Explorations in the novel frankenstein by mary shelley

She is concerned with the use of knowledge for good or evil purposes, the invasion of technology into modern life, the treatment of the poor or uneducated, and the restorative powers of nature in the face of unnatural events.

Explorations in the novel frankenstein by mary shelley

Frankenstein is one of the most famous novels ever written, largely thanks to its adaptation as the film starring Boris Karloff as a stumbling, nonverbal monster.

Important Quotations Explained

Frontispiece, Frankenstein, Plenty of people have seen the film and everyone can recognize Karloff, but few people have ever read the novel. In the popular imagination the creature looks like Karloff in costume, does not speak and does not travel around the world.

In Frankenstein the novel, the creature is extremely intelligent and articulate as well as overwhelmingly physically superior to humans, hence his ability to withstand the arctic environment much more successfully than Victor Frankenstein during his pursuit of the creature.

In fact, Frankenstein is arguably the first in a nineteenth-century canon of arctic literature that represented the region as a disorienting setting, perfectly suited for in depth soul searching and deep revelations about the self.

Explorations in the novel frankenstein by mary shelley

Reading about the arctic inspires intense daydreams for Jane Eyre. Frankenstein is a text particularly plagued by popular representation, not just in terms of its association with the Boris Karloff inspired creature, but also in terms of widespread ideas at the time it was written.

In her preface to the new edition of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley clearly and firmly deliniates the work she did on the novel as opposed to the work her husband Percy Bysshe Shelley did on it: She had hoped to set to rest the rumors that Percy Shelley was really the author of the novel.

As far as I have established, it was Mary Shelley, not Percy Shelley, who was interested in and reading about arctic exploration at the time of the writing of Frankenstein.

The Peculiarities of the Arctic Setting Evening Time on Svalbard by Kitty Terwolbeck Early arctic explorers spent much time studying and writing about the disorienting visual effects of the arctic landscape.

Twenty-four hour daylight and darkness as well as the Aurora Borealis are the most well known, but there were various other peculiarities about the setting as well. This occurred when movement of the ice left an area of water exposed, which would turn to vapour, rise, and when the wind picked up freeze into small particles and scatter.

At any time during day or night, multiple false suns or moons could appear surrounding the actual sun or moon with curved connecting lines between them, producing a bizarre geometrical image in the sky.

These disorienting effects were not only limited to the visual: Today we know low frequency radio waves that can be translated into sound are emitted by the Aurora, but early explorers were often convinced that they clearly heard a crackling sound during a powerful Aurora.

Having spent some time in Svalbard during twenty-four hour darkness, I can say with confidence that there are some intense effects in this environment.

Sounds seemed to travel very far very easily, giving the impression that sounds made inches away seemed to be coming from miles away. Add to that the tricks my eyes were constantly playing on me, like seeing things out of the corner of my eye such as imaginary polar bears, especially after having been warned that it was not safe to leave the settlement because of them.

The Arctic is a fantastic setting for any novelist looking to depict psychological revelations.

Exploration in Frankenstein

Rather the relationship between Frankenstein and Walton is more the source of the sense of revelation in this section of the novel. If we take Mary Shelley to have been an astute follower of press debates about arctic exploration, we can infer that she knew that the issue of launching an expedition was coloured by hubris.

Some scientific information in support of an expedition was highlighted at the expense of a presenting a more realistic, rounded picture of the dangers and advantages of such an endeavour. In one of my academic publicationsI argue that Mary Shelley was aware of this, deliberately creating a hubristic character in Captain Walton who highlights what he wants to believe, and what supports his beliefs, while ignoring evidence to the contrary.

Walton rescues Frankenstein from impending death after he has pursued the creature into the arctic and been stranded on an iceberg when the ice has broken up. When Walton brings Frankenstein into his own cabin to care for him, Walton writes: I never saw a more interesting creature: Frankenstein decides to tell Walton his story because he recognizes a similar desire for knowledge to his own, which led him down the path of creating the creature.

Walton and Frankenstein are doubles, each reflecting the other in terms of striving for unrealistic scientific glory at any costdevoting selective attention to scientific evidence that supports rather than undermines their beliefsand pursuing attraction to those that are the same as them—in belief, scientific endeavour and gender.

In her preface to the new edition of Frankenstein, Shelley describes the dream that inspired the novel. She simultaneously claims reluctance to be an author and affirms ownership of her text, a contradictoriness that is probably symptomatic of a conflicting needs to publicly be a shy, reluctant female writer and to claim ownership of creative work that was hers.

Our only known source of her knowledge of arctic exploration would be the Quarterly Review articles by John Barrow that were probably in her possession, but we have no hard evidence that she read these. Her knowledge of arctic exploration is detailed enough that she succeeds in representing Walton as a failure of an explorer for very specific reasons.

From the SparkNotes Blog

I think it likely therefore that she read other texts on the arctic. In each, male opinion supports or loves male opinion and female contribution is marginalized or completely eliminated eg, giving birth without a woman. Reproduced without change under a CC Licence.

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The entire story of exploration for knowledge, as symbolized by Captain Walton's quest for the "perpetual splendor" of the North Pole (Letter ), becomes a cautionary tale and allegory about the dangers of boundless science.

Explorations in the novel frankenstein by mary shelley
SparkNotes: Frankenstein: Important Quotations Explained