Monday, 13 June 2016

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

When looking at the history of science fiction, probably the most famous work is Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, published in 1818. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was only 18 when she wrote it, and it was published anonymously when she was 20. Her name only appeared on the second edition.

Frankenstein.1831.inside-cover

The story of its writing is famous. There was a competition between Mary, Percy Shelley, Lord Byron and John Polidori as to who could write the best horror story. After several days, Mary had a dream about a scientist who created life but was then horrified by what he had created. That is the story she turned into the novel.

MaryWollstonecraft Tate Gallery

Many people think that Frankenstein was the name of the monster, but it was the name of the scientist who created the creature from body parts stolen from the cemetary. Victor Frankenstein wanted his creation to be beautiful, but when he brought it to life, the creature was ugly, feared and hated.

Frankensteins Monster

The creature was unable to find any friendship or sympathy, even from it’s creator. In desperation it turned to evil, and exacted a terrible retribution on Frankenstein and his family, killing Victor’s brother, childhood friend, and wife. Eventually the creature disappeared into the North Pole.

This work was truly ground-breaking, and, although considered a horror story, included science fiction elements in the advanced technology used to bring the creature to life, and the alien nature of the creature itself. It was the first 'mad scientist' story. Mary Shelley went on to write other stories where she used science to drive the narrative.

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