On the 30th day of August in the year 1797, Mary Wollstonecraft bore a child to be named after her. The father of the child is the equally famous William Godwin. Mary and William, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s parents are two of London’s especially renowned revolutionary writers for the period of the avant-garde decade of the 1790s. Mary Godwin was born five months after her parents tied the knot at the church of St. Pancras. William was advised by his wife’s midwife that the post delivery has not been barred. He received the bad news just a few hours after his daughter was born. His fear of suffering the loss of Mary due to child birth drove him to solicit the services of several physicians who resolved to eliminate remove placenta surgically section by section. The result of these drastic, systematic procedures was that Mary Wollstonecraft suffered from puerperal fever and passed away on the eleventh day of September of the same year (Sunstein 6; Mellor 1; Allen NP).
Her father was a philosopher while her mother was an early feminist. Prior to Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin’s birth, the French revolution that lasted for eight years beginning 1789 until 1793 was at its height. The year was 1792 when her mother’s work entitled “A Vindication of the Rights of Women” was initially in print. It was also the time when Percy Bysshe Shelley came into the world. The year after the initial publication of Mary’s work, her husband’s “An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice” was also made available in print. Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin whet the consciousness of the Romantic epoch as well as the avant-garde thoughts of the left wing. The year was 1794, three years before the birth of Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin when her mother gave birth to Fanny Imlay, her step sister (Sunstein 12; Mellor 15; Caldwell 1; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley NP).
It was her father who trained Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin to read and write down her name by getting the child to trace her mother, Mary Wollstonecraft’s inscription engraved on stone. When she turned sixteen, Mary Godwin eloped with his soon to be husband Percy Bysshe Shelley. Percy was all of twenty – one at that time. He abandoned his first wife, Harriet Westbrook to live with Mary Godwin (Sunstein 12; Mellor 13; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley NP).
Although Percy Bysshe Shelley was married, Mary ran away with him. They were married after Percy’s first wife died in 1816. Percy Shelley was one of the great English lyric poets. He experimented with many literary styles and had a lasting influence on many later writers, particularly Robert Browning, Algernon Charles Swinburne, William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Thomas Hardy (Sunstein 46).
Intense public resentment directed to both Mary and Percy transported them to Italy. The couple was content in their place of exile with their offspring, Clara Everina and William. Nonetheless, Percy allowed his wife to live as the much loved: to get pleasure from scholarly and artistic development, love and liberty (Sunstein 46; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley NP).
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin – Shelley is the daughter of two of England’s most candid activists of the period of Enlightenment of the 18th century. Hers was the kind of life simulated in various occurrences of sarcasm of logic pending in opposition to its own restrictions (Poovey 114; Allen NP).
Shelley, an English author, wrote the famous horror novel Frankenstein in 1818. Mary wrote Frankenstein at the suggestion of her husband and the poet Lord Byron. She visualized what would be her most celebrated novel, Frankenstein at one of the most illustrious house gathering in the history English literature while hanging out at Switzerland’s Lake Geneva with Lord Byron and Percy. Shelley was all of nineteen then. It was during that time when she endured a string of misfortunes in her life. Her misfortunes included the deaths of her sister Fanny and Percy’s first wife Harriet. Harriet was seen drowned with her baby. The baby’s biological father was believed to be Harriet’s lover although the former’s identity remained to be anonymous (Poovey 114; Knoepflmacher 172; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley NP).
At the tender age of nineteen, Shelley has already authored what would later immortalize her name in literary history. Exemplify one of the central legends of the Western tradition, Frankenstein, which came into print in the year 1818, narrates a story of an overachiever who gives life to a monster who resides in one’s thoughts. It was a story which even now remains to be an influential and lasting paradigm of the creative mind (Poovey 114; Ty NP).
Frankenstein was first published in 1818 under the title Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus. It tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, a scientist who tries to create a living being for the good of humanity but instead produces a monster (Poovey 114).
Frankenstein creates this monster by assembling parts of dead bodies and activating the creature with electricity. The monster, which has no name in the book, is actually a gentle, intelligent creature. However, everyone fears and mistreats him because of his hideous appearance. Frankenstein himself rejects the monster and refuses to create a mate for him. The monster’s terrible loneliness drives him to seek revenge by murdering Frankenstein’s wife, brother, and best friend. Frankenstein dies while trying to track down and kill the monster, as it disappears into the Artic at the end of the novel (Poovey 114).
Just about two hundred years after, the tale of his conceptualization continues to arouse theater, motion picture, record and small screen productions. Besides Frankenstein, Mary also authored six novels, one novella, some legendary dramas, tales, articles, several travel accounts and biographical researches. Come the year 1851, when the time came when she has to bid farewell to this world, Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin – Shelley has already been able to create a status as an important author outside the shadow of her famed significant half (Caldwell 25; Ty NP).
Come the year 1822, on the eighth day of July, Mary was to endure her greatest grief by the death of her husband. Paradoxically, for almost a month before Percy’s illness, he had rescued her from bleeding to death when she suffered a miscarriage on her fifth pregnancy (Poovey 48; Ty NP).
Just like everyone else’s there is a marriage which has its own troubles. She furtively held her husband responsible for the loss of their daughter, and she has been greatly disheartened and withdrawn after the death of their son (Poovey 48; Ty NP).
