Mary Shelley’s Inspiration for Frankenstein
After over 200 years of the publication Frankenstein, the film, Mary Shelley provides a biopic of Shelley’s life and overall inspiration of the famous, gothic novel.
Although Shelley’s mother was a pro-feminist thinker, she passed away just after a month of Shelley’s birth. When her father remarried, her stepmother did not believe women should have a formal education. So Shelley taught herself.
On holiday with Lord Byron, Percy Shelley (her future husband), and John Polidori, the group entertained themselves by ghost stories, which sparked Byron’s challenge of who can write the best ghost story.
Shelley based her ghost story on a dream and life circumstances. At 16, she fell in love with Percy and married without her father’s approval. In a short time, she lost two children at an early age, and her half sister committed suicide. Because of her loved ones’ deaths, this caused Shelley to dream of them coming back to life: one of the major themes in the novel.
Although Byron loved Shelley’s story, he described it as, “a wonderful work for a girl,” discrediting her talents due to gender stereotypes. This sparked Shelley to first publish the novel anonymously, which was common for women to do during this time. Due to the novel’s gothic nature, it was seen as a masculine book, which lead others to believe it was Shelley’s husband who wrote it.
Although both Shelley’s were supportive for each other’s work, a woman was not seen as superior, or able to write as well as a man. Thus, Shelley had to face ridicule from her peers due to her informal education and gender. Also, the genre of the novel is not categorized as feminine due to its gothic and moral themes of humans being the monster rather than the nameless creature.
What’s inspiring about this film is that it displays Shelley’s ambition to be successful in a society that is against her. If she were a man, she would not have faced such ridicule in this profession. Her successes are looked down upon due to her gender, yet that does not stop her from being a published author at only 18 years old. Not only was she a young author, but she created a genre as well: science-fiction, by creating a character who is mad and by creating a nameless creature.
Shelley is a force to recognize. Her successes as a writer without any formal education, along with proving to a society her worth as great female writer demonstrates the struggles women have always faced in society.