Frankenstein Extensive Notes

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Frankenstein

Romantic novel by Mary Shelley

Themes
•Anxiety about science
oNatural philosophy (hybrid) [bunk!]
•Philosophical
•Religious
•Scientific
Fascination with electricity and magnetism
•Thought that electricity was the key to life
Intense interest in the origins of life
•Beginning to find fossils and pre-Darwin evolution
•Life and Death (see below)

Romantic Triad

Divine / nature / humanity

Frankenstein is the opposite (upside down triangle).

Prometheus Unbound (Romantic Hero)

Advocate of humanity
Good intentions = happy ending
Suffers, gains wisdom
Wisdom leads to final decision
Isolation leads to redemption of society
Filled with the virtues of sacrifice, love, protection, savior Hero (particularly to the romantics)

Frankenstein--or The Modern Prometheus

Destroys humanity
Good intentions = dark endings (the road to hell is paved with good intentions) Suffers, gains wisdom
Wisdom leads to suffering
Isolation leads to madness
Abandons his creation, revolution, unnatural, "bad parent"
Anti-hero (rather than "villain")

Frankenstein's goal is to create life (thus eliminating death) yet most of the images are of death. The slaughter houses, the "revolution" of is "human nature." The human contact brings him back from the brink of madness (his friend, spring, letter).

LIFE DEATH (Life in death)
Beauty- black hair, white teeth Horrific-black lips, yellow papery skin, watery yellowed eyes

Health-wants to eliminate death

Illness--creator wastes away

"Alas! Victor, when falsehood can look so like truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?" (956) Polarity (Polar Opposite)
Natural Philosophy (electricity, morality, religion)
The central motif of Frankenstein is a disjunctive appearances in reality. Frankenstein is more than just a horror story or thriller, but also an intense look at the human psyche. Shelley in many ways examines the human tendency to think of pretty things as GOOD and ugly things as BAD.

Don't mess with the triad: Sacred (God) / Nature / Humanity
Major Poles: Life & Death; Good & Evil; Nature vs. Nurture; Morality vs. Anarchism; Naïve vs. Knowledge; Good Judgment & Bad Judgment;
Social Opposite
Good father vs. bad father
"Noble Savage" untainted by civilization vs. the ills of civilization. [Society tainted the creature] Ignorance vs. knowledge; bliss vs. suffering
Male power vs. female disempowerment
Sense of responsibility vs. whim and folly
Rationality vs. irrationality
Global (creature) vs. Selfish (Frankenstein)

Emotional Opposites
Love vs. rage / revenge
Bliss vs. misery; acceptance vs. isolation; [lack of companion] Sane vs. insane
Creator immature vs. creature mature

Religions Opposites
Physical creation vs. imaginative
Social religion vs. inner spirituality [Justine dies for a crime she did not commit; "forced" to confess to crime to be "redeemed." Christ vs. "Adam."
Sacred vs. Profane
Creator vs. destroyer

Polarity comparison to Ode to the Nightingale

Frankenstein--Inversion of Romantic Themes

Romantic triad harmonic--dismantled
Marriage of heaven and earth--broken
Frankenstein and Elizabeth
Frankenstein and creature
Frankenstein and brother/friends/family
Poet-Prophet brings good inverted to evil--creating evil / brings evil Romantic man of feeling--creature vs. Frankenstein
Clerval the ultimate romantic being
Deification/Glorification of Nature--Frankenstein a demigod by "creating" a creature Nature destructive / against man rather than beneficial
Natural forced are not glorified instead demonized
Individualism becomes a curse rather than a blessing
Isolation of the creature, of Frankenstein, of Walton (the narrator) Spiritual renewal becomes spiritual destruction and damnation The...
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