Monday, January 23, 2012

52 Week 4 - Mary Shelley: Of Love and Light

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley – Of Love and light
She created a monster...
The first thing that has to be said is that I’m a huge fan of Gothic literature, and Frankenstein is and always will remain one of my favourite novels. I’ve read it at least three times, and each time I’ve discovered something new, something unexpected, and I’ve come to appreciate it a little more each time. She is directly responsible for my love of the genre and Frankenstein along with Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a novel which I could discuss endlessly. 

Like her novel, she is a bit misunderstood and history has somewhat simplified her. She was much more complex than it would seem, and her literary output did not begin and end with Frankenstein. Mary Shelley lived in a time when society tried to deny her her full humanity, but she never succumbed. A common theme about the lives of all these heroes is that they lived during a time when they were not given the option of being fully human. Society attempted to deny them greatness, but nonetheless, they found it for themselves. She could have written under a pen name, but she refused to and she wrote a remarkable novel in what was once considered a man’s domain. It’s a timeless story and her creation of the iconic characters of Victor Frankenstein and the monster alone make her worthy of all the praise she received.  In addition, I interpret it as not just a Gothic novel, but also a dazzling work of Science Fiction and in particular, the multi-layered nature of it is something I’ve always appreciated. It’s such a well-formed, brilliantly written novel, and to think, she started writing it at the tender age of 18. 

I dug deeper and discovered her other literary works and they are no less fascinating. In particular her apocalyptic novel ‘The Last man’ is especially interesting. She lived a literary life and in a time when women were endlessly shackled, she lived her life as she pleased and she was significant both an an author and for her political voice as a liberal woman in a conservative, man’s world.

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