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Choisya
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Re: MS's parents (and Turkey)

[ Edited ]

IlanaSimons wrote:
Yes: As if to counteract racism, I sometimes voice my uneducated, simple, loud, and positive views about others.
But then again Shelley was also delivering a big critique here: She called the Muslim world backward in its view of women. She paints Safie's father, the Turk, as a big, lying bully.
Wanna tell us something about MS's parents? I don't know enough about them.

Message Edited by IlanaSimons on 11-14-200605:18 PM






One of Mary Wollstonecraft's first rebellious acts was to establish a school for girls with her sister and they soon realised how subordinate young women were to men. She wrote Thoughts on the Education of Daughters in 1787 which stressed the necessity of education for daughters and, horror of horrors, said that women were as capable of intellectual achievement as men. She then went to France at the time the French Revolution was fermenting and wrote a defence of The Revolutionary ideals - Vindication of the Rights of Man. She belonged to the most radical group of her day and lived with the radical activist William Godwin before marrying him. In her feminist tract, Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), she argued the case for equality between the sexes. She believed that women should pursue reason above romance and thought that excessive concern for romantic love and their appearance enslaved women. (My grandmother followed Wollstonecraft and would never let me read romances or use make-up:smileyhappy:) She died giving birth to MS, the daughter of William Godwin (another daughter Fanny, was the illegitimate daughter of an American.)

William Godwin was originally a Presbyterian Minister but later left the church and became a Dissenter and then an atheist. Inspired by Tom Paine, author of Common Sense and the Rights of Man, and one of the architects of the American Revolution, Godwin wrote Enquiry into Political Justice in 1793, an attack on the aristocracy, monarchy, property, religion and the sacrament of marriage. He also wrote The Adventures of Caleb Williams, a radical novel. He believed in the perfectability of man and felt that men and women were rational beings who could live without law and religious institutions. He would probably be called a libertarian today. Percy Bysshe Shelley admired Godwin's radical views and they moved in the same intellectual circles, which included the Romantic Poets Blake and Wordsworth. Godwin was a difficult man and very quarrelsome. After Wollstonecraft's death, he came to believe that neither Mary nor the children of his second marriage were his own. His contemporaries said that he ill-treated them when they were young.

On the subject of Turkey and MS's Turk, perhaps we need to remember that the Ottoman Empire was failing at this time and was called The Sick Man of Europe. The Sultans had their own young army called the Janissaries who were bullying thugs, rather like the Hitler Youth. MS might have been making a reference to the backward state of the Ottoman Empire (the Sultans reforms were undermined by Muslim religious leaders) and to the Janissaries' abuse of power, which culminated in a civil rebellion in Constantinople (Istanbul) in 1826.

Message Edited by Choisya on 11-15-200603:39 AM

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IlanaSimons
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to all: good meaty message above

Thanks for this very well-written discussion, Choisya



Ilana
Check out my book, here and visit my website, here.


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Choisya
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Re: Reviews of Wollstonecraft & Godwin's books.

[ Edited ]

IlanaSimons wrote:
Thanks for this very well-written discussion, Choisya





Thankyou Ilana. Readers might also be interested in these reviews of her parents books, which I think help to explain some of MSs thinking. I wonder for instance, whether the characters of the women in Frankenstein were satires of the Victorian admiration of 'Angels on the Hearth' so deplored by her mother and whether Mary's dedication of Frankenstein was a veiled criticism of the monster father who ill treated her. :-

B&N Review of The Vindication of the Rights of Women:-

'A Vindication of the Rights of Women (1792) is a work of crucial importance in intellectual history. Considered by most as Western feminism’s central heroine, Wollstonecraft argues that women must be educated to develop their reason in order to throw off the frivolous, debilitating role of man’s plaything. Rather than cultivating power from sexual allure, women should be honest, intelligent, and independent. Her concern about how women’s innate worth is denigrated by improper definitions of the feminine in novels, in advice literature, and in educational systems has inspired women for over two centuries to contemplate the connections between power and femininity.'

And a review of Godwin's book, 'Things As They Are or the Adventures of Caleb Williams':-

'William Godwin was one of the most popular novelists of the Romantic era; P.B. Shelley praised him, Byron drew heavily on his narrative style, and Mary Shelley—Godwin’s daughter—dedicated Frankenstein to him.
Caleb Williams tells the riveting account of a young man whose curiosity leads him to pry into a murder from the past. Caleb is a self-taught man of humble origins who through his own abilities has risen to a respectable post as secretary to Falkland, a local Squire. Intrigued by Falkland’s peculiar behaviour, and out of concern for him, Caleb begins a quiet investigation into his employer’s past. The first novel of crime and detection in English literature, Caleb Williams is also a powerful exposé of the evils and inequities of the political and social system in 1790s Britain.'

