Frankenstein and the Romantic Era
In the novel Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, the plot, setting, and characters reflect the historical and philosophical aspects of the Romantic era. This includes the emphasis on the impossible, the magical, and on freedom. It can also be related to the time period in which it was written, with the continued journey into the unknown, in science and exploration, and with the disarray of the world.
In 1816, the reanimation of dead tissue was not only amazing but unheard of. The idea that Victor Frankenstein could bring a being of this type alive was outrageous yet fascinating at the same time. This novel of great accomplishment is very similar to others of this period which were written beyond the realm of human possibility.
Another element of the romantic Age reflected in Frankenstein is the importance of freedom. The letters from Walton to his sister tell of his journey into the icy waters of the arctic. He is free to take his ship to any destination he pleases. This control over ones destiny is seen in Romantic novels often. Another example of freedom is in Frankenstein’s creation of the monster. His freedom is what allows him to explore the subject which society would tell one to avoid. This freedom is what Romantic writers often attempted as they were trapped in the oppressive society of the eighteenth century.
Frankenstein touches upon the historic elements of this time period. Society’s continued mission, to seek out new life and new civilization in exploration, is evident in the novel with Walton’s journey. Just as explorers of the time looked on to discover new land yet to be claimed, so did Walton’s journey to explore the Arctic. Victor Frankenstein’s fascination with creating life parallels the work of scientists during this time period to discover the secrets of life.