Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein shaped my adolescent curiosity with science and technology. The powerful creature in the novel represents an era in which she lived. England transformed into modern times. Machines increased efficiency and replaced men in factory settings. Shelley noted these changes with her book’s alternative title, The Modern Prometheus. Society feared that the rapid development of technology, although first appearing benign, may be overcome by its own precarious power. Shelley’s monster reminds us of the potential pitfalls with advancing medicine without knowing its side effects.
Frankenstein was first published anonymously. Her manuscript’s preface was written by her well-known husband, P.B. Shelley, who was a part of her writing circle. Mary developed her story when her literary friends started a competition. She penned this story after she had a frightful nightmare about her creature. She eventually would take credit for this story which would be her most successful piece. Her successful writing career could also be attributed to her literary line by whose name she also bears. Her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, a pioneer in feminist theory, wrote A Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Both mother and daughter would be known for their writing in an age when women’s roles were limited.