GCSE: Mary Shelley

Meet the team of inpirational teachers who mark our essays

find out about the team

Join Marked by Teachers to get help from over 80 teachers and 180,000 essays

Mary Shelly's biography

  1. 1 Mary Shelley was born in London in 1797, daughter of William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft, who were famous writers of the day. Her father was a political writer and her mother was a pioneer feminist writer.
  2. 2 Mary’s mother died ten days after her birth so she was brought up by her father who made sure she was educated well, by him and tutors, but her education failed to give her the emotional support she needed from a mother.
  3. 3 In 1814, through her father’s literary connections, she met and fell in love with the then unknown, but already married, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and in July they eloped to the Continent. In 1816, after Shelley’s first wife Harriet committed suicide, Mary and Percy were married.
  4. 4 Mary Shelley’s life with Percy was destined to be full of hardship and death; she bore four children but only one survived, Percy Florence. They lived in Italy from 1818 until 1822, when Shelley drowned, following his boat capsizing in a storm.
  5. 5 Mary returned to London with her son where she continued to live a very simple and difficult life as a professional writer until her death in 1851.

About the novel

  1. 1 Frankenstein or The Modern Prometheus is a novel about a failed experiment that produced a monster. Shelley started writing the story when she was eighteen, and the novel was published when she was twenty-one. The first edition was published anonymously in London in 1818. Mary Shelley’s name appears on the second edition, published in France in 1823.
  2. 2 The story is set in the Geneva area where Mary Shelley and her future husband Percy Bysshe Shelley had travelled to with a group of other young writers of the Romantic movement. They were young and liberal-minded and their discussions included some of the ideas seen in the novel - galvanism, scientific developments and the occult.
  3. 3 Mary Shelley was talking with her three writer friends, Percy, Lord Byron, and John Polidori, when they decided they would have a competition to see who could write the best horror story. After thinking for weeks about what her possible storyline could be, Mary Shelley dreamt about a scientist who created life and was horrified when he saw his creation.
  4. 4 Frankenstein is infused with many elements of the Gothic novel and the Romantic movement and is also considered to be one of the earliest examples of science fiction. The novel has had a considerable influence across literature and popular culture and spawned a complete genre of horror stories and films.
  5. 5 The structure of Frankenstein begins in epistolary form with four letters from Robert Walton to his sister Margaret wherein he describes his experiences and his meeting with Frankenstein. After the fourth letter we have Frankenstein’s narrative then the Creature’s narrative, and the novel ends with Walton again addressing his sister, reminding the reader that the whole novel is, in fact, one long letter.

Writing about 'Frankenstein'

  1. 1 It is important to know the social, cultural and historical background of the text. Having this knowledge will help you better understand why Mary Shelley wrote the novel and how many aspects of her life are reflected in the characters and the themes.
  2. 2 You must show good understanding of the main characters and how they interact with each other - Robert Walton, Victor Frankenstein, and the Creature - and how they relate to other characters. The characters are revealed through a variety of stylistic features: letters, description, parallels and juxtaposition, the different narratives and how the characters communicate with each other.
  3. 3 There are several themes running throughout the novel: death, creation, isolation, prejudice, nature/nurture, fate and destiny, fathers and sons, dreams and religion.

    You must understand how the themes are woven through the text and how they link directly to the characters and the society portrayed in the novel. For example, both Frankenstein and the Creature link to the theme of isolation because Frankenstein chose to isolate himself from society when he was creating his being, whereas the Creature was isolated from society because of his unnatural appearance and subsequent rejection by everyone.
  4. 4 You must be able to analyse how Mary Shelley has used narrative structure, description, character development and language to create effects - her description and use of pathetic fallacy create a Gothic atmosphere and mood. Detailed analysis of these techniques is needed to achieve a high grade.
  5. 5 You must develop your own critical sense and personal response to the novel, showing that you have thought about it, and that you have ideas and reactions of your own, not just those of your teacher. You must never write to a formula or try to recreate an essay you have previously done; you must approach every essay with a fresh, open mind.

686 GCSE Mary Shelley essays

  • Marked by Teachers essays 16
  • Peer Reviewed essays 12
  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. 4
  5. 69
  1. Marked by a teacher

    Chapter five is the pivotal point in the book, it's the point when Frankenstein creates the monster and his actions set off what's about to happen throughout the book.

    4 star(s)

    ****
    A good GCSE essay - accurate use of appropriate technical vocabulary and some excellent analysis of language. The main strength of this essay is the writer's ability to look…

    • Essay length: 1279 words
    • Submitted: 03/05/2012
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Katie Dixon 29/04/2012
  2. Marked by a teacher

    The Novel Frankenstein is as relevant and as terrifying today as it was when it was first published in 1818. Discuss.

    4 star(s)

    A well written, fluent and engaging essay which successfully answers the set question. Good knowledge and understanding of the novel and why Shelley wrote it, and some thoughtful and…

    • Essay length: 2446 words
    • Submitted: 14/04/2011
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Lynne Jung 10/04/2012
  3. Marked by a teacher

    Evaluate the methods used by Shelley to present the relationship between the Creature and Victor, the creator

    4 star(s)

    ****
    This is a good answer to a difficult question. The essay remains focused on the question and chooses to deal with setting and religion. The religious part of the…

    • Essay length: 1276 words
    • Submitted: 04/12/2010
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Katie Dixon 29/05/2012
  4. Marked by a teacher

    Compare the two chapters which describe the creation of Frankenstein(TM)s monster.

