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GCSE: Mary Shelley

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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.

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  1. Frankenstein" by Mary ShelleyFrom your reading of the novel, say whether or not Victor Frankenstein is more monstrous than the monster whom he creates.

    He also presents great affection towards Elizabeth and Caroline when they catch Scarlet fever, as he delays his departure to Ingolstadt. In addition, he describes the bond between him and his mother using the words "dearest ties". Up till now, we have seen Victor as noble and kind person, who is ambitious to make something of his life. We can see that he has respect for everyone, and a strong love for family and people close to him. But there is a change in character when Victor goes to Ingolstadt.

    • Word count: 2776
  2. Kenneth Brannaghs Frankenstein.

    The sequence begins with Victor arriving at the university of Indolstadt and meeting Professor Waldman. The professor agrees to help Frankenstein with his work as he has also been working on it for years but the experiment has never been successful. Whilst victor is getting help from the professor, Cholera breaks out and the professor, amongst others, dies. Victor steals Waldmans journals and learns what he needs to add to his experiments to make them successful. Victor sneaks off to graveyards, slaughterhouses and dissecting rooms.

    • Word count: 995
  3. "'Frankenstein' uses many characteristics of the Gothic genre to arouse the interest of the reader. However Shelley also uses a range of techniques to ensure this engagement."

    These explorations into the darker side of humanity are part of why 'Frankenstein' has become such a successful tale. Mary Shelley wrote 'Frankenstein' in 1831, at the latter end of the Gothic period and as a consequence, her gothic tale also reflects social changes. 'Frankenstein' encompasses science-fiction, less of the supernatural and more of the psychological exploration of man's psyche. There are also influences from the Romantic Movement. Nevertheless, it remains a gothic novel which arouses the reader's interest throughout. Shelley often conforms to the use of setting at climatic points to engage the reader. Victor's laboratory is described as 'my workshop of filthy creation' the suggestion of evil and wrong-doing are implicit.

    • Word count: 2865
  4. In my assignment I am going to discuss the beliefs and attitudes of the time that Frankenstein was written and also discuss th

    Surging the energy through it would contort the body and would begin to have movement this is like our defibrillation that we use now. The society of Mary Shelly's time had an interest in the supernatural and terror horror theme that was in Frankenstein. Frankenstein also involved Gothic Romance, A Gothic novel or Romance is when you use dark terror and death and gothic settings. Frankenstein has many of these techniques that include graveyards moonlight, dissecting rooms that were used to create an eerie monstrous atmosphere.

    • Word count: 1097
  5. Halloween - creative writing.

    The roads were packed, it was extremely foggy and everyone was full of anger for they were going late .They were all quiet until I said "hit the gas" My father started accelerating fast there by the convent and from no where, came out this fat ,greasy bald headed man . Phil hit the brakes fast in a tantrum, and started swearing at the guy "what the f#*@ do you think your doing, you could have got us all killed." The man was speechless "ssssorrry mate." He said stuttering."

    • Word count: 582
  6. Do you think Mary Shelly makes the reader fear or sympathize with the creature created by Victor Frankenstein

    a scary thought to any reader "and my candle was nearly burnt out," so it was going to be hard to see anything that may be shocking, scary or fearful in this scene. Then he jumps straight into the creature's rebirth by saying, "I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open" for a lifeless body to have its eye just open and look around, especially for a creature such as this one with its enormous stature and fearful design it would give the impression that something scary is going to happen.

    • Word count: 2064
  7. I am going to explore the character of Victor Frankenstein in the opening chapters of the novel. Showing his ambitious, arrogant and insane side in the novel. This novel was written in the eighteenth

    Firstly, this novel is using flashback on Frankenstein's life to tell the reader. In the beginning of the novel, Shelley introduces Walton to the reader before she introduces Victor to the reader. The reason for that is because Shelley wants the reader to compare the character of Walton and Victor. In Walton's letter, there's a quote that Victor said to Walton "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!" This is like a warning for Walton and the reader from Victor.

    • Word count: 1815
  8. Who is the real monster, Frankenstein or his creation?

    She is trying to emphasise the point that his appearance doesn't reflect his inner being. Inside he's a beautiful butterfly. Other conventions of a gothic horror novels which are definitely specific to Frankenstein is the use of pathetic fallacy; after being informed of his younger brother's death and returning to his home town the weather is stormy and reflective of the events which have occurred. The dark and dank settings used in Frankenstein are another superb example of necessary conventions for a gothic horror, ones such as the charnel houses and the laboratory where the creature's parts were found and put together, respectively.

    • Word count: 1651
  9. Focussing on chapter 5, discuss the central themes of fatherhood and the way the creature is judged by its appearance in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. The novel Frankenstein was written by Mary Shelley in 1818.

