Sources for Frankenstein
This section lists some of the many texts that influenced Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein.
John Milton, Paradise Lost (1674).
Frankenstein’s monster learns how to read using Milton’s epic poem of humankind’s fall from God’s Grace.
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774).
Goethe’s epistolary novel tells the story of the love-struck eponymous hero driven to suicide because of his unrequited love for Charlotte.
Luigi Galvani, De Viribus Electricitatis in Motu Musculari (1791).
The print showing the bio-electricity experiments that caused inanimate body parts to move gained Galvani great notoriety.
Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).
The treatise, written by Shelley’s mother, depicts the oppression of people–especially women–as a product of miseducation.
William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794).
Godwin’s novel relates the story of the eponymous hero as he is wrongfully pursued and tortured by a crooked justice system.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge, “Rime of the Ancient Mariner” (1798).
First published in Lyrical Ballads (1798), Coleridge’s poem is often cited in the novel and partially informs its structure.
Mary Wollstonecraft, Maria; or, the Wrongs of Woman (1798).
A gothic tale of a woman imprisoned in an insane asylum that details the oppression of women in patriarchal culture.
Humphry Davy, A Discourse, Introduction to a Course of Lectures on Chemistry (1802).
Davy’s work warns of an individual’s (mis)education in science, which would have monstrous results.
Erasmus Darwin, Temple of Nature (1803).
This long philosophical poem by the grandfather of Charles Darwin depicts the evolution of nature and culture.