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FRANKENSTEIN. By Mary Shelley . Contextual overview. MARY SHELLY (nee’ Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin) B orn in London in 1797 into an exceptionally gifted and intellectual family. Parents. William Godwin – famous political writer and philosopher .

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By Mary Shelley

contextual overview
Contextual overview
  • MARY SHELLY (nee’ Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin)
  • Born in London in 1797 into an exceptionally gifted and intellectual family.

William Godwin – famous political writer and philosopher

Mary Wollstonecraft – famous, radical feminist writer.

mary wollstonecraft
Mary woLlstonecraft

Wrote ‘Vindication of The Rights of Women’ – a famous feminist work arguing that women should no longer be treated as second-class citizens.

Tragically Mary Wollstonecraft died giving birth to her second daughter, Mary Godwin

william godwin
William Godwin

Wrote ‘Inquiry Concerning Political Justice’ (1793) – an anarchist attack on political institutions.

Anarchism is generally defined as opposing authority or hierarchical organization in the conduct of human relations.

mary s family
Mary’s family

Failed affair!

William Godwin

Mary Wollstonecraft

Gilbert Imlay – nasty businessman

Frances "Fanny" Imlay (illegitimate child) – no images exist

Mary Shelley

the new godwin house
The newgodwin house

After Mary died shortly after childbirth, William struggled to raise the girls alone, so he remarried…a quick-tempered woman called Mary Jane Clairmont. She brought her two children to join the Godwin household…drama ensued…

William Godwin

Frances "Fanny" Imlay (illegitimate child) – no images exist

Clair and Charles

Mary Shelley


Lord Byron - Poet

Percy Bysshe Shelley - Poet

Percy took Mary and Claire with him for a summer in Geneva – to also meet up with his pal Lord Byron, whom Clair had a massive crush on. Both men were brilliant Romantic poets and always wore gorgeous, high-collared white shirts.


Percy Bysshe Shelley - Poet

Lord Byron - Poet

Best. Summer. EVER!



  • Second most populous city in SWITZERAND
long days were passed indoors in what is known as the haunted summer
Long days were passed indoors…in what is known as ‘the haunted summer’…



the enlightenment
THE enlightenment

The Age of Enlightenment (or simply the Enlightenment or Age of Reason) was a cultural movement of intellectuals in 18th century Europe and the American colonies. Its purpose was to reform society using reason (rather than tradition) and advance knowledge through science. It promotedscienceand opposed superstition,intolerance and abuses by church and state.


Mary Shelley believed in the Enlightenment idea that people could improve society through the responsible exercise of political power, but she feared that the irresponsible exercise of power would lead to chaos.

  • In practice, Mary’s writing largely criticizes the way 18th-century thinkers such as her parents believed such change could be brought about.
  • Shelley's writing reveals that she is less optimistic than her parents; she lacks faith in her father’s theory that humanity could eventually be perfected.

Sorry dad, I know you’re into anarchy, but I just don’t buy it that there can one day be a society with no problems…not going to happen.

That’s quite alright Mary. Just don’t come home.


German philosopher Immanuel Kant described Enlightenment simply as “freedom to use one's own intelligence.”

enlightenment thinkers isaac newton voltaire john locke
Enlightenment thinkers: Isaac newton, voltaire& john locke

I’m a famous writer and I advocate freedom of expression and separation of church and state…

I like stuff to do with gravity…I’m a scientist, mathematician and all-round genius!

in your own words
In your own words…
  • The Enlightenment was…

A google image search indicates that, in order to appear super-intelligent, all Romantic writers touch their faces in portraits and stare off into outer space…


It was an artistic movement in France and Britain in the early decades of the nineteenth century and flourished until mid-century. With its emphasis on the imagination and emotion, Romanticism emerged as a response to the disillusionment with the Enlightenment values of reason and order in the aftermath of the French Revolution of 1789.

jean jacques rousseau father of romanticism
Jean-jacquesrousseau: ‘Father of romanticism’

“The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless.”


The Romantics were rebels and they knew it.

Philosophers and scientists saw man as creatures endowed with Reason, the Romantics saw diversity and uniqueness.


Fla la la la Express yourself! Be original!

Paint a picture, write a poem! Fla la la


…pick the Romantic…

“Let’s find a way to measure and explain those mountains!”

“This divine mountain air makes my heart and spirit soar – oh! Wondrous land!”


Does the painting evoke a certain mood or theme?

How does it reflect Romantic era ideas?