Sources for Frankenstein 2018-01-08T14:56:57+00:00

Sources for Frankenstein

This section lists some of the many texts that influenced Mary Shelley’s writing of Frankenstein.

John Milton, Paradise Lost (1674).
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/20

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).
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/2527/2527-h/2527-h.htm

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.

Galvani De viribus 1792 Wellcome Library

L0029687 Galvani, De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari…
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk https://wellcomeimages.org De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius, cum J. Aldini dissertatione et notis …; Mutinae Tab. II, dissection of a sheep De viribus electricitatis in motu musculari commentarius, cum J. Aldini dissertatione et notis … Luigi Galvani Published: 1792
Copyrighted work available under Creative Commons Attribution only licence CC BY 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792).
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/3420

The treatise, written by Shelley’s mother, depicts the oppression of people–especially women–as a product of miseducation.

William Godwin, Caleb Williams (1794).
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/11323/11323-h/11323-h.htm

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).
https://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/151

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).
https://www.gutenberg.org/files/134/134-h/134-h.htm

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).
https://knarf.english.upenn.edu/Davy/davy2dis.html

Davy’s work warns of an individual’s (mis)education in science, which would have monstrous results.

Erasmus Darwin, Temple of Nature (1803).
https://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/darwin_temple/index.html

This long philosophical poem by the grandfather of Charles Darwin depicts the evolution of nature and culture.

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