The GE nor of science fiction did not yet exist, and novels themselves were Often looked upon as “leg t” reading that did not rank with serious literature. In the twentieth century, however, Franken Einstein has gained recognition as a pioneering effort in the development of the novel and as a progenitor of science fiction. Biographical Information Frankincense was Shelley first major literary production, completed when SSH e was not yet twenty.
Her life up to that point had been shaped by the presence of powerful intellectual figures: her father, political philosopher and novelist William Godwin; her mot her, one of the earliest advocates of women’s rights, Mary Woolgathering; and her husband, Romantic poet Percy Abysses Shelley. Mary grew up without a formal education-?a situation t happily for girls in her era-?but with the formidable training of her parents’ writings and the ma NY classics available to her in her father’s library.
Because Woolgathering had died ten dad YES after Mar’s birth, Godwin raised her and her halftimes alone at first, then with a stepson her who apparently cared very little for the two girls. Mary escaped her home life in July y 1814, when she eloped with Percy Shelley, who deserted his wife in order to be with her. With little money t their disposal, the pair traveled the continent, living primarily in Switzerland d, Germany, and Italy.
At the time Mary began writing Frankincense in 181 6, the couple’s finance ill difficulties were exacerbated by personal loss: there were suicides in both of their family sees, and three of their children died in infancy. The one child who would survive was born in 18 19, just three years before Percy Shelley drowned in Italy. After her husband’s death, Shelley struggled to support herself and her son, P Eric Florence, often writing in order to earn money.
A small stipend from Percy Shelley fat ere, Sir Timothy, brought with it some financial security, but also the condition that Shelley not publish under her married name. Consequently, her five novels and other publications all AP appeared anonymously. Sir Timothy increased the allowance again in 1840, enabling SSH alley and Percy to live with a greater degree of comfort. Shelley died in 1851, after several yea RSI of illness. Plot and Major Characters Shelley wrote Frankincense as a series of framing narratives: one narrator’s SST ROR told within the framework of another narrator’s story.
The events described by the create ere (which Shelley composed first) appear within Victor Fran kinsmen’s narrative, which I n turn appears in a letter written by Captain Robert Walton-?an explorer who met Frankest n in the North Pole-?to his sister. Consequently, the reader’s experience begins at the end o f the drama, when Frankincense and his monster have removed themselves from human s society and are pursuing each other in perpetuity across the tundra.
Walton then relates Fran kinkiest;s story, which returns to his childhood, when Victor developed his initial interest in sic once. Some years later, Victor’s planned departure for University is delayed when his mot ere dies; Frankincense’s interest in science simultaneously turns to the possibility of re animating the dead. Working in comparative isolation at the University, Frankincense pursue s his obsession until he succeeds-?bringing to life a pieceworker body. He immediately flee sees his creation in horror.
Entirely isolated, fully grown but without any guidance in its social and intellect dual development, the creature makes its own way in the world; his story, told in t he foreperson as related to Victor some time later, occupies the center of the novel. The reader witnesses the radial degradation of what began as an apparently good and loving nature. Because the creature’s monstrous appearance inspires horror wherever he encounters huh mans, his potential for goodness falters, especially when Frankincense fails to supply hi m with the companionship of a mate.
Turning vindictive, the creature sets out to recreate for Victor the isolation of his own circumstances, gradually killing the members of his family , including Elizabeth, the beloved adopted sister who has just become Victor’s wife. The t woo characters finish “wedded” to one another, or to the need to destroy one another, in the emptiness of the arctic tundra. Major Themes The issue that occupies Frankincense most prevalently and explicitly is that of creation, manifested in a variety of forms.
Shelley signaled the significance of this to h ere reader from the start with her subtitle and her epigraph: the one referring to the classical myth of Prometheus, and the other, taken from Book Ten of Million’s Paradise Lost, re offering to the Genesis story: “Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay / To mould me Man? Did I solicit thee / From darkness to promote me? ” (Paradise Lost X, 1 1. 74345). The three char caters invoked y these allusions-?Prometheus, Lucifer, and Adam-?share a history of rebelled on, of a desire to “steal” some of the godly fire of life or knowledge for themselves.
