<i>Frankenstein</i>: Mary Shelley's Myth-Making

Pamela Clemit

in The Godwinian Novel

Published in print March 1993 | ISBN: 9780198112204
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670701 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Frankenstein: Mary Shelley's Myth-Making

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The epigraph and subtitle to Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus signal Mary Shelley's challenging expansion of the Godwinian novel to incorporate major Western creation myths. To understand Shelley's commanding position in the Godwin school, however, we must consider not only the early Frankenstein, but also her ambitious formal experiments in her novels of the 1820s, Valperga and The Last Man. Frankenstein was dedicated to William Godwin, and, for several conservative reviewers, its anonymous publication in March 1818 provided an opportunity to attack the entire Godwin circle. However, Mary Shelley lacks Godwin's optimistic faith in man's capacity for rational judgement. While she accounts for the monster's deformity in terms of social oppression, her treatment of Frankenstein as an exemplar of egotistical ambition suggests a less historical approach, moving towards the conventional psychological focus of her later revisions.

Keywords: Frankenstein; Mary Shelley; creation myths; William Godwin; novels; faith; rational judgement; monster; social oppression

Chapter.  14299 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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