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Frankenstein. Mary Shelley Nationality: British; English Birth Date: August 30, 1797 Death Date: February 1, 1851. Literary Term: Gothic.
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Frankenstein Mary ShelleyNationality: British; EnglishBirth Date: August 30, 1797Death Date: February 1, 1851
Literary Term: Gothic • Gothic fiction(aka Gothic horror) is a genre of literature that combines elements of both horror and romance. As a genre, it is generally believed to have been invented by the English author Horace Walpole, with his 1764 novel The Castle of Otranto. • The effect of Gothic fiction feeds on a pleasing sort of terror, an extension of Romantic literacy pleasures that were relatively new at the time of Walpole's novel. Melodrama and parody (including self-parody) were other long-standing features of the Gothic initiated by Walpole. • Gothic literature is intimately associated with the Gothic Revival architecture of the same era. In a way similar to the gothic revivalists' rejection of the clarity and rationalism of the neoclassical style of the Enlightened Establishment, the literary Gothic embodies an appreciation of the joys of extreme emotion, the thrills of fearfulness and awe inherent in the sublime, and a quest for atmosphere. The ruins of gothic buildings gave rise to multiple linked emotions by representing the inevitable decay and collapse of human creations—thus the urge to add fake ruins as eye-catchers in English landscape parks. English Gothic writers often associated medieval buildings with what they saw as a dark and terrifying period, characterized by harsh laws enforced by torture, and with mysterious, fantastic, and superstitious rituals. In literature such Anti-Catholicism had a European dimension featuring Roman Catholic excesses such as the Inquisition (in southern European countries such as Italy and Spain). • Prominent features of Gothic fiction include terror (both psychological and physical), mystery, the supernatural, ghosts, haunted houses and Gothic architecture, castles, darkness, death, decay, doubles, madness, secrets, and hereditary curses. • The stock characters of Gothic fiction include tyrants, villains, bandits, maniacs, Byronic heroes, persecuted maidens, femmes fatales, madwomen, magicians, vampires, werewolves, monsters, demons, angels, fallen angels, the beauty and the beast, revenants, ghosts, perambulating skeletons, and the Wandering Jew.
Literary Term: Horror • Horror fictionis a genre of fiction, which is intended to scare its readers, and horror is synonymously used with a shudder. The genre of horror has other names that are regularly used, examples of these are: thriller, dark fantasy, terror, dark suspense etc. The genre originated in 1700s and the first appearance was made by Horace Walpole with his Castle of Otranto (1764). This piece of work was called the first gothic novel and later led to horror, based on a reinterpretation. • Categories of horror are all similar, in the use of overwhelming dark, evil forces and demonic aspects. The different types of horror are: Dark fiction; this is a psychological type of horror, historical horror; where the stories find place in the past or in realistic settings or psychological horror; where the characters psychological problems generates horror. The trait of the genre of horror is that it hits a button, emotional, psychological or physical within each individual which causes someone to react with fear. In order for that button to be hit there are different techniques used, such as unreal figures (phantoms, mummies, etc.), or more real situations and figures (serial killers, rapists, kidnappers). The main ingredient within horror is that the reader or viewer can relate to it somehow and that there’s always something unexpected on its way. The whole horror genre is built up upon people’s fear of the unknown and anxieties, as an important horror fiction writer once said: The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." ~ H. P. Lovecraft • The best-known horror writer is probably the American, Stephen King (1947). Other important and famous writers: Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, and Richard Matheson etc. • In the years from the eighties and up the genre of horror have gained a massive amount of popularity, not only in literature but also in the making of movies and genres like music videos. Examples of these could be the king of pop Michael Jackson’s use of the horror aspect in his Thriller music video (1984) and movies like Saw (2003) which has gained a lot of success, and is now a trilogy. • Today, horror is one of the most popular categories of film. Examples of well-received horror movies include The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Exorcist and A Nightmare On Elm Street.
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin • Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin was born on August 30, 1797, in London, England. • She was the only daughter of Mary Wollstonecraft, the early feminist (one who works on behalf of women's rights) and author of A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, and William Godwin, the political writer and novelist, both of whom objected to the institution of marriage. • Ten days after Mary's birth, Wollstonecraft died from complications, leaving Godwin, a self-absorbed intellectual, to care for both Mary and Fanny Imlay, Wollstonecraft's daughter from an earlier relationship.
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin • Mary's home life improved little when four years later her father married his next-door neighbor, Mary Jane Clairmont, who already had two children of her own. • The new Mrs. Godwin favored her own children over the daughters of the celebrated Wollstonecraft, and Mary was often alone and unhappy. • She was not formally educated, but she read many of her mother's books and absorbed the intellectual atmosphere created by her father and such visitors as the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772–1834). • Young Mary's favorite retreat was Wollstonecraft's grave in the St. Pancras churchyard, where she went to read and write, and eventually, to meet her lover, Percy Shelley (1792–1822).
