Frankenstein and Shelley: the author and her work

Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Southern New Hampshire University
When writing Frankenstein as a young, impressionable woman, Mary Shelley was heavily influenced by the works and legacies created by both her parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. Godwin and Wollstonecraft made their names in the world with their revolutionary ideas written out in books spread in Europe; with large shoes to fill as their daughter, Mary Shelley knew that she needed her own revolutionary work to move the world like they did. Because of this connection of legacy with her parents, many themes and lessons concerning her parents are featured in her novel, Frankenstein. The absence of her mother, who died ten days after giving birth to Mary Shelley, created the absence of a father in Victor Frankenstein for his creature. Mary as a child was tutored by her father in many subjects that would not normally be taught to females in this time period. That learning allowed her to include the subjects of science, humanities, and literature in her novel. In this paper, I will explain how knowing about Mary Shelley’s connection with her parents shaped her life and learning, by extension shaping her novel, Frankenstein. I will be looking at primary source materials by William Godwin, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Mary Shelley to note the connections between the texts, as well as secondary sources concerning Mary Shelley and her influences when it came to writing Frankenstein. I also will be looking at biographies of Mary Shelley’s life in order to relate her story to Frankenstein’s and the creature’s stories. The parallel between the author and the characters is essential in understanding the importance of Shelley’s parents in shaping her not only as an author, but as a woman in the Romantic Era. (Author abstract)