A Dissertation upon the Relationship between the Romantic Era and Frankenstein
It should be noted that Romanticism actually has very little to do with things thought of as romantic, though love may be a subject of a piece of Romantic work, Romanticism should really be thought of as an international philosophical and artistic movement that helped redefine Western culture and thinking. (Roe)
It is indeed one of the literary histories largest curiosities that Allemand and England should prove to be the strongholds of the Romantic Movement, rather than the countries in which romantic languages were spoken, such as France or Italy. It is deduced from the literary histories of England and Germany that the commencement and finish of the Romantic Period is seen. The romantic period is said to have started in 1798 with the publishing of the first edition of “Lyrical Ballads” written by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, and concluding in the year 1832. The year in which both Sir Walter Scott and Johannes Wolfgang von Goethe died, however, seeing as it is an international movement affecting al forms of art, Romanticism is believed to have begun in the 1770’s if not before and then continues to the later half of the nineteenth century. With this extended window, it is seen that the early romantic period is birthed in the myriad of revolutions happening at this time in history, including the French, to a lesser extent the American, and the industrial revolution, which happens a little later.
The romantic period emphasized the self, creativity and the value of emotions. The fathers of this philosophy can be traced to the writings of Jean-Jacque Rosseau, Kant, Goethe, Hegel and Wordsworth. The philosophy of romanticism represents a shift from the objective to the subjective. The problem was that the science of the time claimed to be able to describe the world in objective way, through values, categories and names; a world viewed from no point or individual. This was impossible according to a romantic philosopher, here is an example why, “Imagine three people looking at a landscape; one is a farmer, another property developer and the third an artist. The farmer would see the potential for raising crops and livestock, the property developer the chance to build houses and the artist at the shades and subtleties of colors and form” (Oxford Guide). None of the people in this example are seeing things objectively; they are all seeing the respective landscape from their own particular subjective view. This move from objectivity to subjectivity is resultant from Immanuel Kant’s idea that it is impossible for humans to see the world directly, but through a certain number of categories for each person. Humans do not directly see things by themselves, the only way to understand their world is to view it through their own particular pair of lenses. “According to Kant, since one cannot “know things in themselves” then it is beneficial to discard them. This train of thought leads to idealism which is the belief that the “external world” is created by ones own mind. “The empirical deterministic universe of the enlightenment period left very little room for the creativity and freedom of the human spirit. The romantic emphasis on art and imagination is a direct critical reaction of the mechanical view of the enlightenment epoch” (Barzun 91). The romantic emphasis about the individual was reflected in nature. The author Wordsworth believed that a person could understand nature without the need for society, to him salvation and freedom was only achieved by the solitary individual. These authors and their philosophies had a tremendous impact on Mary Shelley and her husband Percy Shelley. (Berlin)
Mary Shelley was born to William Godwin, a political philosopher and Mary Wollstonecraft, feminist and philosopher as well. She received very little formal education but her father tutored...