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin • An admirer of Godwin, Percy Shelley visited the author's home and briefly met Mary when she was fourteen, but their attraction did not take hold until a meeting two years later. • Shelley, twenty-two, was married, and his wife was expecting their second child, but he and Mary, like Godwin and Wollstonecraft, believed that ties of the heart were more important than legal ones. • In July 1814, one month before her seventeenth birthday, Mary ran away with Percy, and they spent the next few years traveling in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy. • Percy's father, Sir Timothy Shelley, cut off his son's large allowance after the couple ran away together.
Mary Shelley • In 1816 Mary's half-sister Fanny committed suicide; weeks later, Percy's wife, Harriet, drowned herself. • Mary and Percy were married in London in an unsuccessful attempt to gain custody of his two children by Harriet. • Three of their own children died soon after birth, and Mary fell into a deep depression that did not improve even after the birth in 1819 of Percy Florence, her only surviving child. • The Shelleys' marriage suffered, too, in the wake of their children's deaths, and Percy formed romantic attachments to other women.
Mary Shelley • Despite these difficult circumstances, Mary and Percy enjoyed a large group of friends, which included the poet Lord Byron (1788–1824) and the writer Leigh Hunt (1784–1859). • They also maintained a schedule of very strict study—including classical and European literature, Greek, Latin, and Italian language, music and art—and other writing. • During this period Mary completed Frankenstein, the story of a doctor who, while trying to discover the secret of life, steals bodies from graves in an attempt to create life from the parts—but instead creates a monster.
Frankenstein • While most early reviewers criticized what they considered the gruesome (inspiring horror) elements in Frankenstein, many praised the author's imagination and powers of description. • In the later nineteenth century and throughout Frankensteincriticism, critics have searched for Percy Shelley's influence on the book. • Scholars have also debated the value of the additional narratives that he encouraged his wife to write. While some have praised the novel's resulting three-part structure, others have argued that these additions take away from and merely pad the story. Many have also noted the influence of Shelley's father's social views in the book; in addition, some critics claim to have found links to his fiction.
Frankenstein • Mary Shelley's journal entries reveal that during 1816 and 1817, when Frankensteinwas being written, she and her husband discussed the work many times. • It is also known that in these years she and Shelley both read John Milton's (1608–1674) Paradise Lost, and that she was interested at this same time in Godwin's Political Justice, Thomas Paine's (1737–1809) The Rights of Man, and Aeschylus's (525–456 B.C.E. ) Prometheus Bound. • This is not to say that Mary Shelley borrowed her social and moral ideas from Paine, or from Shelley or Godwin. It is perfectly understandable that she shared the social thoughts of her father and her husband and that she wove these ideas, which were shared also by many of the enlightened English public during those years, into a pattern of her own making.
Mary Shelley • The Shelleys were settled near Lenci, Italy, in 1822 when Percy Shelley drowned during a storm while sailing to meet Leigh Hunt and his wife. • After a year in Italy, Mary returned to England for good with her son. After Percy's death Mary struggled to support herself and her child. • Sir Timothy Shelley offered her some support, but he ordered that she keep the Shelley name out of print; thus, all her works were published without her name on them. • Mary contributed a series of biographical and critical sketches to Chamber's Cabinet Cyclopedia and published several short stories.
Mary Shelley • Mary Shelley also produced five more novels, which received negative criticism for being too wordy and having awkward plots. • The Last Man (1826) is her best-known work after Frankenstein. This novel, in which she describes the destruction of the human race in the twenty-first century, is noted as an inventive description of the future and an early form of science fiction. Valperga(1823) and The Fortunes of Perkin Warbeck (1830) are historical novels that have received little attention from book critics, while Lodore(1835) and Falkner (1837), thought by many to be autobiographical (based on her own life), are often examined for clues to the lives of the Shelleys and their circle.
Mary Shelley • The Shelleys' situation improved when Sir Timothy increased Percy Florence's allowance with his coming of age in 1840, which allowed mother and son to travel in Italy and Germany; their journeys are recounted in Rambles in Germany and Italy in 1840, 1842, and 1843 (1844). • Too ill in her last few years to complete her most cherished project, a biography of her husband, Mary Shelley died at age fifty-three.
Mary Shelley • Mary Shelley's stories were collected and published after her death, as was Mathilda, a short novel that appeared for the first time in the 1950’s. The story of a father and daughter's attraction, it has been viewed as a fictional treatment of her relationship with Godwin. • The verse dramas Proserpine and Midas (1922) were written to accompany one of Percy Shelley's works and have earned mild praise for their poetry. • Critics also admire Mary Shelley's nonfiction, including the readable, though now dated, travel volumes; the vigorous essays for Chamber's Cabinet Cyclopedia; and her notes on her husband's poetry.