Message Edited by Choisya on 11-15-200612:42 PM

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chad
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Re: the effect of letters

It's also important to remember that letters, like writing, can create emotion and can help us connect with friends. We write sometimes when we feel alone....

Chad
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IlanaSimons
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Re: the effect of letters

Yes definitely--letters can make you feel closer to someone, even by their very physicality.

When Victor's sick, Clerval hands him a letter from Elizabeth, and the very feel of the paper and envelope bring her closer to him: "Clerval...put the...letter into my hands...from my own Elizabeth." In this letter Elizabeth writes that verbal accounts of Victor aren't enough. She wants to see his own physical handwriting, on real paper: "MY DEAREST COUSIN,--YOU have been ill," she writes, "and even [Henry's] letters [about you] are not sufficient to reassure me.... You are forbidden to write--to hold a pen; yet one word from you, dear Victor, is necessary to calm our apprehensions."

Someone's putting ink on page can bring him close.



Ilana
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lost_grrl
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Re: not mom's fault



IlanaSimons wrote:
Hey! Nice last thought there: that if something goes horribly wrong in the pregnancy and birthing process, it's not the "fault" of the person giving birth, but says loads about the mystery of the process.




Of course we know this now, but that was not always the case in the not-too-distant-past. One of the reason's women were so protected and sheltered during pregnancy was because is was believed by many that whatever the mother experienced during her pregnancy could manifest in the child. If the mother was frightened or stimulated, that could endanger the fetus; if a woman dreamed about monsters, it could make the child monsterous...I have even read one old tale where a child's "horsey" face was attributed to the mother being frightened by a horse durning pregnancy.

But beyond that, I didn't mean that the only maternal responsibility discussed in the book was the mother's (supposed) responsibility for any problems with pregnancy, childbirth or condtion at birth. The concept of maternal responsibility carries on in the relationship between Victor and his creation. Is the "badness" in the creature something innate, or is it due to irrepsonsible "parenting" on Victor's part? Would the creature have been "normal" had he not been abandoned by his mother/creator? What of us is nature and what is nurture?
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Redcatlady
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Re: Discuss the Early Chapters



Sensorymoments wrote:
1. The opening sequence of letters that frames the story does not immediately involve Victor Frankenstein, but introduces Robert Walton, the passionate young explorer who encounters Frankenstein on his Arctic ocean journey. Why do you think Mary Shelley used such an elaborate framing device? How does Walton's correspondence with his sister echo the themes played out in later chapters?


OOOh. I am so impressed at my interpretation skills here :smileyhappy: My mind usually goes in a million and one directions when I read, and I usually draw wrong conclusions, but having not read Frankenstein before, I felt like the letters were somehow an "outline" of the story to come.....

I have just finished the letters so I will have more to say about this as I read the story :smileyhappy:




Also, the Arctic imagery was probably in Mary's mind before she even wrote the story. During the time she initially began the book, it was the tail end of what scientists called "The Little Ice Age," a time of extreme cold caused centuries before by a volcanic eruption. This part of the Little Ice Age, known both as "The Year Without a Summer" and (by those who lived through it) "1900 and froze to death," caused by another eruption, was, literally, a year without a summer; the Shelleys, Byron, and the rest of the party had gone to a place in Switzerland (I think) for a holiday, only to be trapped indoors by the unseasonably cold weather. That was how the "writing contest" came about in the first place --- as a way to kill time.

Melissa
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Redcatlady
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Re: Discuss the Early Chapters



Redcatlady wrote:


Sensorymoments wrote:
1. The opening sequence of letters that frames the story does not immediately involve Victor Frankenstein, but introduces Robert Walton, the passionate young explorer who encounters Frankenstein on his Arctic ocean journey. Why do you think Mary Shelley used such an elaborate framing device? How does Walton's correspondence with his sister echo the themes played out in later chapters?


OOOh. I am so impressed at my interpretation skills here :smileyhappy: My mind usually goes in a million and one directions when I read, and I usually draw wrong conclusions, but having not read Frankenstein before, I felt like the letters were somehow an "outline" of the story to come.....

I have just finished the letters so I will have more to say about this as I read the story :smileyhappy:




Also, the Arctic imagery was probably in Mary's mind before she even wrote the story. During the time she initially began the book, it was the tail end of what scientists called "The Little Ice Age," a time of extreme cold caused centuries before by a volcanic eruption. This part of the Little Ice Age, known both as "The Year Without a Summer" and (by those who lived through it) "1900 and froze to death," caused by another eruption, was, literally, a year without a summer; the Shelleys, Byron, and the rest of the party had gone to a place in Switzerland (I think) for a holiday, only to be trapped indoors by the unseasonably cold weather. That was how the "writing contest" came about in the first place --- as a way to kill time.

