Mary Shelley (1797 - 1851)

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(1797 - 1851)
Mary Shelley lived in a cultural and intellectual enviroment: in fact her father was an important philosopher and her mother was a famous author.
In 1814 she met Shelley and they fell in love. They met secretly, and when she found she was pregnant, they ran off to Europe, wandering through France, Switzerland and Germany.
In 1816 the couple settled in Geneva, where they met Byron.
Byron was very important for the development of Mary Shelley's best work, in fact it was from the discussion on art and life between her and Byron, that Mary wrote FRANKENSTEIN, published anonymously.
Mary's life was influenced from a lot of family disasters, such as his husband's drowning and the death of three of the four children she had from Shelley.
She also had little money to support her only surviving son, Percy Florence.
In the rest of her life, Mary Shelley published her husband's literary works and wrote herself in order to support her son.
She wrote 5 more novels, besides Frankenstein, the best of which is "The Last Man", a story of the decimation of mankind by a plague until only one man survives. She also wrote short stories such as "The Transormation", that was a study of a dual personality, similar to Stevenson's work "Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hide".
to be pregnant = essere incinta
to drown = annegare
The story of Frankenstein is very popular.
Dr Frankenstein is a brilliant scientist who has the ambition to gain greater control over life and death than ordinary science allows.
After a very long and solitary research he succeeds in giving life, by electric shocks, to a human-looking being he has assembled out of organs from dead men's bodies. But when the creature becomes alive, he is the first to be frightened by his own creation.
The monster then runs away and goes in the Swiss Alps, where he understands that all men escape from him because of his monstruous appearance. He has a desperate need to comunicate, but everybody is frightened by him.
The rage he has against mankind culminates in his killing Frankenstein's little brother, his best friend, and his wife.
The story ends with Dr Frankenstein who sails to the North Pole in order to kill the monster, who has taken refuge there to avoid committing any more crimes.
The monster wounds the doctor mortally because of his and humanity's lack of compassion towards him. Then he leaps from the ship on an iceberg, which is soon borne away by the artic sea.

to gain = ottenere
rage = rabbia
mankind = umanità
to wound = ferire
The passage is set in November on a gloomy night with the rain beating on the windows. The atmosphere convayed is one of mystery and fear, typical of GOTHIC NOVELS.
The setting mirrors Dr Frankenstein's mood of fear.
Frankenstein put together the parts out of which his creature was made with "infinite pains and care" and selecting the most beautiful parts of other bodies.
The new creature has yellow and wrinkled skin, black hear and lips, "dun watery eyes" and very white teeth.
Frankenstein did not want to create a monster, but his purpose was to give life to a dead body, as he says in lines 21-22 "… for the sole purpose of infusing life into an inanimate body…".
Soon he feels horror and disgust at the sight of his creation, then he runs away and hides in his bedroom where he cannot sleep.
Later again he leaves the house and takes refuge in his garden.
He sleeps in his clothes and has a nightmare; in his dream he sees Elizabeth and when he kisses her, she transforms into the scientist's dead mother.
There is a relation between his dream and reality: in fact while in the DREAM he transforms a living person (Elizabeth) into a dead one (his mother), in REALITY he gives life to an inanimate creature.
The NARRATOR is a first person narrator and the narrator is emotional, as we can infer because of the particular choice of words.
gloomy = tetra
mood = stato d'animo
pains = dolori
care = pazienza
wrinkled = rugosa
to hide = nascondersi
later again = più tardi ancora
nightmare = incubo
The monster is in a hiding place because after saving a little girl drowning, he is by reward shot, until he arrives at the outskirts of Geneva.
When the monster meets the little child, he decides to keep him as his friend and to educate him to love him without fear and prejudices.
The child's horror is evident through the insults he addresses to the monster.
At the sight of the monster the child screams, offends him and struggles to escape. Then the monster grasps his throat to silence and to kill the boy.
The psychological motivations behind the monster's reaction are of revenge against his creator and disillusion for having noone who loves him.
The monster expresses the reasons for his new attitude towards mankind, that even the most beautiful and kind creature in the world would have had feelings of disgust and repulsion at his sight.
The monster can be considered the VICTIM of both his CREATOR, who is the first one to refuse him, and of SOCIETY, which is prejudiced against deformity.

hiding = nascondiglio
to drow = annegare
reward = ricompensa
outskirts = dintorni
to struggle = lottare
to grasp = stringere
Frankenstein has a particular structure: in fact it is told in first person by three different narrators:
- the first part is in the EPISTOLARY FORM: an English explorer in the Artic regions, Robert Walton, writes to his sister in England about how he has saved a Swiss scientist, Dr Frankenstein;
- then, in the second part, is told Frankenstein's own story, an autobiographical account of his dreadful experiences;
- in Frankenstein's narration is inserted a written report by the monster himself, in which he explains the reasons for his monstruous behaviour;
- the last part is in the epistolary form again, with the conclusion of the narration by Walton.
None of the three narrators is omniscient and so they are all needed to have a complete version of the story.
If we consider the structure of Frankenstein, we can say that it is an important link between the old and the new novel: it adopts an 18th-century form such as the epistolary form and the long written spoken confession.
The three narrators have an important role in the novel: in fact they provides a very interesting and modern shifting of the point of wiew. From the different points of wiew we can have different portraits and descriptions of the characters.
Frankenstein belongs in part to Gothic tradition, so popular at the time, and in part to the 18th-century philosophical tradition, going back to Rousseau, that made of themes such as isolation and social injustice fictional subjects.
Of the tale of terror, Shelley's novel possesses the highly charged emotional language and prevailing athmosphere of suspance and danger. But it differs from many tales of terror for ignoring certain features (castels and medieval or exotic tappings) and for substituting the supernatural with science.
For treating the theme of scientific research and its ethical implications, Frankenstein has also been considered by some as the forerunner of science fiction.
to provide = fornire
shift = spostamento