Shelley r fleets the many layers of this mythology in her own rendering with the temptation and power Frankincense finds in knowledge, as well as the danger that surfaces once it becomes appear .NET that he has either misused his knowledge or overstepped his bounds in acquiring it. With the rise of feminist and psychoanalytic literary criticism late in the twenty teeth century, another aspect of the creation theme surfaced: reproduction. Viewed in this lie get, Frankincense has usurped the prerogative of creation not from god, but from woman, and has thus tampered with the laws of nature and social organization.
Generally, this approach to the novel critiques traditional gender roles and the bourgeois family as depicted I n Frankincense. The novel abounds in depictions of different familial relationships, particularly when read in light Of Shelley family history: woman’s relationship to childbirth, daughter’s relationship to mother, daughter’s relationship to father. Fundamental to the novel’s two maim characters, despite the extreme differences in family relationships, are the stories of their intellectual and emotional development, which resonate deeply within the era in which Shell y wrote.
The nature of the human individual, the nature of that individual’s development, t he basic issue of inherent goodness or evil, concerned many artists and thinkers of the Roman tic age. Critical Reception Frankincense immediately became popular upon its publication, when it fit en tall into the current fashion for the Gothic novel, a genre abounding in mystery and murder ere. It would be mom time before critics would look at Shelley novel-?or any novel-?as a seer souse work of literature; initial critical attention often reduced Frankincense to an aside to the e work of her husband and the other Romantic poets.
The first significant shift in critical rice option occurred in the middle Of the twentieth century, when major critics like Harold Bloom a Goldberg took it up with enthusiasm, exploring its Promethean and Miltonic e echoes. Readers generally understood the novel as an evocation of the modern condition: ma n trapped in a godless world in which science and ethics have gone awry. While most Frankincense criticism has stressed the importance of Shelley bi geography as a reflection upon the work, the approach has been central to psychoanalytic an d feminist critics.
The latter led a resurgence in Shelley criticism in the early 1 9805, discovering n her work not only one of the earliest literary productions by a woman author, but also a so urge of rich commentary on gender roles and female experience at the beginning of the n nineteenth century. At first, the biographical emphasis tended to reduce Shelley creative e and intellectual achievement to an effect of postpartum depression, experienced hen she lost one of her babies immediately after giving birth.
Later critics explored more a ND more aspects of Shelley familial relationships, often considering her novel as a reflection o f complex oedipal conflicts, or finding in her an early and rich feminist voice. Mary Shelley makes full use of themes that were popular during the time she wrote Frankincense. She is concerned with the use of knowledge for good or evil purposes, the invasion of technology into modern life, the treatment of the poor or uneducated, and the restorative powers of nature in the face of unnatural events. She addresses each concern in the novel, but some concerns are not fully addressed or answered.
For instance, how much learning can man obtain without jeopardizing himself or others? This is a question that has no clear answer in the novel. Victor Frankincense learns all he can about the field of science, both before, during, and after his work at the university. Prior to his enrollment at the university, Victor focuses on the ancient art of alchemy, which had been discredited by the time of Shelley writing. Alchemy was an early form of chemistry, with philosophic and magical associations, studied in the Middle Ages. Its chief aims were to change base metals into gold and to discover the elixir of perpetual youth.
At the university, Victor gains new knowledge with the most modern science as a background. However, it is Victor’s combination of old and new science that leads him down a path to self- destruction. This is one of Shelley themes:”How can we harness the knowledge that we have so that it is not self destructive and for the benefit of all mankind? ” The answer is not an easy one, and Shelley is not clear on her feelings about the use or abuse of technology. The reanimation of man from he dead is a useful thing to revive people who have died too soon, but what responsibility must we exercise once we bring people back from the dead?
This is a morally perplexing question. Thus, we are stuck in a dilemma:”How far can we go in raising the dead without destroying the living? ” Shelley seems to conclude that man cannot handle becoming both like God and a creator without much difficulty. Since the Industrial Revolution had pervaded all part of European and British society by the time of her writing, Shelley questions how far the current wave Of advances should push the individual in terms of personal and spiritual Roth. She conveys the impression that perhaps the technological advances made to date rob the soul of growth when man becomes too dependent on technology.
