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Passive Angels and Miserable Devils: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein from a historical, political and gender perspective
2008 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
Abstract [en]

Frankenstein, Or: The Modern Prometheus was the outcome of a challenge among friends to write a ghost story. Mary Shelley took this challenge very seriously and wrote what came to be her most famous novel. The ideas in Frankenstein have been recreated uncountable times in various forms of media, and today – almost two hundred years after the novel was first published – most people are familiar with Frankenstein and his monster. This essay aims to examine whether Mary Shelley depicted male and female characters in Frankenstein with a political agenda in mind, or not. Mary Shelley’s first novel, written when she was not yet twenty years old, is filled political implications. To understand how a young girl in the beginning of the nineteenth century could write such a novel, one must look at her background. In the first chapter, Acting a Novel, the political events of the time, Mary’s parents and how she chose to live her own life, are discussed. Mary Shelley was the daughter of two radicals: Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. Both of her parents were prominent writers: Wollstonecraft is most famous for the feminist text A Vindication of the Rights of Women and Godwin for his anarchistic An Enquiry concerning Political Justice. Both writing and politics seem to have been a part of Mary’s life from an early age. She made some unusual choices for a woman of her time, the most decisive one was to run away with a married man: Percy Bysshe Shelley, who later became her husband. The second chapter, My Hideous Phantom, is an introduction to the novel. Major themes and different interpretations are presented, and attempts are made to correlate these to Mary Shelley’s life. The chapter shows that when writing Frankenstein Mary was inspired by both her parents and the political events of the time. In the third chapter, The Angel in the House, the male and female characters of the novel are analyzed and compared. Gender specific traits are discussed, such as the women being passive and concerned mostly with domestic issues and the men being isolated and miserable beings. This result may be surprising if one considers Mary Shelley’s background. The essay concludes with a discussion of the possible interpretations of this result, and how it can be related to what we know of Mary’s political background.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Keyword [en]
Humanities Theology
Keyword [sv]
Humaniora, Teologi
URN: urn:nbn:se:ltu:diva-53035ISRN: LTU-CUPP--08/057--SELocal ID: a1c7a466-ccb4-4564-8b26-dbc88cbda17cOAI: diva2:1026408
Subject / course
Student thesis, at least 15 credits
Educational program
English, bachelor's level
Validerat; 20101217 (root)Available from: 2016-10-04 Created: 2016-10-04Bibliographically approved

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