Melissa




I'm sorry! 1800 and froze to death.

Melissa
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ELee
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Little Ice Age

That is very interesting. I knew they were indoors due to inclement weather, but did not know the specifics - thanks!
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howietam
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Re: Discuss the Early Chapters

"You were so busy asking if you could (restore dinosaurs to the earth with all the risks that would entail) that you never asked whether or not you should."

Wow! Perfect quote. Sums it up nicely.
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Choisya
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Re: Discuss the Early Chapters



Redcatlady wrote:


Redcatlady wrote:


Sensorymoments wrote:
1. The opening sequence of letters that frames the story does not immediately involve Victor Frankenstein, but introduces Robert Walton, the passionate young explorer who encounters Frankenstein on his Arctic ocean journey. Why do you think Mary Shelley used such an elaborate framing device? How does Walton's correspondence with his sister echo the themes played out in later chapters?


OOOh. I am so impressed at my interpretation skills here :smileyhappy: My mind usually goes in a million and one directions when I read, and I usually draw wrong conclusions, but having not read Frankenstein before, I felt like the letters were somehow an "outline" of the story to come.....

I have just finished the letters so I will have more to say about this as I read the story :smileyhappy:




Also, the Arctic imagery was probably in Mary's mind before she even wrote the story. During the time she initially began the book, it was the tail end of what scientists called "The Little Ice Age," a time of extreme cold caused centuries before by a volcanic eruption. This part of the Little Ice Age, known both as "The Year Without a Summer" and (by those who lived through it) "1900 and froze to death," caused by another eruption, was, literally, a year without a summer; the Shelleys, Byron, and the rest of the party had gone to a place in Switzerland (I think) for a holiday, only to be trapped indoors by the unseasonably cold weather. That was how the "writing contest" came about in the first place --- as a way to kill time.

Melissa




I'm sorry! 1800 and froze to death.

Melissa





Yes this was one of the times when the Thames froze over and Frost Fairs, complete with braziers roasting chestnuts etc on it:smileysurprised: There have been various times in the capital's history when this happened:-

http://www.dialogselect.com/samples/NewsUK.html

http://www.portcities.org.uk/london/server/show/ConNarrative.96/chapterId/2690/The-port-in-literature.html
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chad
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letters

I think that letters can be a link in a series of events, thereby causing the occurrence of other events. However, the last relay of the story of Frankenstein was put into the final "Barnes and Noble" version of the novel, ending Frankenstein forever....


Just kidding,
Chad
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chad
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T S Elliot Quote

Hi everyone!

I thought I'd also post a quote which I think is appropriate for Shelley's Frankenstein:


"we shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where started and know the place for the first time" T.S.Elliot ...
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Sensorymoments
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Re: not mom's fault



lost_grrl wrote:


IlanaSimons wrote:
Hey! Nice last thought there: that if something goes horribly wrong in the pregnancy and birthing process, it's not the "fault" of the person giving birth, but says loads about the mystery of the process.




Of course we know this now, but that was not always the case in the not-too-distant-past. One of the reason's women were so protected and sheltered during pregnancy was because is was believed by many that whatever the mother experienced during her pregnancy could manifest in the child. If the mother was frightened or stimulated, that could endanger the fetus; if a woman dreamed about monsters, it could make the child monsterous...I have even read one old tale where a child's "horsey" face was attributed to the mother being frightened by a horse durning pregnancy.

But beyond that, I didn't mean that the only maternal responsibility discussed in the book was the mother's (supposed) responsibility for any problems with pregnancy, childbirth or condtion at birth. The concept of maternal responsibility carries on in the relationship between Victor and his creation. Is the "badness" in the creature something innate, or is it due to irrepsonsible "parenting" on Victor's part? Would the creature have been "normal" had he not been abandoned by his mother/creator? What of us is nature and what is nurture?




I don't know about that. I would say that those kind of things could influence the birthing process...Does anyone actually know? Have thier been studies to prove otherwise?
Owy

*Taking everyday, one book at a time*
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jmpsalem
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Re: Discuss the Early Chapters

I definitely detect a prophetic note in this novel, a warning as to how the new science could have serious consequences if taken too far. The moral I draw from this tale is that although miracles are possible through science, there is often a stiff price to be paid. I can cite one example I know of personally. A young woman I met a couple of years ago had a heart transplant the year before. There was a devastating side effect from the drugs and treatments used to prevent rejection - she developed an cancerous condition of the blood, and also subsequent liver cancer. She never got to enjoy her new chance at life, and is now terminal. I guess what I am trying to say here is that Shelley just might have been trying to warn people of ALL the possible results of experimentation in the lab. The Promethean argument points out that SOME things belong in the hands of the "gods" and should not be tampered with by human beings - that was the conclusion of the "Myth and Lit" class.
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