"In her novel Frankenstein, Mary Shelley attempts to shape the values of her society more than she attempts to reflect them." To what extent do you agree?

Essay by maxludoHigh School, 11th gradeB, June 2004

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Whilst making a critical judgement and shaping the values of society of her time, Mary Shelley uses her Gothic Romantic novel Frankenstein as a catalyst to reflect these values in more of a way than she attempts to shape them. Frankenstein is based around many features commonly found in the Gothic Romantic genre such as the pursuit of knowledge and the wonders of earth and creation. However, Shelley's work does not always directly mirror these concepts but sometimes cleverly interprets and transforms them into subtle values and meanings. The novel is a remarkable piece of writing, not only because it had such enduring influence but because of the ingenious techniques that she employed to inform the reader of Romantic Gothic style.

Frankenstein is based around the key concept of the dangerous pursuit of knowledge. The ambition to discover unknown knowledge was one of great significance during the late nineteenth century.

This time was a period of colonial imperialism which included vast expansion for the British Empire with the discovery and acquirement of foreign lands. Shelley accurately reflects this in her novel through the character Robert Walton and his journey to discover a polar route to the Pacific. This same value is brought through in the main character, Victor Frankenstein and his scientific ambition to create a Human-Being. This idea of discovery has great emphasis placed on it in nineteenth century English society and Shelley rightly reflects this throughout her novel.

Throughout the novel, Shelley never writes of Religious value or infers it directly, except that of God through Victor. Man trying to assume the role of God is a value and theme heavily drawn upon in the novel. This for Shelley must have been a value that she placed great belief in although, strangely enough, she was an atheist. Through...