All literature is influenced by the time period in which it was written;whether it be war, poverty, or any other social trends. People tend to writecommentaries of political events, or just describe the time period.
Whether itis intentional or subconscious, an author can not help to include some aspectsof the time period in which they are in.The Romantic Period had a tremendousinfluence on Marry Shelly’s writing of the novel, Frankenstein.The Industrial Revolution in England during the late 1700’s was a timeof great change. The populace was moving into cities, and people weredisillusioned by the destruction of nature and the living conditions in thecities. In response to this disillusionment, people started to envision theworld differently than they had before. They saw nature as all beautiful,powerful, and perfect. Previously, the inspiration for literature was law, order,and religion; now, it is in the writers imagination and powerful emotions.
Thischange in the attitude of the people is called Romanticism. The RomanticMovement is one of the most important literary periods in history; affecting theliterature, music, and art of the period. It encouraged spontaneity, and actingwith emotions, not common sense. In the more classical style of writing, writersaddressed their books to the upper class, but now writers addressed the commonman and his problems.
Their was a new feeling of spirituality. People wereseeking eastern concepts of nirvana, transcendentalism and being one with nature.People wanted to experience life, not study it. They seeked extreme emotions,whether they were good or bad.
Marry Shelly used all of these philosophies ofthe Romantic Period in writing, Frankenstien.Victor Fankenstien is a man with great ambition, he is obsessed andself-centered. His life is the mirror of a Greed Tragedy.
In his case, the flawis his excessive pride. This flaw causes Victor to rush into something, forwhich he is not prepared. He fulfills his ambition and makes the biggest mistakeof his life by creating a monster. Finally, just before Victors death, he hashis catharsis. He tells Robert his story and cleanses himself.
seek happinessin tranquillity, avoid ambition (pg. 205) This paradox, that he created acreature to help society, but it turns out to be the undoing of society andhimself is an example of Victors self-centeredness. His life degenerates fromhere on. Victor is a product of the Industrial Revolution. In reaction to peoplewith Victor’s characteristics, the Romantic Period is born. His beliefs are inscience and the known world, which is the opposite of the Romantic ideal. Hebelieves that he can conquer nature, and tries to be a god, but discovers thathe cannot conquer nature and knows nothing on how to be a god.
The two Romantic characters in the novel are Henry Clerval and themonster. Henry is the complete opposite of Victor. He is emotional, carefree,and innocent. Henry has studied eastern languages and cultures, and wants to goto the east to study the people. He is caring and Romantic. The monster is bornas a romantic, but because of the worlds transgressions on him, he becomes ananti-Romantic and a Gothic character. The monster become dark, and wants tobring death and destruction to everything around him.
Now, when he sees beauty,he becomes jealous. but she, shall suffer; the murder I have committed becauseI am forever robbed of all that she could give, had its source in her, she shallatone,; be hers the punishment! (pg. 137) When he first went into the world,all he desired was human interaction.
After watching and studying a family ofcottagers, the monster felt that he was part of their family without evermeeting them. Even after the cottagers rejection he still had hope that theywould accept him. But I did not believe my error to be irretrievable, aftermuch consideration I resolved to return to the cottage, seek the old man, and bymy representations win him to my party. (pg. 131) The monster had not condemnedhumanity until he saved the life of a young boy, and for a reward, he is shot.
I had saved a human being from destruction, and as a recompense I now writhedunder the miserable pain of a wound which shattered flesh and bone. (pg. 135)After this event, he condemned all mankind. I vowed eternal hatred andvengeance to all mankind.
(pg. 135) He wanted to be accepted and to be human,but everyone he sees scorns and hates him. Even an innocent child despises him. You are an ogre Hideous monster, let me go! (pg. 136) He now hates the worldand himself. The monster has all the connections to Romanticism, such as histemper being parallel to the weather, his physical and intellectual abilitiessurpass those of a normal person, and he represents all of man kind: good andbad.
The monster loves nature and its beauty, but when he is transformed into ananti-romantic, nature mocks him. Nature decayed around me, The sun becameheatless; rain and snow poured around me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surfaceof the earth was hard and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter. (pg. 133)Shelly creates an excellent contrast between a Romantic and aIndustrialist, and makes a social commentary about social acceptance in hernovel.
In the novel, Frankenstien, Marry Shelly definitely shows the influenceof the Romantic Period.Category: English