In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, how does the novel represent or satirize the Romantic era?If you could provide examples of each that would be great!

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missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Romanticism is about the imagination. As a fantasy genre, Romanticism is particularly seen in the absolute impossibilities in Shelley's novel which are as follows:

  • An actual living being can be made from dead matter. This is most certainly not true. Shelley has Victor galavanting from charnel-house to graveyards digging up body parts to create his master piece. Not only would these parts be dead, but they would be experiencing various levels of decay.
  • The geography during the era would have been nearly impossible to travel. Victor's first appearance in the North when he meets up with Walton is unrealistic. To have a sled and dogs take a single man that far from England alone is unbelievable.
  • The qualities of the creature break the mold of the typical monster. Shelley actually paints the creature as not just intelligent, but emotional and eager to engage in relationship. Typically, when we think of monsters, we imagine scary features and inarticulate speech. This monster wants to be human. It took some imagination to create a villanous character with such counter-cultural characteristics.
  • The monster is intelligent enough to find Victor's family across hundreds of miles. Once again, this instance from the first few chapters of the book demonstrates an insane intellect that a monster would not typically have.

It may be that Shelley hyperbolized many of the features of the Romantic era in an effort to satirize it. This book takes a new approach though by introducing many gothic features that had not previously existed. Perhaps that was another goal: to introduce the absurd to the already unbelievable.

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