Mary Shelley and Her Legacy

Who Was Mary Shelley?
In 1797, Mary Shelley was born on a cool, autumn afternoon in London. She is best known as
the author of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818), even though she penned many a novel in her day. Other well-known works by Shelley include Valperga (1823) and Perkin Warbeck (1830), amongst others.

Much of her life was dedicated to editing, publishing, and promoting the literary works of her
husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who passed away early in their relationship. Mary Shelley
herself passed away at a young age of 53 in 1851 as a result of her brain tumor.

The idea for Frankenstein was conceived on vacation. The year 1816 swept the Shelleys away
to Geneva, Switzerland, where they enjoyed a summer together with the likes of Lord Byron,
John William Polidori, and Claire Clairmont.

This sums up the general overview of Shelley’s life. However, to truly understand her work, we encourage you to read more on Mary Shelley’s life in her biography .

The Birth of Frankenstein
Growing up in a household commonly graced with guests the likes of William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, it’s no surprise that Shelley grew up to be a novelist herself. She was commonly seen reading next to her mother’s grave, who she lost as an infant. Her mother, too, was a novelist.
Although she never received a formal education, her father’s extensive library and well-reputed guests–most of whom were writers of some sort–taught Shelley more than enough to allow her a career as a successful writer.

The birth of Frankenstein was unplanned. When in Geneva, one afternoon, Lord Byron
suggested that Shelley and the rest of the group try their hand at writing a horror story. It was
then that the first draft of Frankenstein came into being.

The primary reason for writing the novel was because of Lord Byron’s suggestions, but critics remark that Shelley may have written a similar story regardless. The heart of Frankenstein lay in Shelley’s own inability to deal with the heavy experiences and overwhelming emotions she had to brave through. Such instances include the passing of her first child, born premature, and her mother’s death when she was only a month old.

The image of Frankenstein’s monster epitomizes her personal desire for a perfect human-made life that she wished she could have created for herself. She hoped for a secure love, something her husband did not share with her. Frankenstein is a deformed monster. His deformities are a metaphor for the doomed and twisted state of her romantic relationship. In this way, we see Mary Shelley confessing her sorrows through her character, Frankenstein’s monster, and wishing the monster (and her relationship) were more beautiful and wholesome, and less deformed.

Frankenstein – Name Analysis
Interestingly, the novel’s main protagonist, Frankenstein’s monster, has no name. Popular culture often mistakes the name Frankenstein as the monster’s when it is, in fact, that of his infamous creator’s–Dr. Victor Frankenstein. To know more about the doctor and his creation,
you can always find the full literary analysis of Frankenstein online.

Throughout the story, the monster is referred to as “the creature,” “the fiend,” “the demon,” and “the wretch” while he calls himself “the Adam of your labors,” while referring to Dr. Frankenstein.

These derogatory titles and refusal to name the monster to infer a deeper meaning. Dr.
Frankenstein denies his creation of basic acknowledgment because he is severely dissatisfied with how things have turned out, much like how Shelley felt in her own relationship.

Furthermore, the monster remaining unnamed throughout the novel reinforces the idea of dissatisfaction and encourages us to understand that Dr. Frankenstein wishes to leave his creation and flee from it. Once again, this epitomizes the state of Mary Shelley’s relationship with her husband. Not giving it a name makes this easier.

Lastly, the absence of a name shows that the monster is neither human nor animal and belongs solely to its creator and the university. It is robbed of the right to a personality and receives no validation. This reflects the state the author was in when writing the novel. It is a somber story that emphasizes the lack of validation and an exorbitant amount of pain in Shelley’s life.

Deep Analysis – Irony and Moral Lesson
Like all living beings, the monster is born “pure” of heart, just as a baby is. It only becomes cruel after being exposed it humanity’s evil. He constantly faces rejection, invalidation, and a lack of love from his creator, which ultimately makes him a murderous “monster.” This can be seen as a representation of the strong, undeniable evil that resides deep within the human condition; an evil so powerful it can corrupt even the purest of hearts.

Shelley died in 1851, leaving behind her legacy. Frankenstein is one of English literature’s best works. It challenges the idea of modernity and questions the state of “being human” while continually searching for a way to validate the emotions that one may feel through the course of life.

The story heavily corresponds with the life of its novelist, Mary Shelley, who suffered a loss of love and family, and had to bear the pain on invalidation for most of her life. She received a
severe rejection for her actions and life decisions, a heartache she shares with her character,
the monster of Frankenstein. Even today, Frankenstein stands at the heart of classic literature because its timeless themes ring true still.


Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

1 Comment
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Kpeior Marvellous
Kpeior Marvellous
3 years ago

It’s really enjoying

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x