The literary world embraced English romanticism when it began to emerge and was
so taken by its elements that it is still a beloved experience for the reader of
today. Romanticism “has crossed all social boundaries,” and it was during
the seventeenth and eighteenth century, it found its way into almost every niche
in the literary world (Lowy 76). From the beginning of its actuality,
“romanticism has forged its way through many eras including the civil war”
(Hall 44). Literature such as “the famous Gone With The Wind was a good
example of romanticism in that era because it had many of the required
qualities” but there were others that were even more clear as English
Romanticism pieces (Hall 44). There are very few works that have a more accurate
portrayal and proof of the importance of English romanticism than Mary
Shelleys Frankenstein. While later versions of the stories depicted a central
theme of a helpless monster caught in the fears of society the actual depiction
of the original work was based more closely on the English romantic that was so
popular at the time. The importance of emotions and feelings were paramount
during the era of English romanticism. In addition autobiographical material was
extremely popular. All of these qualities were present in Mary Shelleys
Frankenstein including a third and vital underpinning of romanticism, the
innocence and exaltation of the common man. An important element of romanticism
is the use of flowing feelings. During this time period, men as well as women
were full of raw emotions in literary works. They would freely vent their most
anguished thoughts and worries. This was evident in several of the chapters in
Shelleys portrayal of the life of the monster and the people he encountered.


One of the finest examples of romanticism is when the monster who we must
remember is only learning emotions for the first time runs from the cottage
after startling the occupants. Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in
that instant, did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had so
wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my
feelings were those of rage and revenge. (Shelley 746) This passage demonstrates
feelings that were a common theme during the Romanticist era, the monster was in
pain and cursing the day he was created. Another important element of
romanticism is the connection of the author to the story. The autobiographical
nature of Mary Shelleys Frankenstein is at first not openly obvious as it is
in many other literary works. One could ask, how a book about a monster could
have anything to do with the real life of the author, but if we peel the top
layer away and look closely at the undercurrent that is throughout the
monsters story it becomes clear that “Victor Frankensteins creation is
symbolic of Mary Shelleys life” (Caprio). Shelleys mother left her at an
early age by dying. She had been Shelleys creator in much the same manner
that Dr. Frankenstein had been the monsters creator. When the creator of the
monster turned his back on him and deserted him he was forced out into the
world, much as a small child in that he had limited exposure to anything outside
the former security of his home. Shelley too, “was thrust into the world, when
her mother died; the difference is that she was an actual child while the
monster was a mental and emotional child” (Hamberg). This uses two of the
needed ingredients for romanticism, autobiographical ideas and imagery. The book
may also be a representation of a fear of childbirth felt by the author. This
would not be surprising given that her own mother died giving birth to Shelley.

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It would explain the monsters creation and in fact the very reason he is a
monster at all. Shelley may have viewed herself as a monster who was so hideous
that she killed her own mother being born. This would fit right in with the
autobiographical themes that were so prevalent during the English Romanticism
era of that period (Caprio). In addition one of the side themes of the book may
have been about creation and the painful things creation can cause. Just as
Frankenstein did not ask to be created yet lived with the pain that his creation
cause, Shelley never asked to be born, yet had to live with the pain that her
birth caused, not only herself but her family that was robbed of a loved one.


The book examines the many issues that come with being rejected by parents and
being abused by the societal expectations. It was also representative of the way
society held women in the time. Women were weak in literary works and prone to
fainting. The women who encountered the monster in the cottage “indeed played
true to form ad fainted while Felix attacked physically,” which was also true
to form when it came to the gender roles of the era (Zschrirnt 48). The
exaltation and admiration was a common and central theme during that era. The
story of the monster is a shining example of the admiration we held for simple
men during that time period. The monster begins as a simple and somewhat
mindless creature who, by being tossed into the world with little knowledge of
the workings, is lost. As he finds his way by hiding and observing the cottage
people he begins to understand the ways of humans. He learns to speak by
observance and hard work and in addition teaches himself to read. The entire
system that the monster must use to survive touched the hearts of many readers
and still does, in that he was a common creature, not unlike the common man. His
ability to pull himself up by the bootstraps, and to “overcome the problems
such as lack of language skills underscored the common mans life” and still
does to some extent (Brigham 195). In addition the theme that he worked hard at
becoming acceptable then was dashed once again when the world at large refused
to see past his physical attributes (or metaphorically his commonness)
“further underscored the dilemma of the neoclassical society that the English
Romanticist author tried to combat”(Brigham 195). Frankenstein may not have
fit the mold for a regular literacy work of English Romanticism however when we
examine the symbolism, the metaphors, and the central theme imparted by Shelley
we will see that it is actually one of the finest examples in the literary world
today of English Romanticism (Pipkin). The myths of the era of Greek
Mythological stories enjoyed resurgence during the time that Frankenstein was
penned. Frankensteins creation could of course never be real; he was a”myth that mirrored societys fears and the authors self-examination”
(Cantor 411). This was “common to many of Platos writings and was popular
again during the English Romanticism era” (Cantor 411). Many feelings in
the story of Frankenstein were painted with verbal pictures. Picture that told a
story of society refusing to accept anyone who was different regardless of how
they attempted to get along and fit in with their norms. Authors of English
Romanticism often used their own life stories to play out supposedly fictions
adventures. It was most likely a therapeutic attempt to unload the inner
feelings of abandonment or other feelings and emotions that plagued people. It
was especially interesting that the genre had the men in the stories also being
open about the torturous feelings they were subjected to. This perhaps was”pinpointing the need to express feelings that were not characteristically
allowed by men at that time and in fact are still depressed by society” (Heffernan
133). Frankenstein is a strong example of English Romanticism. It had the
autobiographical qualities in by telling the story of author Mary Shelleys
life. It also used the symbolism that was so often used in the novels of the
period. This was illustrated by having a monster as the protagonist of the
story. The monster was representative of the rejection and the abuse Shelley
herself suffered. Frankenstein is a classic example of English Romanticism that
has become a classic literary work.


Bibliography
Brigham, Linda. “Legacies of omission and unacknowledged bequests: Recent
Romantic Criticism.” College Literature 24 (1997): 195. Cantor, Paul. “The
Reception of Myth in English Romanticism.” Modern Philology 95 (1998): 411.


Caprio, Terri. “Overview of Feminist Criticism.” Online. Internet. Available
URL: http://loki.stockton.edu/stk13818/fem.htm. Hamberg, Cynthia. “Biography:
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.” Online. Internet. 1999.Available URL:
http:/home- 1.worldline.nlhamberg/text/MaryShelley/biographytext. html. Hall,
Jacquline. “The Prong of Love.” Southern Cultures 5 (1999): 44. Heffernan,
James A.W. “Looking at the Monster: Frankenstein and Film.” Critical Inquiry
24 (1997): 133 Lowy, Michael. “Marxism and romanticism.” Latin American
Perspectives 25 (1998): 76. Pipkin, John. “The material sublime of women
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Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. Literature of the Western World, 4th ed. vol.2.


Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall, 1996: 668-803. Zschirnt, Christiane.


“Fainting and Latency in the Eighteenth Century’s Romantic Novel of
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