There are some writers, that are loved but by their contemporaries but are completely forgotten after their death. But some writers’ books are created to be read and appreciated by next generations. One of such prominent authors is Mary Shelley. She was a famous dramatist, essayist, and biographer. During her lifetime she was widely known as a writer. However, after her death, she was mainly known only as Percy Shelley’s wife and the author of Frankenstein.
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Until the last years, the main part of her works was out of print and wasn’t therefore available to the reader. But nowadays her works regain their value. She is now considered to be a major Romantic figure, which is significant for her literature contribution and her political works. I would like to write a book on her because I consider her a wonderful example of a self-made woman.
My book will consist of three parts. It will be dealt with Mary Shelley’s biography and will also contain a detailed analysis of the most famous of all her books, Frankenstein.
The first part will contain Mary Shelley’s biography. I would write mainly about her young years because they give us a bright idea of Mary Shelley as a brave woman. I will write about her childhood when she started to write her stories. Being a young girl she left her father and decided to be with the man she loved. When married she could be only Shelley’s wife, but she managed to gain fame. I will try to provide some information on her personality and character.
The second part will be dealt with Frankenstein as the most famous of her works. In the first chapter, I would describe the story of the creation of the novel.
Mary Shelley began working on her Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus when she was only 19. This all started on Lake Geneva in 1816 when Mary, her would-be husband, Percy Shelley, and their friend Lord Byron invented a ghost-story contest. I will write about their rest and Shelley’s first ideas in the novel.
In the second chapter, I would give the summary of the book, providing quotations and comments of different critics.
Robert Walton, an English ship’s captain, writes letters to his sister Margaret. He tells her about his nautical travel to the North Pole. During a sail near Archangel in Russia, His ship becomes trapped in ice. There the sailors notice a figure running at superhuman speed and a man pursuing him. They take the man, Frankenstein, onboard, and he tells Walton his story. Walton then includes it in a letter to Margaret.
Frankenstein tells about his childhood in Geneva: about his parents, Alphonse Frankenstein and Caroline Beaufort. Caroline’s father was a friend of Alfonse’s, and after his death, the young people married. Victor was their first child, and he had two younger brothers, Ernest and William. After Alphonse’s sister dies, the family adopts her daughter Elizabeth and brings her up together with the other children. Victor and Elizabeth become best friends, and together with their friend Clerval, they have a wonderful time.
Victor becomes interested in works by such mystical alchemists and philosophers as Paracelsus and Cornelius Agrippa. Elizabeth and Henry Clerval do not share his interest. Victor is fascinated by the idea of creating the elixir of eternal life.
Elizabeth fells ill, and though she recovers Caroline Frankenstein catches the fever and dies soon. She says she wants Victor and Elizabeth to marry someday. After mourning the death of his mother Frankenstein enters the University of Ingolstadt. There he meets Krempe, a professor of science. The professor offers him a modern course of reading, but Frankenstein is not impressed by it. But when he meets another professor, Waldman, he regains his interest in chemistry. Frankenstein begins to work hard, making fast progress I his knowledge.
Obsessed with his studies, Frankenstein neglects his family and friends. In two years he manages to discover the secret of the principle of life. He wants to create a new race. On one November night, he brings to life a lifeless matter. But when the creature opens its eyes, Frankenstein runs away in horror. He has a nightmare about Elizabeth who turns into his dead mother. The Creature disappears. Frankenstein is seriously ill. With the help of Clerval, he recovers.
They soon find out about the strangling death of William, Victor’s brother. Back in Geneva Victor spots the Creature. He is sure that it killed his brother.
At the court, Justine Moritz, the Frankensteins’ servant, is found guilty and executed. Victor accuses himself of being a true murderer.
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In Mont Blanc Frankenstein meets the creature who tells his story. He describes his sensory impressions and first experiences. He inspires terror in villagers who happen to see him. He learns some language and learns to read. The Creature discovers his origin in Frankenstein’s journal and decides to meet his creator. In Geneva, he encounters a young boy, William Frankenstein, and kills him after the latter refuses to become his friend. The Creature demands Frankenstein to create a female for him.
Frankenstein is going to marry Elizabeth, but first, he wants to fulfill his promise and create a mate for the Creature. But he is terrified of creating a race of devils, and that is why he destroys the female. He is relieved to escape the Creature following him but is accused of the murder of Clerval. He lapses into a fever for months. Then he is free of charges, and he resolves to marry Elizabeth at once. On their wedding night Frankenstein finds Elizabeth’s lifeless body. Victor’s father dies. Frankenstein decides to destroy the Creature.
Two days later Walton resolves to return home to England. Frankenstein wants to continue northward, but he is ill and dies. The Creature finds him and then springs out of the window into the waves.
In the third chapter, there will be some comments from her contemporaries. It would be interesting to compare different approaches to the topic. What is interesting is that Frankenstein was firstly considered to be more like a science fiction book. I would also compare it with the modern look of the novel when is mainly regarded as a horror movie staple.
In chapter four I Would give some information about different dramatizations of Frankenstein, that are numerous.
The novel went on to enjoy immediate although not unequivocal success. However, not until the production of Richard Brinsley Peake’s Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein in 1823 would the tale of Frankenstein again stimulate the general public enough for a publisher to issue a second edition of the novel. Moreover, Peake’s melodrama instigated not only the 1823 edition by G. and W. B. Whittaker, but an equal interest in dramatizing Shelley’s novel. Within three years of the first performance of Peake Presumption, fourteen other English and French dramatizations had utilized the Frankenstein theme. To date over ninety dramatizations of Frankenstein have been undertaken. (Forry 9)
In the third part, which will be the conclusion, I will speak about the topicality of the Frankenstein theme today. is not merely a horror movie staple. On some level, it is as famous and popular as Dracula and the Wolf Man. But this monster is a powerful symbol of the fear of humanity facing the results of technical progress. This problem is extremely topical today when people regard the technologies which they created. Nobody can predict the results of such a high speed of science development. It is especially true when it comes to genetic engineering, potential dangers of which are not studied yet.
This book will be about 60 pages. It can be written in a year.
It book will be interesting for a wide audience. As for schoolchildren and students, it will help them in their Literature lessons. It will provide interesting information which they can use in their essays and research works. As for grown-ups who love cinema and literature it would be interesting to read about different regards at the story. There are many films based on Frankenstein, so for adults, it will be interesting to read about these films and therefore watch them.
There are lots of books about Mary Shelley, but most of them are too specific. As for my book, it will include not only Mary Shelley’s biography but also interesting facts about her and comments on her best novel. So you don’t have to read many books to find all this information.
Forry, Steven Earl. Hideous Progenies: Dramatizations of Frankenstein from Mary Shelley to the Present. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990.
Nitchie, Elizabeth. Mary Shelley: Author of “Frankenstein”. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1970.
Fisch, Audrey A., Anne K. Mellor, and Esther H. Schor, eds. The Other Mary Shelley: Beyond Frankenstein. New York: Oxford University Press, 1993.
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft. Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. New York: Collier Books, 1961.