Inyour text, read Chapter 20: Europe and America: 1800-1870 and answer the following questionsas you read: Explain how historical, cultural, social…

  

     In your text, read Chapter 20: Europe and America: 1800-1870 and answer the     following questions as you read: Explain how historical, cultural, social factors influenced the popularity of the novelin the nineteenth century; and compare and contrast the subject matter of the novels of Jane Austen and Mary Shelley.    Timeline Chapter Contents Jane Austen It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.— Jane Austen , Pride and PrejudiceSo begins one of the most popular and beloved novels in the history of fiction. Of course, it is clearly not universally acknowledged that financially secure men are in want of a wife—although many characters in novels by Jane Austen (1775-1817), and even contemporary romance novels, would like to think they are. But therein lies much of the charm of Austen’s witty works— Northanger Abbey (1798-1799), Sense and Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1811-1812), Mansfield Park (1814), Emma (1814-1815), and Persuasion (1815-1816). Not only are these books widely read today, they have also been made into movies—several times. On a superficial level, they are about manners and dress. If this were all they were, they might fit the category of what George Eliot would later call “silly novels by lady novelists.” But on a deeper level, they satirize the British evolution of mating strategies; they certainly do not necessarily adhere to paths that might be preferred by a moralist. Austen also shared an aversion, with Mary Wollstonecraft, to the view that women are driven about whimsically by their emotions. And in Mansfield Park, she expresses concern about the stereotyped education of women.Although her fiction became popular, Austen herself led a rather secluded and brief life. She was one of eight children of an Anglican clergyman. Although most of the leading novelists of the 19th century wrote within a tradition of Romanticism or Realism, Austen fit only within a category of her own. In 1816, the year before her death from a fatal illness, she satirized the perfect novel expected of a British woman in her letter, “Plan of a Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters”:start sidebarReading 20.18Jane AustenFrom “Plan of a Novel, According to Hints from Various Quarters” (1816)Scene to be in the Country, Heroine the Daughter of a Clergyman, one who after having lived much in the World had retired from it and settled in a Curacy, with a very small fortune of his own.—He, the most excellent Man that can be imagined, perfect in Character, Temper, and Manners-without the smallest drawback or peculiarity to prevent his being the most delightful companion to his Daughter from one year’s end to the other.—Heroine a faultless Character herself, —perfectly good, with much tenderness and sentiment, and not the least Wit—very highly accomplished, understanding modern Languages and (generally speaking) everything that the most accomplished young Women learn, but particularly excelling in Music—her favourite pursuit—and playing equally well on the PianoForte and Harp—and singing in the first stile. Her Person quite beautiful—dark eyes and plump cheeks. —Book to open with the description of Father and Daughter—who are to converse in long speeches, elegant Language—and a tone of high serious sentiment….From this outset, the Story will proceed, and contain a striking variety of adventures Percy Bysshe Shelley dedicated his poem Laon and Cythna to his young wife:They say that thou wert lovely from thy birth, Of glorious parents, thou aspiring Child.The “aspiring child” was Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (1797-1851), the daughter of William Godwin, a liberal-leaning philosopher who argued in favor of free love, and Mary Wollstonecraft, the author of A Vindication of the Rights of Women (see Chapter 19). Percy Shelley was an adherent of the philosophy of Godwin, and at the age of 21, he met 16-year-old Mary at her father’s house in London. The couple fell in love and ran off to France, Switzerland, and Germany. At the time, Mary Shelley probably had no idea that she would pen perhaps the most renowned Gothic novel of all time—a genre that shares Romantic roots with tales of horror. Gothic novels, like other Romantic novels, dwell on the relationship between humans and nature, but in the Gothic novel, it is nature gone wrong—in the case of Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818), there is a misuse of the natural; a scientist creates a monster in his attempt to rival the divine and conquer nature.With another journey to the continent (of Europe), the year 1816 saw a grouping of genius in Geneva, Switzerland. The poet Byron and his friend John William Polidori were in attendance, along with Mary and Percy. They regaled each other with stories and