Shelley’s Life Reflected in Frankenstein

My copy of Frankenstein comes with a brief timeline of the life of Mary Shelley. Upon reading the creation of the monster, I’m reminded of the phenomena of postpartum depression. After bringing new life into this world- albeit in the form of a hideous creature- Frankenstein initially focuses only on the negative facts about the monster. It’s ugliness, it’s inability to communicate, as well as the mere unnatural circumstances surrounding its existence cause Frankenstein to reject the monster. Having read Frankenstein in the past, I know Shelley writes the monster character as a child: uneducated and seeking acceptance from it’s parent. Looking back at the timeline, Shelley had experienced a miscarriage that almost killed her before giving birth to a son. Both pregnancies were prior to her writing Frankenstein, and it occurs to me it could be possible she suffered through some form of postpartum depression, and is drawing from experience. During her relationship with future husband Percy Shelley, Mary had to cope with being his mistress, as he was already married. The year before Shelley completed Frankenstein, her half-sister committed suicide, and as well Percy Shelley’s wife, Harriet, was found drowned. The amount of stress in Mary Shelley’s life leads me to believe she may have also used Frankenstein as an outlet for said stress, and as such the story took on a dark theme. I believe that Frankenstein mirrors the difficulties in Shelley’s life at the time of writing.

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2 Responses to Shelley’s Life Reflected in Frankenstein

  1. Josh Ambrose says:

    These are some great observations–I hope you bring them up in class! I think reading the story as an expression of post-partum depression is a fascinating concept. After all, as we referred to in class, Frankenstein has a rather feminine role as a “creator.” Was Shelley married at the time of her miscarriage? If not, that would put an extremely fascinating, moral implication to the act of creation that Frankenstein so quickly regrets!

  2. Ashley Parker says:

    I didn’t know a lot about Shelley so I thought this was interesting. Taking into account her miscarriages, I wonder if she used Frankenstein as a “what if” scenario. “What if” she could create life without the chance of miscarrying, would it turn out the way she expected?

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