Personal freedom is lost when man is made a slave to machines, instead of machines being dominated by man. Thus, Victor becomes a lost soul when he tries his ghastly experiments on the dead and loses his moral compass when he becomes obsessed with animating the dead. Victor’s overindulgence in science takes away his humanity, and he is left with the consequences of these actions without having reasoned out the reality that his experiments may not have the desired effects. Shelley presents nature as very powerful. It has the power to put the humanity back into man when the unnatural world has stripped him Of his moral fiber.
Victor often seeks to refresh his mind and soul when he seeks solitude in the mountains of Switzerland, down the Rhine River in Germany, and on tour in England. Shelley devotes long passages to the effect that nature has on Victor’s mind. He seems to be regenerated when he visits nature; his mind is better after a particularly harrowing episode. Nature also has the power to change man when Victor uses the power of lightning’s electricity to give life to dead human flesh. The awesome power of nature is also apparent when storms roll into the areas where clear skies had previously prevailed.
Victor ignores all of the warnings against natural law and must pay the ultimate price for the violation of those laws. The Romantic Hero Movement The Romantic Movement originated in Germany with Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Goatee’s play Faust (1808-1832) addresses the issue of how man can acquire too much knowledge, how man can make deals with the Devil to get that knowledge, and how man can move from one human experience to another without achieving full satisfaction. Ideas about a new intellectual movement had circulated for Some time in continental Europe and drifted across the English Channel to the islands of Great Britain.
The earliest Romantic writer was William Blake, who was a printer by trade and whose works transcended art and literature. In England however, it was William Wordsmith and Samuel Taylor Coleridge book of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, in 1 798 that established the mark of European Romanticism on the British Isles. From this small volume, the criteria for Romantic writing were established. Romantic writers are concerned with nature, human feelings, compassion for mankind, freedom of the individual and Romantic hero, and rebellion against society.
Writers also experiment with the discontent that they feel against all that seems commercial, inhuman, and standardized. Romantics often concern themselves with the rural and rustic life versus the modern life; far away places and travel to those places; medieval folklore and legends; and the common people. Mary Shelley lived among the practitioners of these concepts and used many of these principles in her novel Frankincense. The monster is a Romantic hero because of the rejection he must bear from normal society. Wherever he goes, the monster is chased away because of his hideous appearance and his huge size.
Shelley is attempting to show the readers how many people in conventional society reject the less than average or disfigured souls who live on the borders of our society. We cannot blame the monster for what happens to him, and Shelley elicits from the reader a sympathetic response for a creature so misunderstood. The monster tries to fit into a regular community, but because he is hideous to look at and does to know the social graces, he can never become part of mainstream society. The monster’s response is to overcompensate for his lack of learning and then shun all human contact except when necessary.
Mary Shelley knew many of the famous writers of the time or knew the works of those authors intimately: Wordsmith, Coleridge, Byron, Keats, and her husband, Percy Shelley. Mary uses Coleridge The Rime of the Ancient Mariner several times in her novel to align her misguided monster with Coleridge ancient Mariner. Thus, she ties her novel to one of the most authentically Romantic works. The influence of her husband cannot be disputed and is sometimes the subject of debate among literary scholars. How much did Percy Shelley influence the novel that his wife wrote?
Some argue that Percy Shelley wrote the novel under Mar’s name; others claim that he had a direct influence upon the writing of the book; while others maintain that Mary was the sole author, with some encouragement from Percy. Nevertheless, the novel was a work that was the product of an obviously fertile mind at a young age. From this viewpoint, Frankincense is the pinnacle of Romantic thought and novel writing. Frankincense as a Gothic Novel Frankincense is by no means the first Gothic novel. Instead, this novel is a compilation of Romantic and Gothic elements combined into a singular work with an unforgettable story.
The Gothic novel is unique because by the time Mary Shallower Fran kinkiest, several novels had appeared using Gothic themes, but the genre had only been around since 1754. The first Gothic horror novel was The Castle of Toronto by Horace Walpole, published in 1754. Perhaps the last type of novel in this mode was Emily Bronze’s Withering Heights, published in 1847. In between 1 754 and 1847, overall other novels appeared using the Gothic horror story as a central story telling device, The Mysteries of Adolph (1794) and The Italian (1794) by Ann Radcliff, The Monk (1796) by Matthew G.