fantasies, including a ghost-story competition that got their creative juices flowing against the blackness of the lake at night.Mary Shelley tells of the ghost stories in the preface to Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus. Why “the modern Prometheus”? In Greek mythology, the Titan Prometheus stole fire from the god of gods, Zeus, and gave it to humankind. His punishment was being bound to a rock where an eagle every day ate his liver, which regrew and was eaten again. Dr. Victor Frankenstein, in the novel, steals the ability to create life from the gods, and he too gets his just deserts.Frankenstein creates life and then, finding his creation grotesque, abandons him, leading to endless tragedies, including the monster’s murder of Frankenstein’s brother and his beloved Elizabeth. The pathway to the killings seems inevitable. The monster asks Frankenstein to create a bride for him so that the couple can depart humanity and live in peace as recluses, consoling one another. Frankenstein does not comply. In chapter 18 of the novel, he rationalizes that “I feared the vengeance of the disappointed fiend, yet I was unable to overcome my repugnance to the task which was enjoined me. I found that I could not compose a female without again devoting several months to profound study.” We witness the consequences. In perhaps the novel’s saddest episode, Frankenstein allows a young family friend, Justine, to be convicted by circumstantial evidence of the killing of his brother and to be hanged for it—all because he doubts that anyone would believe him if he were to come forth with the truth. Yet amid the horror, the Romantic spirit rises to the sublime, at one with the painting of Caspar David Friedrich (see Fig. 20.21 ), as in Dr. Frankenstein’s descriptions of the lakes of Switzerland:start sidebarReading 20.19Mary Wollstonecraft ShelleyFrom Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus, chapter 18We travelled at the time of the vintage, and heard the song of the labourers, as we glided down the stream. Even I, depressed in mind, and my spirits continually agitated by gloomy feelings, even I was pleased. I lay at the bottom of the boat, and, as I gazed on the cloudless blue sky, I seemed to drink in a tranquillity to which I had long been a stranger. And if these were my sensations, who can describe those of Henry [Dr. Frankenstein’s close friend, Henry Clerval]? He felt as if he had been transported to Fairy-land, and enjoyed a happiness seldom tasted by man. “I have seen,” he said, “the most beautiful scenes of my own country; I have visited the lakes of Lucerne and Uri, where the snowy mountains descend almost perpendicularly to the water, casting black and impenetrable shades, which would cause a gloomy and mournful appearance, were it not for the most verdant islands that relieve the eye by their gay appearance; I have seen this lake agitated by a tempest, when the wind tore up whirlwinds of water, and gave you an idea of what the waterspout must be on the great ocean, and the waves dash with fury the base of the mountain, where the priest and his mistress were overwhelmed by an avalanche, and where their dying voices are still said to be heard amid the pauses of the nightly wind; I have seen the mountains of La Valais, and the Pays de Vaud: but this country, Victor, pleases me more than all those wonders. The mountains of Switzerland are more majestic and strange; but there is a charm in the banks of this divine river, that I never before saw equalled. Look at that castle which overhangs yon precipice; and that also on the island, almost concealed amongst the foliage of those lovely trees; and now that group of laborers coming from among their vines; and that village half-hid in the recess of the mountain. Oh, surely, the spirit that inhabits and guards this place has a soul more in harmony with man, than those who pile the glacier, or retire to the inaccessible peaks of the mountains of our own country.”end sidebarAt the time she wrote Frankenstein, Shelley was familiar with Coleridge’s poetry. When she was eight years old, Coleridge recited The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in her family’s home. She mentions the poem in Frankenstein. Moreover, the final passages of the novel play out against threatening floes of ice in the polar sea—the floes that trapped the mariner and his crew until the albatross flew into their lives.We noted that John William Polidori was in attendance at the ghostly soiree in Geneva where Frankenstein was born. There was another birth. Polidori published his own Gothic novel a year after Frankenstein came into being: The Vampyre (1819), which became another literary landmark and one of the progenitors of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, which was published in 1897.     Arts & Humanities Philosophy HUM 1020 Share QuestionEmailCopy link Comments (0)

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