel. Victor became obsessed with science and during his studies was convinced that science held the answers most if not all of life’s problems. The studies of these fields may have increased the understanding of...

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