Not being able to get emotional support and love from his wife, Percy found consolation somewhere else. Sensitive of her husband’s frustrations, and his interest in other ladies, had confidence that time would cure the rift between them. Her husband’s untimely death left Mary in an emotional havoc, with thoughts of violent regret and culpability. To atone for her guilt conscience, she dedicated herself to the commemorate Percy. She chose to pen down his biography and put into print a compilation of his poems. Later in the year 1826, she conceptualized an idealized portrayal of him in her subsequent novel entitled, “The Last Man.” Mary’s aspiration to exalt her husband was blocked, though, by his father, who was humiliated by any public talks about his avant-garde and atheistic son. Mary dismissed herself with consuming lengthy biographical accounts to her 1824 and 1839 versions of Percy’s works, accounts which, as Mellor would say, dared the writer and reworked the times they spent together (Ty NP).
When her husband died, Mary, just about 24 years of age was left without money with her son, who was all of two years old then. She ultimately arrived at a more conventional vision of women’s reliance and distinctions just like her mother. This is not a manifestation of valor and veracity but consequential from socialization and the sentence subjected on her by the public (Poovey 48; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley NP).
Percy Shelley’s death changed Mary’s life from one of adventure and excitement to one of loneliness and failure. She wrote a few novels after her husband’s death, including the autobiographical “Lodore” in 1835. But she was forced to write much low – quality material to support herself and her children (Sunstein 46).
Mary Shelley reached a void when he turned her forty – eight years old. A brain tumor ended her life in London. She breathed her last when she turned fifty – three. Her remains were laid between her parents’ grave at the church grounds of Bournemouth’s St. Peter’s Church. With such lyrical timing, Mary’s death in the year 1851 was also the time when the Great Exhibition, which was a display of technological development, was launched. It was the similar scientific advancement that she had cautioned against in her novel (Poovey 48; Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley NP).
The world recalls Frankenstein – at all times in the name of the inventor, not his creation – every time sciences challenge to develop on nature. The novel has a more critical word of caution to convey and another which brings humanity nearer to identify with Mary Shelley. No parent, in any circumstances has the right to not to give love to his offspring. Mary Shelley penned down out of a profound sense of her own pain, as a young woman whose disobedience had been penalized with separation by the father she treasured so much to share. If the compassion is constantly with the creation, it is for the reason that he is the tone of voice of pure hurt the tone of voice outside the portals of Garden of Eden, outside the loop of familial warmth, outside the confines of society. Being Claire Tomalin, Maurice thoughtfully examined in her foreword to the novel, handed more useful vision of a child whose character cannot be modified by cruel behavior, who is incompetent for vengeance. At one point between the creation’s harsh misanthropy and Maurice’s innocent kindness, we can glance at Mary Shelley herself (Seymour 560; Knoepflmacher 143; Caldwell 25).
Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley authored a grand work when she had just started to savor the sourness of rejection. The most disturbing feature of her life is to witness how, through no liability in her own, it started to reflect her work. Mary, resembling her creation became an outsider too. At the time her husband died, his friends already know that their marriage has been failing, and that the person to blame was none other than Mary herself. Dishonored by her relation to him, tormented by the logic of her own failure as a wife, overtly denied by his folks, she is her widowhood was plunged into the cold state of isolation to which she had discarded the creature of her fantasies. Persecuted, wronged and criticized, she trained herself how to stay alive. She stayed kind, merciful, lenient and optimistic until she breathed her last. It must be stressed that the despair which she articulated in her journal was unknown to her friends. Her father was among of the small number of people who gained notice and felt sorry for the disposition to misery which she had gained from her father’s wife. One speculates how much more compassion she could have acquired if only she had been a little less intensely detached (Seymour 560; Knoepflmacher 143).
Caldwell, Janis McLarren. Literature and Medicine in the Nineteenth – Century Britain: From Mary Shelley to George Eliot. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2004.
Graham, Allen. “Mary Shelley.” 30 January 2004. University College Cork. Retrieved March 27, 2008, from http://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=5179.
Knoepflmacher, U.C. The Endurance of Frankenstein: Essays on Mary Shelley’s Novel. California: University of California Press, 1979.
“Life of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (Biography).” 2008. Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Retrieved March 27, 2008, from http://asms.k12.ar.us/classes/humanities/britlit/97-98/shelley/maryS.htm.
Mellor, Anne K. Mary Shelley: Her Life Her Fiction Her Monsters. New York: Routledge,Chapman and Hall, Inc., 1988.
Poovey, Mary. The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley and Jane Austen. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.
Seymour, Miranda. Mary Shelley. USA: Grove Press, 2002.
Sunstein, Emily W. Mary Shelley Romance and Reality. Maryland: John Hopkins University Press, 1991.
Ty, Eleanor. “Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.” 1992. Wilfrid Laurier University. Retrieved March 27, 2008, from http://people.brandeis.edu/~teuber/shelleybio.html.
I. The birth of one of England’s most celebrated writers
II. Her famous parents
III. The life she lived as Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin
IV. Becoming Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin – Shelley
V. Frankenstein immortalized
VI.Mary Shelley’s legacy