    4 star(s)

    An interesting and well written essay and the writer is obviously a very capable student who knows the novel well.
    The very good points of this essay are the perceptive…

    • Essay length: 2181 words
    • Submitted: 14/04/2009
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Katie Dixon 29/04/2012
  5. Marked by a teacher

    Which Character Did Mary Shelley Intend For The Reader to Have Most Sympathy On: Frankenstein or His Creation?

    4 star(s)

    This essay shows an articulate, well informed understanding of the novel and the context it was written in. With more frequent quotations, concise narration and more emphasis on our response…

    • Essay length: 1287 words
    • Submitted: 19/03/2008
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Karen Reader 08/05/2012
  6. Marked by a teacher

    With Relation to social/historical context, how does Mary Shelley explore the theme of monstrosity in chapter five of Frankenstein?

    4 star(s)

    This essay shows a good understanding of both text and context, but a more detailed reference to both would have given it a top rating. The arguments are addressed clearly…

    • Essay length: 1098 words
    • Submitted: 05/03/2008
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Karen Reader 08/05/2012
  7. Marked by a teacher

    "Who is the Real Monster in Frankenstein, Victor or his Creation?"

    4 star(s)

    A good analysis that evaluates language, structure and form and considers how they are used to shape meaning.
    Make sure that quotes are analysed at word level so consideration of…

    • Essay length: 1457 words
    • Submitted: 18/11/2004
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Laura Gater 29/05/2013
  8. Marked by a teacher

    Compare the two books Frankenstein and Jurassic Park and pay particular attention to the language used, time in which the book was written and any other issues raised.

    4 star(s)

    Some good points made but not always expressed as coherently as they could be.
    Make sure that if you are comparing two texts that is actually what happens and very…

    • Essay length: 1709 words
    • Submitted: 11/07/2002
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Laura Gater 29/05/2013
  9. Marked by a teacher

    How does Mary Shelley make the description of the monster waking in chapter five of "Frankenstein" powerful and dramatic

    3 star(s)

    Shows some understanding of the character of Frankenstein and some comments on the language Shelley uses in chapter 5. More detailed analysis is needed and better focus on the…

    • Essay length: 1132 words
    • Submitted: 02/01/2012
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Lynne Jung 10/04/2012
    • Reviewed by: (?) groat 13/04/2012
  10. Marked by a teacher

    Explore the way Mary Shelley presents the character of the Monster in Frankenstein

    3 star(s)

    ***
    This essay has the potential to be excellent. It is well written and well structured and remains focused on the question. It offers alternative interpretations and discusses the main…

    • Essay length: 3130 words
    • Submitted: 13/03/2011
    • Marked by teacher: (?) Katie Dixon 29/05/2012

Conclusion analysis

Good conclusions usually refer back to the question or title and address it directly - for example by using key words from the title.
How well do you think these conclusions address the title or question? Answering these questions should help you find out.

  1. Do they use key words from the title or question?
  2. Do they answer the question directly?
  3. Can you work out the question or title just by reading the conclusion?
  • "Considering the social ideals of time, discuss the social restraints of the female characters compared with the freedoms of the male".

    "In conclusion, it is quite obvious that there were strong constraints upon the women, that is, that they were weaker, bringing around the restraints like the men should be the ones to earn the money, while the women are the ones to stay at home with the house, also other factors like the men have freedom, not so much the women. With further people taking this more seriously, the men become the ones who later feel it is their job to protect the women and the like. It is clear that these ideas were shown in the book 'Frankenstein', most probably to help her make the book seem more realistic. The characters split into two groups: males and females, act as nearly complete opposites and like how I first mentioned in the introduction, i.e. the men go out to work while the women stay at home. Probably the best comparison of these is Victor and Elizabeth, the two main characters of their sex in the book, who display all that I have said in this essay, almost in a copied manner. Jason Dealey English Coursework-Frankenstein Miss Kitson 10N W28 Page 1"

  • Compare the two books Frankenstein and Jurassic Park and pay particular attention to the language used, time in which the book was written and any other issues raised.

    "language was clearer. Another part of it would have to be that I found it easier to relate with the characters in Jurassic Park as they seemed more normal than good old Victor and of course being from the same period of time as them helps. Chricton's book gives the reader more of an action packed thrill ride, whereas Shelly's was more of an emotional book although still gruesome and quite enjoyable and it is much more mature book and didn't give u the impression it is deliberately accessible it also is a lot more personal and had Shelly's views all the way through but between the lines. But a great man once said: "Don't let acceptance exempt your expression.""

  • With Particular reference to chapters 5 and 11, compare and contrast the Authors portrayal of Victor and the creature in "Frankenstein".

    "In conclusion, Shelly has created two very extreme characters that given different circumstances could have flourished with one another, yet quite the contrary happens with them leading to each others destruction. It asks many questions about the morality and ethics surrounding science and inspires responsibility above all else upon the scientists both to think about what they are doing and also why they are doing what they are doing. Answering the why can sometimes be very much more difficult than answering what. By Andy Lawson 11I"

Marked by a teacher

This essay has been marked by one of our great teachers. You can read the full teachers notes when you download the essay.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review on the essay page.

Peer reviewed

This essay has been reviewed by one of our specialist student essay reviewing squad. Read the full review under the essay preview on this page.