    Victor creates the female then destroys it the creature says he will be with victor on his wedding night. Victor marries Elizabeth the creature kills Elizabeth and runs away. Victor vows to devote the rest of his life to finding the creature. He finds the creature then becomes ill and dies the creature dies over victor this would not have happened if Victor had been a good father to the creature. When the book was being written scientists were discussing the possibility of bringing back the dead to life Luigi Galavani brought some dead tissue of a frog back to life using electricity people were concerned that scientists were playing god.

    • Word count: 807
  10. In the 21st Century what is the enduring appeal of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

    Its sophisticated language and interesting structure makes this novel appealing to the modern reader. "Frankenstein" is undoubtedly one of the greatest gothic novels ever written. It was written in the gothic horror tradition which means Shelley emphasises the grotesque elements, the mysterious, the desolate environments, the horrible and terrifying and, ultimately, the abject fear which can be aroused in the reader which is at the heart of its appeal. Throughout the novel, Shelley keeps a sense of mystery and remoteness by use of wild and desolate backgrounds to the events taking place. She uses indefinite locations such as somewhere in Ireland and "some remote spot of Scotland" and places which would be unfamiliar to the reader.

    • Word count: 1814
  11. I am studying the gothic tale of Frankenstein written by Mary Shelly. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was born in London. Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft died of puerperal fever 10 days after giving birth to her. She was one of the first feminists

    He fell in love with his step sister Elizabeth but she had a disease which could be cured but very un luckily her mother catches it when she was pregnant so she died giving birth to Frankenstein's little brother. Before she died, she had told Elizabeth to live a long life with Frankenstein, to love and care his little brother, and to act has his mother. Clerval was going to go along with Frankenstein but his dad didn't want him to study but Clerval wanted to, so he very upset that he cannot follow his ambitions where as Frankenstein could.

    • Word count: 711
  12. In Chapter 5, Frankenstein brings the Creature to Life. How Important is the Theme of Birth, Childhood and Parenthood in the Novel?

    I agree with Mary Shelly's sacrifice of believability, as the reader's sympathy is very important to the story. In the first chapters of the story, Frankenstein shares his childhood experiences with Walton and how his parents were devoted to him loved him unconditionally, to whom he claims he owes his good nature. A good example of this is: "With this deep consciousness of what they owed towards the being to which they had given life...it may be imagined that while during every hour of my infant life I received a lesson of patience, of charity and of self-control."

    • Word count: 1672
  13. 'Frankenstein is full of ideas and warnings which are relevant to a modern audience.' -Discuss the enduring appeal of the novel.

    She realized that what terrified her would also terrify others, and so she formulated her story. Frankenstein has prevailed for many different reasons including some of the following; * It is interesting and has been very well written. * It is a provocative gothic novel with an appeal of mystery. * It raises all sorts of (moral) issues throughout- some that have been explored in the text are still relevant to today's world (prejudice, parenting, morality, and scientific advances.) There is no doubt that many factors influenced and inspired Shelley to write Frankenstein; we know that she had learned about various philosophical and scientific doctrines.

    • Word count: 4007
  14. Explore Mary Shelly's Presentation Of Alienation In Her Novel "Frankenstein"

    This demonstrates that he knows what he is doing. But he puts himself though it any way. This may have been seen as brave or heroic in Mary Shelly's time. Now as the North Pole and other far-flung places have been explored, it would be seen as an attempt to break a world record, or a technical scientific experiment. If maps are needed, then satellites make them for us, but back then maps were needed and the only way of making one was to go there your self. Another point is that Walton doesn't seem to communicate with his crew.

    • Word count: 1074
  15. Design the opening set for Yerma. The name "Yerma" means "Barren" and it is an appallingly appropriate name for the heroine of the play,

    This will be Yermas section and she will always return there throughout the play. The thrust section will also represent some other things such as Yermas interactions with other characters such as Juan, Maria, Victor, Pagan Woman, the two Girls, and Dolores, whereas the main stage area will be used to represent locations such as Juans home, The fast flowing waters of the washerwomen scene, the house of Dolores and the shrine at the Romeria. On the opening scene there will be 'see through' curtains, as the play opens with Yerma dreaming.

    • Word count: 779
  16. Look at the significance of chapter five to the novel as a whole. Focus on the relevance and effect of writer's use of language to describe setting, character and what it shows about social and historical influences. "Frankenstein"

    The novel Frankenstein is a message to people not to interfere with the course of nature. In the novel Frankenstein, one of the most crucial moments is in Chapter 5. This is the section of the novel where the creature comes to life and victor accomplishes his long awaited project. Chapter 5 not only contains the crucial moment but also gives an inside view of the significance it has. Chapter 5 is an important chapter because tension is created here, since no one knows whether the experiment he is doing will be successful. This builds up the excitement as well as the tension, and when the creature comes to life, this develops the tension even more, as Victor isn't happy with his creation.

