Romanticism deals a lot with elements and how the affect human beings. Romanticism allowed people to get away from the constricted, normal views of life and concentrate on an emotional and sentimental side of humanity. The majority of literature during this time focused on the state of human nature. The romantic period was characterized by the ideas and techniques of the literary period that preceded it, which was more scientific and rational in nature. Romantics were involved in emotional directness of personal experience and individual imagination and aspiration.
This emotional directness of personal experience can be viewed in two novels written by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein and Mathilda. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley lives through her writings breathing through each character; one can place themselves into the world of Shelley through these novels. To be able to understand her we will view a glimpse of her life. Mary Wollstonecraft was born August 30, 1979. She already had shoes to fill as her parents were Mary Wollstonecraft, an advocate for women’s rights and William Gowin, political philosopher and novelist.
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Mary’s mother died shortly after her birth leaving her father to raise her and her half-sister Fanny Imlay. Although, Mary Wollstonecraft received little formal education she was tutored by her father and had access to his library. It’s amazing to think that this woman was as brilliant as she was with her writings just by the knowledge that she absorbed through readings, her father, and the many intellectuals that visited. She started young with publishing her first poem at the age of ten.
At the end of 1812, she met Percy Shelley, whom she married in 1816, making her known as Mary Shelley. “They were the eyry of freedom, and the pleasant region where unheeded I could commune with the creatures of my fancy. I wrote then but in a most common-place style. It was beneath the trees of the grounds belonging to our house, on the bleak sides of the woodless mountains near, that my true compositions, the airy flights of my imagination, were born and fostered. I did not make myself the heroine of my tales. Life appeared to me too common-place an affair as regarded myself.
I could not figure to myself that romantic woes or wonderful events would ever be my lot; but I was not confined to my own identity, and I could people the hours with creations far more interesting to me at that age, than my own sensations. ” (Shelley,6) During the period of Romanticism interpretation of how feeling and emotion was vital and this was certainly true of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Shelley’s own life experiences are all reflected within the novel making for emotionally charged reading from the beginning till the end.
Victor Frankenstein is the ultimate dreamer, who is preoccupied by other worldly concerns and unattainable ideals. His ideals of creating a new life perfectly reflect on the imaginative, visionary, and transcendental aspects of Romanticism. A true visionary, Victor Frankenstein attempts the unthinkable by creating this life. Victor pushes the envelope of limitations of humans, which is a main philosophy of the romanticism movement. Shelley portrays Victor Frankenstein as a god-like character. I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs…I had worked hard for nearly two years, for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body. ” (Shelley 42) Although Victor has created this new life he now runs away in fear of the creation that lay before him. This creature starts out child like full of innocence, as he has no indication of the world around him. He makes several attempts to connect with other living things. The creature does not realize that he is different from them.
He lacks speaking abilities and the physical characteristics that would make him recognizable as an equal than a monster. “When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, the, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned” (Shelley, 105). This poor monster was detested by his own creator shunned away and by how he was treated by society lead to his view of humanity. “The human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union. If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear” (Shelley, 173).
He was a curious creature at first through the novel till society abused him making him into the monster that they viewed. The naturalistic imagery that pervades in Mathilda acts as an underlying theme for the incestuous affair between the characters Mathilda and her father. This relationship between this is a crime against the laws of Nature causing Mathilda to become ostracized from the very world that she loved. Shelley’s implementation of naturalistic imagery accentuates the unlawful and subsequent ramifications of the relationship between Mathilda and her father.
This contrasts the ideals and boundaries in the views of the natural and spiritual worlds. This novel is filled with pollution, disorder, and issues of integrity that surrounds Mathilda. Just like the monster in Frankenstein, she is turned against by the one that she loves. Mary Shelly creates an excellent contrast between a romantic and industrialist, and makes a social commentary about social acceptance in her?? novel, Frankenstein. Throughout both novels she expresses the views of society whether it is dealing with a monster or an act that is wrong between a father and daughter.
Both the monster and Mathilda struggle with acceptance and wanting to be love. They surround themselves with that of purity with the beauty of nature. This is where they find the peace that they are looking for and acceptance no matter how they look or what happened to them in their life. Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York: Enriched Classics, 2004. “Mary Shelley. ” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 14 June 2010. http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Mary_Shelley