Frankenstein Beginnings

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October 29, 2012
The Knights of Awesomeness (Elmo Martians)
English 10H
Ms. Boyderman 4B

Friday Night
Excerpt 1: The origins of “Frankenstein”

“How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea”

1.) During the rainy summer of 1816, the "Year Without a Summer", the world was locked in a long cold volcanic winter caused by the eruption of Mount Tambora in 1815. Mary Shelley, aged 18, and her lover (and later husband) Percy Bysshe Shelley, visited Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati by Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The weather was consistently too cold and dreary that summer to enjoy the outdoor holiday activities they had planned, so the group retired indoors until dawn. 2.) Among other subjects, the conversation turned to galvanism and the feasibility of returning a corpse or assembled body parts to life, and to the experiments of the 18th-century natural philosopher and poet Erasmus Darwin, who was said to have animated dead matter. Sitting around a log fire at Byron's villa, the company also amused themselves by reading German ghost stories, and the French periodical called "Fantasmagoriana,"prompting Byron to suggest they each write their own supernatural tale. Shortly afterward, in a waking dream, Mary Shelley conceived the idea for Frankenstein:

3.) I saw the pale student of unhallowed arts kneeling beside the thing he had put together. I saw the hideous phantasm of a man stretched out, and then, on the working of some powerful engine, show signs of life, and stir with an uneasy, half vital motion. Frightful must it be; for SUPREMELY frightful would be the effect of any human endeavour to mock the stupendous mechanism of the Creator of the world.

4.) She began writing what she assumed would be a short story. With Percy Shelley's encouragement, she expanded this tale into a full-fledged novel. She later described that summer in Switzerland as the moment "when I first stepped out from childhood into life.” Shelley wrote the first four chapters in the weeks following the suicide of her half-sister Fanny. 5.) Byron managed to write just a fragment based on the vampire legends he heard while travelling the Balkans, and from this John Polidori created The Vampyre (1819), the progenitor of the romantic vampire literary genre. Thus, two legendary horror tales originated from this one circumstance.

Excerpt 2: Galvanism

1.) In the early 1800s, scientists were on the verge of discovering the potential uses of electricity. At this time, scientists knew about the existence of static electricity as well as electricity produced by lightning. But they were just beginning to discover that electricity could be produced by a chemical reaction.

2.) In the 1780s, Luigi Galvani, a professor of anatomy in Bologna, Italy, conducted experiments on animal tissue using a machine that could produce electrical sparks. He concluded that animal tissue contained electricity in the form of a fluid. Galvani’s theory of “animal electricity” was debunked, but he had proven that muscles contracted in response to an electrical stimulus. His research opened the way to new discoveries about the operation of nerves and muscles and showed that electrical forced exist in living tissue. In the novel, Victor Frankenstein learns about the controversial theory of “galvanism” as part of his scientific training at a university in Germany. Today, galvanism refers to a direct current of electricity produced by a chemical reaction.

Friday Night (cont.)

December 10th
she remembers it well
the day two suicides happened
Geneva’s companions
she remembered it well
the two suicide notes left behind
tears flowing
she remembered it well
“why!” she yelled
the reason to her was unknown
but the truth was there in front of her
a man..... always pursuing them.........

Monday Night

Question 1: What do you think causes people to explore the unknown? (Like Luigi Galvani exploring electrical impulses, or...
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