Lecture 29:Mary Shelley & Jane Austen

Mary Shelley & Jane Austen

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

The Romantics were poets of change.
They found constants in nature and in art.
They could also see the dangers in the modern world: depersonalization and decline.
In their writings, the security of the individual is threatened.
During the Romantic period, prose writing developed rapidly.
A number of novelists were women: Mary Shelley & Jane Austen.

Mary Shelley’s was a short story writer, an essayist, and a novelist.
She is most known for her Gothic novel “Frankenstein” or (The Modern Prometheus). (1818)
A Gothic novel is about frightening things that happen in mysterious old buildings and lonely places.

“Frankenstein” is about an extraordinary world in which a living being is “created” by a scientist named Victor Frankenstein.
Victor uses body parts of dead people to give life to a new a “monster”.
Victor abandons his creation and loses control of “it”.
The monster murders Victor’s brother, wife, and Victor himself.

“Frankenstein” is experimental in its structure and narrative form.
At the end of the novel we come face to face with the creature and listen to “his” story.
The novel has Romantic and anti-Romantic features.
It shows the Romantic interest in the supernatural.
It also shows the attempts of man to be as powerful as God.
“Frankenstein” is one of the first modern science fiction novels.
Science fiction is stories about events (in the future) which are affected by imaginary developments in science, for example about travelling in time or to other planets with life on them

Jane Austen

Jane Austen is different from other writers of her time.
She is a late Romantic and a pre-Victorian figure.
Her main interest is the moral, social, and psychological behaviour of her characters.
She writes mainly about young heroines as they grow up and search for personal happiness.
Austen’s pictures are detailed, often ironic, and always about a small number of people.

Jane Austen gives her characters choices and then shows how and why they make the choices.
In “Sense and Sensibility” (1811), she contrasts between two sisters: Elinor who is rational and self-controlled (sense) and Marianne who is more emotional (sensibility).
The novel also contrasts between the Romantic and Augustan ages.

In “Pride and Prejudice”, “Emma”, and “Mansfield Park”, she shows that it is important to know oneself in order to make the right choices in love and marriage.
Although Austen’s novels generally end happily, her novels make the readers feel that they have been made to thinking about themselves and their moral lives.

“Pride and Prejudice”

 ”It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.”
In “Pride and Prejudice” Elizabeth Bennet, the central character, dislikes Mr. Darcy, the wealthy man “in want of a wife”.
She is prejudice while he is pride.
The characters learn about themselves and reach self-awareness.
The novel reaches its happy ending with their marriage.