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Literary theory- new historicism applied to Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

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New Historicism What is it? New Historicism Criticism attempts to relive a textual work through the time of the author who created it, taking into account norms, ideals, prejudices, and any other subjective experiences that the author of the time would hold. Basically, a literary theory that suggests that literature must be studied and interpreted within the context of both history of the author and history of critic and time period. Historical Context New Historicism is the modified and contemporary version of Historicism and challenges literary critiques to evaluate a text not only based on how it mirrors the historical background of society and literary qualities of a work of literature but also the social sphere and cultural aspects of the text. New Historicism Historicism The social environment in which the author lived How a literary work reflects the society and time period it was created in. Psychological background of writer (mental state) Books and literary theories that influenced the author The beliefs of the critics? beliefs, social status and prejudice New Historicism focus on analyzing and critiquing text through knowledge of the social, political, historical and cultural forces that interrelate with the text and with the writer of the text. ...read more.


Literary analysts believe that Shelley?s novel acted as a tool for her to reflect her personal experiences into her writing. This personal revelation of Shelley?s mental and familial state allow readers to comprehend the depth and true meaning of Frankenstein by understanding the hardships faced by the author that caused Shelly to produced a literary masterpiece. Using New Historicism one is able to conclude that Shelley used her beliefs on the French Revolution, beliefs of feminism, and familial ties as an advantage to create Frankenstein. French Revolution of 1787 is said to be the most controversial historical act in the classification of what constitutes what human beings deserve and what they receive. Shelley?s novel discusses the aftermath of the iconic revolution. Since Shelley lived in England during the publication of Frankenstein, she witnessed the impact on the public of Europe, and the freedom sensed once the oppression of the middle class or bourgeoisie was lifted. Shelly connects the French Revolution to her literary masterpiece my painting the scene of the outcome of the revolution in her novel. Furthermore, Shelley evidently displays ?the idealistic desire to liberate all men from the oppression of tyranny and mortality? (Boyd). ...read more.


Mary Shelley?s challenging life is portrayed through her novel by showing her value of family and life. In Shelley?s private journal she writes about a peculiar dream; ?Dreamt that my little baby came to life again; that it had only been cold, and that we rubbed it before the fire, and it lived. Awake and find no baby. I think about the little thing all day.? In this passage Shelley had a dream in bringing her deceased child back to life through ?fire? Shelley creates a tone of pity and compassion, she appeals to mothers and describes how the loss of a loved one can make one think the impossible. Much like Victor, Shelley dreamt to play God and take fate into her hands, to make something so unnatural seem acceptable. The monster that Victor sought to create is a direct reflection of what derives people to insanity. The affect of loneliness and the desire to create compelled Victor and Shelley to defy nature and the difference between logic and emotion. Boyd, Stephen. "Frankenstein as a Novel." Mary Shelley: Frankenstein. Harlow, Essex: Longman and York Notes, 1994. 52-55. ...read more.

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