    • Word count: 3254
  17. Mary Shelly - Frankenstein Mary Shelly uses several different styles of writing in chapter five to develop the atmosphere. Primarily she uses

    The actual reanimation of the monster is extremely adverse to the more stereotypical versions, as Shelly doesn't focus on the machines and electricity involved, which are meaningless elements of the act. Instead her focus is on the life itself and its effect on Dr. Frankenstein. He is desperately anxious but not only in a negative sense. He can't contain himself that finally this creature will be alive, so he's in agony due to waiting, but the pain is worth the great moment about to come.

    • Word count: 1619
  18. 'The novel is a powerful examination of, challenge to, what is good and evil in man and therefore society.'From your understanding of Frankenstein, discuss your response to the above opinions.

    By doing so, I will effectively seek to undermine and disprove such issues by providing my own argument, by analysing the evidence in support of my opinions and therefore disprove the contradictory opinions effectively. Throughout this essay, in order to demonstrate the extent to which my own interpretation is true, I will explore and analyse Shelley's use of contrasting themes within the text. I will primarily explore the main theme that the text offers; the juxtaposition and constant conflict between the themes of good and evil.

    • Word count: 8278
  19. With Reference to chapter five in Frankenstein explore how Shelley presents Victor and the Monster.

    Mary was 21 years of age when the book Frankenstein was finally published which she had started writing when she was just 18. The story Frankenstein deals with an audacious and ambitious young scientist. He creates life but then rejects his creation, "A monster" Mary Shelley was the first person narrator when writing Frankenstein. This is very useful as Shelley is able to go into immense detail about both characters Victor and Frankenstein she is able to really exploit how both characters feel and act.

    • Word count: 812

    These memories struck a chord in her imagination and it influenced Mary to write the novel. In the 19th century medicine was not as sophisticated as it is today and dissection was illegal. This meant that more people were dying and the urge for scientific discoveries increased. Mary was impressed and influenced by the whole scientific and medical references made. Her parents were both revolutionists therefore she also had an interest in revolutionary. By the age of 17 Mary Shelley gave birth to a baby girl 2 months prematurely. The baby was to die afterwards and after it did she was left with haunting nightmares.

    • Word count: 4995
  21. The development of thought on Frankenstein It is a story of horrors that has been, over time, adopted into cinema and television alike. However, the original story of Frankenstein written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley from 1816 to 1817

    He subjectively critiques Mary's novel and state's it to be "a tissue of horrible and disgusting absurdity..." and says that "the dreams of insanity are embodied in the strong and striking language of the insane..."(249) He then goes on to suggest that the author is in fact mad. His focus on the state of the author's mind with no concern for external factors proves his theory to be Romantic. He states that in crediting Frankenstein with its ability to "appall the mind and make the flesh creep"(249) we have bestowed enough credit already. With this judgment, Croker conveys his contempt for horror and his desire for a happier subject, which would "amuse or amend"(249)

    • Word count: 3052
  22. 'Frankenstein' addresses many important ideas which were controversial at the time, and which have remained controversial. Discuss these issues in relation to Chapter 5 in particular and in the novel as a whole.

    Much like her childhood, Mary Shelley had a dream about the story she should write. In chapter five in the novel, Victor Frankenstein has a dream which turns into a nightmare, like the dream Shelley had to write Frankenstein. Her husband encouraged her to further her ideas and in 1818 Frankenstein was first published. At the time that Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein, many scientists were experimenting with the idea of bringing dead humans and animals, back to life. Many of these were performed by passing an electrical current through the dead tissue, and stimulating the muscles so they would move.

    • Word count: 1877
  23. In Mary Shelley's book Frankenstein she builds up a feeling of horror by describing each and every setting very carefully to build up an atmosphere to make you feel scared.

    This then builds a feeling of suspense and tension until the monster wakes up. When the monster has woken up this is the first time he is actually described in the book. He is described as having wavy black hair straight black lips and pale eyes and it's at this moment that victor realises what he's done and abandons his creation. In this chapter of the book Mary shelly built up a feeling of horror by describing a dull and dreary setting its dark with dim light a storm outside and a monster coming to life Another good example of

    • Word count: 713
  24. Understanding Frankenstein?

    The boy then told the creature "my papa is a syndic he is M. Frankenstein that was when the creature became furious, because of what he had discovered. The creature grasped William's throat to silence him and killed him instantly. We encouraged to understand things from the creatures perspective because of the way he is just abandoned by Victor and the way in which the Delacey's deserted him and we also sympathise with him when he is shot by the father of the young girl that he saved from drowning.

    • Word count: 1187
  25. What effects does Kenneth Branagh employ in the "Creation Scene" in the film "Mary Shelly's Frankenstein"?

    A boxer might wear this type of cape before he begins to fight to show that he is scared of nothing and is a hard man. Branagh, knowing this, is trying to project it on Victor. Victor has got nothing else on his top half but on his bottom half he has tatty trousers and shoes to show that he hasn't had much time to spend on appearance. Another technique Branagh uses to make Victor seem strong and/or bold is by filming him through a low angle shot, making it seem like he is towering above everyone else.

    • Word count: 1887

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