How does Mary Shelley's life link to the novel Frankenstein?

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pmiranda2857 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shelley wrote "Frankenstein," her most famous work as an exercise to keep away boredom while on vacation in Switzerland with her husband Percy, Lord Byron and others.  The task was to create a story that they would enjoy reading.  Mary Shelley wed her imagination to the modern day advances in technology to create a story of a man consumed with seeking scientific glory.  

"Frankenstein" is reflective of Mary Shelley's life experience because in her time, technology and innovation were beginning to surge and science was making leaps and bounds with new inventions.  Two particular areas of science that are focused upon in this novel are the use of electricity and understanding the origins of life. Heavily influenced by the Industrial Revolution, Shelley examines the potential hazards of technology going too far.

The novel accurately reflects the use of corpses for anatomical study, a practice that was used by medical students to understand the human body.  Shelley allows Victor Frankenstein to take his experiments one step further, using electricity, a new phenomena, to bring the patchwork monster to life.

Shelly wrote a cautionary tale for her time, fearing that technological advances in medicine and science would create men who would play God with unforeseen tragic consequences.  She was a visionary.

dbello eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein revealed her desire to answer those questions which are unanswerable. Why are we here? What is our purpose? And how is our experience worth while? Mary Shelley's life was surrounded by death. Her mother, her daugther, half sister, her future husband's wife, and two additional children by Shelley all died and finally Shelley died by drowning. Although some of these deaths occuried before Frankenstein's publication there is a strong probability that death occupied a fair portion of Mary Shelley's adult life. Mary Shelley wanted answers to the kind of questions never asked in accepted society, so she asked those questions under the guise of social acceptability....sometimes referred to as literature.

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