Mary Sheley's Manuscripts, Letters,& Journals

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Letter III

Volume III, Chapter 7

Time: Literary Historical Research 

Minor Character Analysis

Mary Shelley's Manuscripts, Letters,& Journals

Review of Reviews

Modern Adaptation

Delicious Links Essay

The Alien Boy--Poetry Explication

Keepsake Author Mystery

 Works Cited 

Mary Shelley's, Frankenstein, truly part of the Gothic novel tradition, explores the Super Natural in the very concept of creating Life from the dead.  Throughout the novel Death has a constant presence.  Some of this fascination comes tragically from the author's own personal life and experience.  Shortly after birth, Shelley's mother dies in 1797; this is followed later by more death in the family, the most painful of which are the deaths of three of her own children; finally, her husband Percy B. Shelly's death, a drowning accident on the coast of Italy.

In the new Introduction of the 1831 edition of the novel, written by herself, she would nostalgically reflect upon the summer of 1816, when she begins writing the book as a "ghost challenge story contract" among Lord Byron, his personal doctor-Polidori, P.B. Shelley, and Mary W. Godwin [maiden name]. Shelley writes, "And now, once again, I bid my hideous progeny go forth and prosper.  I have affection for it, for it was the offspring of happy days, when death and grief were but words, which found no true echo in my heart" (Shelley, Frankenstein 191).  In February of the previous year, she would loose her first, premature born child and would enter the event in her journal. "Monday 6 find my baby dead--------.Sunday19th Dream that my little baby came to life again- that it had only been cold & that that we rubbed it by the fire & it lived -I awake & find no baby- I think about the little thing all day- not in good spirits-Shelley is very unwell-[...] " (Shelley, Frankenstein 246).  It is tragic, painful but bears close resemblance to a nightmare dream than actual reality.  Before the ultimate loss of her soul mate, idol, husband and friend she would suffer the loss of two more children.  Unimaginable physical pain and progressive depression accompanies Mary Shelley's life following these losses.  The final blow is delivered on July 8, 1822, when Percy B. Shelley and his friend, Edward Williams, perish in a storm at sea on the way back to Lerici. 

In a letter to her half-sister Claire Clairmont, written September 15, 1822 from Genoa, while in preparation and waiting to leave Italy for good following the tragedy, she reflects with poignant accuracy on the future she foresees for her self--alone, in isolation and tranquility, with no expectations from "the worldly part of (my) life"-"from my intercour{s}e with human beings-I know that that will bring nothing but unhappiness to me" (Shelley, Letters 258).  These revelations bear resemblance to moments of thoughts and internal dialogues with both heroes, Victor Frankenstein and The Creature, from her book.  Her sensitivity, perceptiveness, and concern for the outcast, the despised, the persecuted, and her generosity for family, friends, and interest in the future of mankind, all find way in her writing and provide channels for her emotional outpour, securing her a permanent spot in the treasure of literature.