Mary Shelley’s Life

Mary Shelley’s Life


2. Students have to order the life of Frankenstein’s creator chronologically.

A peculiar sort of Gothicism was part of Mary’s earliest existence. Most every day she would go for a walk with her father to the St. Pancras churchyard where her mother was buried. Godwin taught Mary to read and spell her name by having her trace her mother’s inscription on the stone.


Mary was born during the eighth year of the French Revolution. “She entered the world like the heroine of a Gothic tale: conceived in a secret amour, her birth heralded by storms and portents, attended by tragic drama, and known to thousands through Godwin’s memoirs. Percy Shelley would elevate the event to mythic status in his Dedication to The Revolt of Islam”.( from pg. 21 of Romance and Reality by Emily Sustain.) From infancy, Mary was treated as a unique individual with remarkable parents. High expectations were placed on her potential and she was treated as if she were born beneath a lucky star. Godwin was convinced that babies are born with a potential waiting to be developed. From an early age she was surrounded by famous philosophers, writers, and poets: Coleridge made his first visit when Mary was two years old. Charles Lamb was also a frequent visitor.


Mary Shelley, born August 30, 1797, was a prominent, though often overlooked, literary figure during the Romantic Era of English Literature. She was the only child of Mary Wollstonecraft, the famous feminist, and William Godwin, a philosopher and novelist. She was also the wife of the poet Percy Bysshe Shelley. Mary’s parents were shapers of the Romantic sensibility and the revolutionary ideas of the left wing. Mary, Shelley, Byron, and Keats were principle figures in Romanticism’s second generation. Whereas the poets died young in the 1820’s, Mary lived through the Romantic era into the Victorian.


At the age of sixteen Mary ran away to live with the twenty-one year old Percy Shelley, the unhappily married radical heir to a wealthy baronetcy. To Mary, Shelley personified the genius and dedication to human betterment that she had admired her entire life. Although she was cast out of society, even by her father, this inspirational liaison produced her masterpiece, Frankenstein.


For her remaining twenty-nine years she engaged in a struggle with the societal disapproval of her relationship with Shelley. Poverty forced her to live in England which she despised because of the morality and social system. She was shunned by conventional circles and worked as a professional writer to support her father and her son. Her circle, however, included literary and theatrical figures, artists, and politicians.


She conceived of Frankenstein during one of the most famous house parties in literary history when staying at Lake Geneva in Switzerland with Byron and Shelley. Interestingly enough, she was only nineteen at the time. She wrote the novel while being overwhelmed by a series of calamities in her life. The worst of these were the suicides of her half-sister, Fanny Imlay, and Shelly’s wife, Harriet.


Mary became an invalid at the age of forty-eight. She died in 1851 of a brain tumour with poetic timing. The Great Exhibition, which was a showcase of technological progress, was opened. This was the same scientific technology that she had warned against in her most famous book, Frankenstein.


After the suicides, Mary and Shelley, reluctantly married. Fierce public hostility toward the couple drove them to Italy. Initially, they were happy in Italy, but their two young children died there. Mary never fully recovered from this trauma. (Their first child had died shortly after birth early in their relationship.) Nevertheless, Shelley empowered Mary to live as she most desired: to enjoy intellectual and artistic growth, love, and freedom.


When Mary was only twenty-four Percy drowned, leaving her penniless with a two year old son. She eventually came to more traditional views of women’s dependence and differences, like her mother before her. This not a reflection of her courage and integrity but derived from socialization and the conventions placed on her by society.

3. Students have to write a short review of the most important events of Mary Shelley’s Life.





  1. Match the adjectives below to their opposite

Tall Ugly

clip_image006Weak Mean

Young Big

Fat Small

Beautiful Short

Strong Thin

Generous Old

  1. Match the adjectives in A below to the adjectives in B

Example: middle-aged is closest in meaning to old/young


clip_image007Overweight young

Elderly short

clip_image008Middle-aged fat good-looking

Chubby tall slim

Muscular weak of medium height

clip_image009Handsome strong skinny

Well-built generous attractive

Petite thin gorgeous

beautiful plain






Which of the words above have a negative, critical meaning?

Which of the words in A can be can be used to describe the people


a. a man b. a woman

c. a person over 50 d. a person over 70

e. a bodybuilder f. a supermodel

g. you

  1. Put the adverbs in order from the weakest to the strongest.

clip_image010Weakest Strongest



Not very





  1. Match the parts of the face with the list of adjectives that can be used to describe them.

Ears Nose Eyes Lips

Big snub pointed

Thin full sexy

Big bright blue

Big cauliflower sticky-out

5.- The teacher will give the students a text with a brief description of a character of Frankenstein.

They have to describe a character and his/her story following the model given by the teacher.

They have to describe a character and his/her story following the model given by the teacher. They will work in small groups, each student will look for specific information about the character. Then, they will decide how they are going to present their work together. The class will vote on the most interesting description

The description has to be brief, 150 words approximately. Then the teacher will recollect them and he/she will conform a book of characters of Mystery and Imagination to the work of everybody



Frankenstein was brought to life by the imagination of Mary Shelley. He was created from the bones and organs of the dead. His aspect was very sinister and he became a monster which nobody can control. Frankenstein was a horrible creature with a big head and a cadaverous face which made him to live isolate from the world. He has a corpulent body which gave him strength to commit his murderers. His creator Viktor Frankenstein, who was a student of medicine in Geneva, abandoned him because he was a horrible creature. He wanted to create a perfect being but he failed and gave life to a monster. In spite of the violence of Frankenstein he had good feelings however he wanted to revenge his creator because he had doomed eternal solitude. His physical appearance was the reason of his unhappiness. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley explores the human heart where we find the existence of good and evil, at the same time both are parts of human beings.