What views of 'mankind' does the Romantic writer, Mary Shelley, present in Frankenstein?

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What views of ‘mankind’ does the Romantic writer, Mary Shelley, present in Frankenstein?

Mary Shelley was writing shortly after the French Revolution and at a time when numerous scientific theories were being put forward. She was the daughter of two radical thinkers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, married to the romantic poet Percy Shelley and she was very well read. Hence it was inevitable that her view of ‘mankind’ would incorporate many different aspects.

At the start of the book we see the romantic character Walton preparing to set out on a journey of discovery to the North Pole. Walton exhibits many aspects of the romantic – he is self-educated, has a love of nature, he is ambitious wanting to discover a passage to the North Pole: ‘I am going to unexplored regions to ‘the land of mist and snow’; but I shall kill no albatross.’ and he sees the importance of friendship and feels the lack of it has a serious disadvantage ‘I bitterly feel the want of a friend’. Shelley has used the epistolary style of writing in this part of the novel and this enables the reader to quickly get into the story and creates an air of realism.

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Walton’s ambitions are a mirror of Frankenstein’s and we see two characters  who have become obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge believing that they are doing it for the good of mankind rather than any material wealth. Walton’s ‘insanity’ being mirrored by Frankenstein being ‘deeply smitten with the thirst for knowledge’.

Frankenstein’s family are seen as a benevolent group of people. His first memories are of his ‘mothers soft caresses and his father’s smile of benevolent pleasure.

However we soon see that these benevolent people are not typical of all the characters in the novel. Instead we ...

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