First published: 1817
Setting: Late eighteenth century
Locale: Geneva, Switzerland; Ingolstadt, Germany; Scotland; Arctic Ocean
Keywords: Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft; Frankenstein; science fiction; treatment of nature; treatment of fear; Romanticism; treatment of monsters; Biblical allusion; Gothic novel; relationship to science; creation; sources in classical myth
Note: This novel's full title is Frankenstein; or the Modern Prometheus
Victor Frankenstein, while a student at the university in Ingolstadt, Germany, becomes obsessed with his ambition to create life as an addition to scientific knowledge. His success leads to the making of a monster the sight of whom fills him with "breathless horror and disgust". Throughout the rest of the novel Frankenstein is haunted by the specter of what he has accomplished while the monster tries to make a place for himself in a cruel world. When Frankenstein refuses to create a mate for him, the monster embarks on a rampage of revenge. After Frankenstein is deprived of all whom he loved, he hunts the monster to the icy desolation of the Arctic to destroy that which he has wrought. Victor tells his story of horror and terror to Robert Walton, the captain of the ship which rescues him in the Arctic. Frankenstein's ensuing death and the monster's grief inspired vow to destroy himself bring this gothic novel to a close.
Mary Shelley was born August 30, 1797 in London, England to social philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft. Mary's mother died ten days after her birth, and she was raised, along with her half-sister Fanny Imlay (Mary Wollstonecraft's illegitimate daughter), by her father. William Godwin has been portrayed as a repressive patriarch with a rigid belief in his own rightness. When Mary ran off at sixteen with the then married poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, her father stopped talking to her but continued to accept money from Percy Shelley. Mary came from a family of social radicals and entered a circle of social radicals. Thus she began a relationship with a married man at a time when such a union was a definite social impropriety. She and Shelley were married two years later after Shelley's wife committed suicide. Together they had three children, only one of whom reached adulthood. Mary wrote her most famous work, Frankenstein, when she was only nineteen years old. The novel was the result of a dream she had after a challenge that she, Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, and a doctor friend of theirs each write a ghost story. Only Mary complied and the result was Frankenstein. After Percy Shelley was killed in a boating accident in 1822, Mary made a living by writing critical essays, several other novels, and a travel book and editing and publishing her husband's poems. She died in London on February 1, 1851.
|Sample Keywords for Searches|
|Parental love and responsibility||Science and ethics||Revenge|
|Social responsibility||Good versus evil||Obsessive behavior|
|Horror and terror||Artificial life||Parental neglect|
|Librarian Talk . . .About Books!
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BOOKS CONTAINING CRITICISMS
Reference books -
Circulating books -
EVENTS AT THE TIME THE NOVEL WAS WRITTEN
picture courtesy of Cathy Decker
Britain was in the middle of the Industrial Revolution when Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein. New technologies, such as the mechanization of spinning and weaving and improvements in the modes of transportation, led to a shift in the country from being a largely agricultural and commercial society to being the world's first industrial nation. This transformation fomented economic and political upheaval. Agitation for more rights for workers and women had its onset in this period. The agrarian Old Guard struggled to maintain its influence while new fortunes were being made in the textile industry. There was a rapid growth in population. The number of people in Britain doubled between the first ever census in 1801 and the census of 1851. The most popular journalist of the day, William Cobbett, spoke out for the workers and attacked landowners and political corruption. The Romantic poets revolted against the formality of neo-classicism and advocated a return to nature and a world of imagination and unconscious feelings. All of society was influenced by the NapoleonicWars and the ideas of the French Revolution.
The debate between scientific discoveries and traditional religious and metaphysical thought was starting to take shape, and the ethics of how far man should pursue his desire for knowledge was beginning to be a topic of discussion - a topic still in debate today.
BOOKS TO EXPLAIN THE TIMES
FINDING JOURNAL ARTICLES IN DATABASES
|Librarian Talk . . . About Finding Journal and Newspaper Articles!
Electronic databases are purchased by the libraries for your research use. To find articles in newspapers and journals, letters, reference books, illustrations, photographs and more, use your updated library card to login to the following databases. If you find an interesting article that is not full-text, please give the correct bibliographic information to our Reference Librarians and they will see that you get the article. They will need full bibliographic information - and your name and address. Send your phone number as well, so they can contact you if they need to. There is some overlap of articles in the following databases. However, we encourage you to use more than one. All are excellent sources for this topic.HINT: For a full list of article databases, go to Research Databases and use the barcode number from your Lone Star College ID or library card to login.
Note: To access these databases from off campus, students may login with the barcode number from their Lone Star College ID or library card using the links above.
|Librarian Talk . . . About the Internet!
The Internet will be a wonderful source of original documents. Browse the sites we have suggested below. Remember, you do want to find reputable sites. Look at:
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GETTING HELP FOR YOUR ASSIGNMENT
|Librarian Talk about getting help!
Support for a successful paper is more than finding the right resources. Putting it all together takes time and effort. Sometimes it takes additional help from the librarians or tutors. Please consider the following resources if you need additional help. Remember, the expert on the assignment is your professor; use the LSC-Online in-class email to contact her.
Citing Sources Using MLA Style | Lone Star College-Kingwood Library guide. Examples of both paper and electronic citations.
Avoiding Plagiarism | Excellent information and guide on how to avoid plagiarism from the Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University.
University of Texas Copyright Crash Course | This helpful guide on copyright is suggested by Lone Star College-Kingwood Teaching and Learning Center.
The Learning Center | Check the TLC hours for in-house tutoring.
Page by Bettye Sutton, 2001. Rev. 9/2012 B.Bradley