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Essay on the Influence of Mary Shelley’s Life on Frankenstein

Influence of Mary Shelley’s Life on Frankenstein

Since its publication in 1818, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has grown to become a name associated with horror and science fiction. To fully understand the importance and origin of this novel, we must look at both the tragedies of Mary Shelley’s background and her own origins. Only then can we begin to examine what the icon “Frankenstein” has become in today’s society.

Mary Godwin was born in London in 1797 to prominent philosopher William Godwin and well-known feminist and author Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin. Shortly after Mary’s birth, her mother died of complications from childbirth, and this event set the stage for the strained relationship between Mary and her father. Godwin blamed Mary for her mother’s death and put her in the care of her unqualified stepmother, who favored her own children and forced Mary to do tedious housework. Godwin felt that punishing Mary would satisfy his grief, and consequently Mary became withdrawn in her studies. Her talent for writing is believed to have saved her from premature suicide.

Possibly as an attempt to be accepted by her father, Mary immersed herself in literary studies and her father’s intellectual conversations with other philosophers. She attempted to compete with her mother’s legacy by continuously writing. It was reported that Mary’s “attempts to compete with her dead mother reached obsessive proportions by the time she turned seventeen.” “When Mary was seventeen,” writes Samuel Rosenburg, “she began taking her books and writing material to the nearby Old St. Pancras Church, where her parents had been married and where her mother was buried. There, seated in the graveyard behind the church, th…

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…ience fiction. From this novel, many other versions have spawned, each one versions of the legendary novel by 19-year-old Mary Shelley.

Works Cited

Florescu, Radu. In Search of Frankenstein. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1975.

Glut, Donald F. The Frankenstein Language: A Tribute to Mary Shelley and Boris Karloff. Metuchen: The Scarecrow Press, Inc., 1973.

Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. London: Puffin Books, 1818.

Rosenburg, Samuel. “Happy 150th Dear Frankenstein,” Life. March 15, 1968. taken from “the Life of Mary Shelley” document online:

Works Consulted

Maud Martha, by Gwendolyn Brooks

Black women’s experiences and those of other women of color have never fit the private -public model. Rather than trying to explain why Black women’s work and family patterns deviate from the alleged norm, a more fruitful approach lies in challenging the very constructs of work and families themselves. (“Native”)

Maud Martha Brown had strong ideas regarding marriage. She set out to conquer the role as wife, in spite of and because of her insecurities and personal hardships. Unlike the rose-colored images that enveloped the minds of many traditional (white) women during that period of the 1940s and 50s, Maud Martha set her sights on being a bride under the simplest conditions. Maud Martha was prepared to settle for being good enough to marry, rather than being a woman no man could refuse. Her position in society, her relationships with her family, and her overall existence in society greatly influenced Maud Martha’s ideas regarding the male-female union. Though still influenced by her former roles, the final chapters of Gwendolyn Brooks’ Maud Martha reveals an undeniably stronger and more mature heroine.

Pulitzer Prize- winning author, Gwendolyn Brooks has gained much attention, but not without comparable controversy and criticism (Appiah 313). The Chicago-based author has built a sturdy reputation in both mainstream and African American literary circles. Nonetheless, her more popular works has won most of the poet laureate’s recognition. “No white poet of her quality is so undervalued, so unpardonably unread. She ought to be widely appreciated… as one of our most remarkable woman poets” (“Voices”). Brooks challenged the existing approach to romanticism, the fairy tale nature of the Amer…

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…d Giola’s Literature Web Site. .

Modu, Anaezi and Andrea Walker. All the Man I Need: Black Woman’s Loving Expressions on The Men They Desire. Newark: Gateway, 1999. 13-14.

Parl, You-me and Galyle Wald. “Native Daughters in the Promised Land: Gender, Race, and Question of Separate Spheres”. American Literature 70 (3) (1998) 14 Oct 2000 .

Tresiddier, Jack. Dictionary of Symbols: An Illustrated Guide to Images, Icons, and Emblems. San Francisco: Chronicle, 1997. 120-6.

Washington, Mary Helen. “The Darkened Eye Restored: Notes Toward a Literary History of Black Women”. Angelyn Mitchell, ed. Within the Circle: An Anthology of African-American Literature, Criticism From the Present. Durham: Duke, 1994. 442-53.

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