She was educated by her parents, who were both radicals and believed in the French revolution:
· Mary Wollstonecraft: she was the first to write a treatise for women's rights, titled ”A vindication of the rights of Women”. She died of childbirth (when Mary Shelley was born)
· William Godwin: he was a philosopher who advocated the need for fair laws and social justice. When his wife died he remarried with another woman, a gesture which upset the young
Mary Shelley’s father had two friends who were philosophers as well:
· Samuel Coleridge, the author of the “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner”
· Percy Bysshe Shelley: Mary Shelley's future husband
Percy Shelley ran away with Mary Shelley when she was only 17 (he was 6 years older). In 1814 Mary lost her baby and in 1815 they went to Switzerland (in Villa Diodati, on Lake Geneva, which was rented by Lord Byron – a charismatic poet).
Mary Shelley was interested in:
1- The limits of civilization
2- Chemistry and Physics
4- The French Revolution
5- Philosophy (particularly Rousseau who dealt with the “natural man” and thought that civilization corrupted men)
While Mary Shelley was in Villa Diodati, she had a dream, that became a source of inspiration for Frankenstein. It was an epistolary novel with a unique structure (a story within a story within a story).
There are three narrators: Walton, Frankenstein, the creature.
The book was finished in 1817 but published in 1818, as an anonymous book (women were not allowed to write at that time).
The philosophers who influenced Mary Shelley’s book were:
· Locke - education, self-awareness
· Coleridge - who dealt with the crime against nature, like Mary Shelley did later; also the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner is considered to be an inspiration for the character of Walton, because of its "sea voyage" theme
· Myth of Prometheus: he was bound to a rock and every night an eagle ate his liver