Lewis, and Malamute the Wanderer (1820) by Charles Maturing. Gothic novels focus on the mysterious and supernatural. In Frankincense, Shelley uses rather mysterious circumstances to have Victor Frankincense create the monster: the cloudy circumstances under which Victor gathers body parts for his experiments and the use of little known modern technologies for unnatural purposes. Shelley employs the supernatural elements of raising the dead and macabre research into unexplored fields of science unknown by most readers. She also causes us to question our views on Victor’s use of the dead for scientific experimentation. Pong hearing the story for the first time, Lord Byron is said to have run screaming from the room, so the desired effect was achieved by Mary Shelley. Gothic novels also take place in gloomy places like old buildings (particularly castles or rooms with secret passageways), dungeons, or towers that serve as a backdrop for the mysterious circumstances. A familiar type of Gothic story s, of course, the ghost story. Also, far away places that seem mysterious to the readers function as part of the Gothic novel’s setting.
Frankincense is set in continental Europe, specifically Switzerland and Germany, where many of Shelley readers had not been. Further, the incorporation of the chase scenes through the Arctic regions takes us even further from England into regions unexplored by most readers. Likewise, Drachma is set in Transylvania, a region in Romania near the Hungarian border. Victor’s laboratory is the perfect place to create a new type of human being. Laboratories and scientific experiments were not known to the average reader, thus this Was an added element of mystery and gloom. Just the thought of raising the dead is gruesome enough.
Shelley takes full advantage of this literary device to enhance the strange feelings that Frankincense generates in its readers. The thought of raising the dead would have made the average reader wince in disbelief and terror. Imagining Victor wandering the streets of Inconstant or the Orkney Islands after dark on a search for body parts adds to the sense of revulsion purposefully designed to evoke from the reader a feeling of dread for the characters involved in the Tory. In the Gothic novel, the characters seem to bridge the mortal world and the supernatural world.
Drachma lives as both a normal person and as the undead, moving easily between both worlds to accomplish his aims. Likewise, the Frankincense monster seems to have some sort of communication between himself and his creator, because the monster appears wherever Victor goes. The monster also moves with amazing superhuman speed with Victor matching him in the chase towards the North Pole. Thus, Mary Shelley combines several ingredients to create a memorable novel in the Gothic tradition. Famous Quotes Here are examples of some of the most famous quotes from Mary Woolgathering Shelley Frankincense; or, the Modern Prometheus (1 818).
These will help you gain a deeper understanding of this classic work, which delves into many complex themes related to man’s relationship to technology, the use of knowledge for good and for evil, and the treatment of the poor or uneducated. Even though the novel was written almost 200 years ago, the issues it raises are still relevant today. “l feel my heart glow with an enthusiasm which elevates me to heaven, for nothing contributes so much to tranquiller the mind as a steady purpose -? a mint on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye. ” Letter 1 “There is something at work in my soul which I do not understand.
I am practically industrious -? painstaking, a workman to execute with perseverance and labor -? but besides this there is a love for the marvelous, a belief in the marvelous, intertwined in all my projects, which hurries me out of the common pathways of men, even to the wild sea and unvisited regions I am about to explore. ” Letter 2 ‘What can stop the determined heart and resolved will of man? ” Letter 3 “We are unfashionable creatures, but half made up, if one wiser, better, dearer than ourselves -? such a friend ought to be -? do not lend his aid to perfection our weak and faulty natures. Letter 4 “So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankincense -? more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked, will pioneer a new Way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation. ” Chapter 3 ‘Whence, I often asked myself, did the principle of life proceed? It was a bold question, and one which has ever been considered as a mystery; yet with how many things are we upon the brink of becoming acquainted, if cowardice or airlessness did not restrain our inquiries. Chapter 4 “No one can conceive the variety of feelings which bore me onwards, like a hurricane, in the first enthusiasm of success. Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world Chapter 4 “l beheld the wretch -? the miserable monster whom I had created. He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks.