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Life Of Mary Shelley Essay, Research Paper

Life Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, her maiden name, was a prominent writer, though over looked literary figure during the Romantic Era of English Literature (Galenet). Mary Shelley s Frankenstein was first published in 1818 (Bennett). Mary started writing Frankenstein before she was nineteen and finished less than a year later. Frankenstein is about a man whose desire to create life, drives him to build a monster, and ultimately results in his own ruin. Mary Shelley wrote Frankenstein incorporating similarities of her life into the novel.

Mary Shelley was born to Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin on August 30, 1797, the eighth day of the French Revolution (Bishop). Her mother was a famous feminist and her father was a philosopher and novelist (Woodbridge). Mary Shelley had high expectations put on her since birth because of her parent s standings. Ten days after Mary was born her mother died from complications at labor. Since her mother died, that left her father, William Godwin, an undemonstrative and self absorbed intellectual to care for both Mary and Fanny Imlay, Mary s half-sister, from prior marriage (Bennett). Mary s father remarried four years later, which brought a stepmother, and two step children into her life. These new additions to the family help Mary s home life a little. The new Mrs. Godwin favored her own children which left Mary by herself and unhappy. Mary was never formally educated, but absorbed the intellectual atmosphere created by her father. Mary read a wide variety of books, most of them were written by her mother, who she idolized. Mary s favorite place to escape to was her mother s grave in the St.Pancras churchyard. She would go there to read and write, and eventually to meet her lover, Percy Shelly.

Percy Bysshe Shelley was a famous poet but admired Godwin, Mary s father. Percy visited Godwin s home and briefly met Mary when she was fourteen, but their attraction did not take hold until a following meeting two years later. Percy was twenty-two and his wife was pregnant with their second child when Mary declared her love for him (Woodbridge). Mary agreed not to see Percy when Godwin condemned their relationship, but Percy s dramatic threat to commit suicide convinced Mary to flee with him to France in July 1814, they spent the next several years traveling in Switzerland, Germany, and Italy (Bishop). These years were characterized by financial difficulty and personal tragedy. Percy s father, Sir Timothy Shelley a wealthy baronet, cut off his son s generous allowance after his elopement with Mary.

In 1816 Mary Shelley begins to write her masterpiece Frankenstein. Frankenstein is considered to be the greatest Gothic Romanitc novel as well it being thought as the first science-fiction novel (Bennett). She wrote this novel incorporating her life issues into the novel. She started to write her novel while bring overwhelemed by a series of calamities in her life (Bennett).

The same year she had started writing Frankenstein Mary s half sister Fanny committed suicide. Weeks later Percy s wife, Harriet, drowned herself (Galenet). Mary and Percy were married in London, mainly because they hoped to gain custody of his two children by Harriet, but custody was denied. Three of their children died in infancy, and Mary fell into a deep depression. Her depression finally started to go away after the birth in 1819 of Percy Florence, her only surviving child. In 1822, Percy drowned during a storm while sailing (Bishop). After one mournful year in Italy, Mary returned permanently to England with her son. Mary s life after Percy s death was marked by depression and hardship as she struggled to support herself and her child.

For the next twenty-nine years after Percy s death she engaged in a struggle with the societal disapproval of her relationship with Percy Shelley. Poverty soon forced her to live in England which she despised because of the morality and social system during that time (Woodbridge). She eventually came to more traditional views of women’s dependence and differences, like her mother before her. This is not a reflection of her courage and integrity but derived from socialization and the “punishments” placed on her by society.

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley died in London from a brain tumor at age of 53 (Bishop). Mary is buried between her mother and father in St. Peter’s Churchyard, Bournemouth (Galenet). She died in 1851 with great poetic timing. The Great Exhibition, which was a showcase of technological progress, was opened after her death (Bishop).

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