Contextual Analysis of Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein"

Essay by noobervescenceHigh School, 11th gradeA+, May 2007

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Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a gothic text that raises many interesting ideas. The basis of these ideas come from contextual influences upon Mary Shelley, prior to and while she was writing her novel. Key ideas include the need for nurturing, love and family, responsibility of creation/ birth, discrimination and prejudice on basis of appearance and the dangers and consequences of unbridled ambition and obsessions. The contextual influences that these key ideas stem from are childbirth, the industrial revolution and various textual influences upon Shelley. Main examples in which the influence of context is shown strongly are chapter four, chapter five, the story of the creature (chapters eleven to seventeen), and the final confrontation between the Victor and his creation.

In chapter four, we are shown Victor's increasing isolation, shown through his response to the physical world and the degradation of his social life and morals. His excessive hubris forces him to continue on the quest for creation.

He becomes physically ill because of the "days and nights in vaults and charnel houses," the "incredible labour and fatigue" finally taking its toll upon his body. His association with death reflects upon his life as he is slowly fading away. This shows the dangers and consequences of Victor's ambition and how he is destroying himself and his links with his friends because of the "unremitting ardour" with which he "pursued his undertaking." Shelley uses imagery and the metonymy of doom and gloom to convey the isolation which is a consequence of his ambition. This comes from Shelley's own fears of the industrial revolution and that the application of science can lead to unintended consequence.

Chapter five most conveys the ideas of responsibility of creation/ birth and is an image of Shelley's own fears of childbirth and pregnancy. As the book can often...