Romanticism In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Essay

2514 words - 10 pages

Mary Shelley, with her brilliant tale of mankind's obsession with two opposing forces: creation and science, continues to draw readers with Frankenstein's many meanings and effect on society. Frankenstein has had a major influence across literature and pop culture and was one of the major contributors to a completely new genre of horror. Frankenstein is most famous for being arguably considered the first fully-realized science fiction novel. In Frankenstein, some of the main concepts behind the literary movement of Romanticism can be found. Mary Shelley was a colleague of many Romantic poets such as her husband Percy Shelley, and their friends William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge, even though the themes within Frankenstein are darker than their brighter subjects and poems. Still, she was very influenced by Romantics and the Romantic Period, and readers can find many examples of Romanticism in this book. Some people actually argue that Frankenstein “initiates a rethinking of romantic rhetoric”1, or is a more cultured novel than the writings of other Romantics. Shelley questions and interacts with the classic Romantic tropes, causing this rethink of a novel that goes deeper into societal history than it appears. For example, the introduction of Gothic ideas to Frankenstein challenges the typical stereotyped assumptions of Romanticism, giving new meaning and context to the novel. Mary Shelley challenges Romanticism by highlighting certain aspects of the movement while questioning and interacting with the Romantic movement through her writing.
The preceding Enlightenment period had depended upon reason, logic and science to give us knowledge, success, and a better society. The Romantics contested that idea and changed the formula; instead of following the traditional equation, new literary forms and ways of expression could be made. Given that the Industrial Revolution had impacted all forms of society, including how people thought, felt, worked, and related to each other, it would not be totally crazy to think that such a change might have been the reason why Romanticism was quickly adopted. Romanticism as a reaction to the hyper-active period of change might have been the only way to deal with the backlash of the Enlightenment's scientific thoughts and concerns. Romanticism gave people spontaneity, the chance to dream again, to explore fantasy, whereas the Enlightenment made everything predictable, taking the fun out of life. First expressed by the English poets, these ideals of Romanticism spread to other artistic models, such as art and music, and on to other countries. Because of this, the value of the arts, emotions and the value of the individual was able to reestablish a place in the minds and practices of people and society.
Before delving too deep into Shelley's novel, it is very important to label the ideologies and connections behind Romanticism as a literary period, and a literary movement. The poetry and prose of the Romantic...

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