Mary Shelley and Jane Austen

We are all tabernacles of clay. Our families, friends, surroundings, and passions all mold us into who we are. Who we become directly impacts the choices we make, and the work we perform. Mary Shelley and Jane Austen, both vastly different women, were authors whose books across the continent, even across the world. These women, their surroundings, and their upbringings, greatly impacted their literature. Through family life, personal experience, and worldly views, Austen and Shelley’s surroundings impacted their literature. Jane Austen was born on the sixteenth of December in 1775.

She was extremely family oriented and was the second girl to be born in a family of eight children. Austen had close relations with many of her siblings, and an exceptionally well relationship with her father, George. In several of Austen’s rewound novels, family relations play a key role.

Although Jane initially had a distant and reserved relationship with her sister Cassandra, they grew close as Jane got older. In every one of Jane Austen’s novels, the heroine always has a sister.

The relationships of those sisters varies from novel to novel, however in several of her works, Austen reflects her own relationship with Cassandra. In Pride and Prejudice, Elizabeth Bennet, has a deep connection with her elder sister Jane; although they are opposites, their relationship greatly contributes to their characterization and the theme of love. Marianne and Elinor, from Sense and Sensibility, too have a close relationship. Yet again, the sisters are far from similar, with Elinor being “sensible and compassionate” and Marianne being “lively and extroverted”.

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The relationship between Marianne and Elinor, like that of Jane and Elizabeth, directly show the sense and sensibility of the novel.

Along with her sister, Jane Austen had an exceptionally well relationship with her father George Austen. George was very supportive of Jane and her passions, and continued to teach her even after she had finished her expected education. In Austen’s novel Pride and Prejudice, the heroine, Elizabeth Bennet, has an extraordinary relationship with her father, Mr. Bennet, quite comparable to Austen’s relations as well. Elizabeth’s relationship with her father greatly impacted the storyline of the novel. Like George, Mr. Bennet greatly loves Elizabeth and supports her in all her endeavors, regardless of the popular opinion. The relations we have with others impact who we become. Austen’s family greatly impacted her being, and her literature.

Yet another experience of Austen’s also impacted who she would become, and the standpoints she would express in her novels. At twenty years of age, Austen began forming a relationship with her neighbor, Tom Lefroy. They grew fond of one another, and Austen declared she was “falling in love” (Jane Austen). However, Lefroy’s family, seeing that the Austen’s had nothing to offer them, viewed their relationship as impractical and they quickly sent Tom away. Seven years later, Harris Bigg-Wither, a childhood friend, proposes. Bigg-Wither was “due to inherit a sizeable amount of real estate and is well off” (Jane Austen). Austen at first accepts from these factors, but after a days thought declines and declares that marriage should purly be for love and affection rather than status, wealth, and power. Austen’s novel directly reflect the views that her life experiences taught her.

Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy’s relationship show that same principle, to marry for love and not for social benefits. Mansfield Park main focus in on the impacts that marriage and status interchangeably have on one another. Mary Shelley is also a renowned author. Although significantly younger than Austen, born August 30th, 1797, Shelley’s literature is just as impactful. Shelley was born on August 30th, 1797 to Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin, both authors themselves. Shelley and Godwin too had a close relationship. After Shelley’s birth, her mother passed away. Years later, Godwin remarried Mary Jane Clairmont. Shelley and her stepmother’s relationship was far from pleasant. Jealous at Shelley’s relationship with her father, Ms. Godwin treated Shelley with much discomfort. As a result, Shelley’s formal education halted. Nevertheless, her father encouraged her to continue reading, and from their Shelley read literature that gave her her line of thinking. Shelley’s family life was not what she had hoped and wanted. Although she loved her biological mother and father, Ms. Godwin brought trial and tribulation to Shelley’s life.

In Shelley’s most well known novel Frankenstein, there are many aspects of family. The creature the entire novel desires a family who will love and support him. Each time he seeks to obtain this picture family, he is rejected and denied the opportunity of receiving that love in that way. Comparable to Shelley’s own life, the creature only sought loving family relations, but instead was given disappointment, hatred, and cruelty. Mary Shelley’s life was considered a social catastrophe. She was born out of wedlock and into a home and family that was looked down upon by society. Throughout childhood, society shamed Shelley’s uncontrolled situation. Years later, when Shelley was roughly sixteen years old, she became acquainted with man by the name of Percy Shelley. They fell in love and ran away together, while he was still married to another. They remained unwed until Percy Shelley’s first wife committed suicide, a while they weren’t married they lived and had children together.

The Shelley’s relationship was down right controversial to the views of marriage and family in the 18th and 19th century. Throughout Shelley’s life, society constantly looked down on her, her family, and her actions. Society’s impact on her is portrayed in several of her lives. In several of Shelley’s novels, events that are deemed wrong and impractical in the eyes of society occur. 1819, Shelley published a novel called Mathilda. In this novella, Mathilda, the main character’s father confessed that he loved her. In Frankenstein, published originally in 1813, Victor Frankenstein ultimately creates a murderous create that is released upon mankind. In both these works, the main character is involved in a situation that is looked down upon by society. Although Mary Shelley’s stories tend to have plots that go against societal norms, within in them Shelley criticism society’s treatment of the misfortunate.

For example in Valperga, society exiles a family. In Frankenstein, the create only desires love and affection from the people around him, but society alienates him and turns him into the monster they believe him to be. Society played a major role in impacting Mary Shelley’s life and view. Along with the impact of society, the historical events that took place during Shelley’s lifetime also played a key role in influencing her literature. Mary Shelley was born in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. With this revolution brought many new changes towards people’s lives and the land they once knew.

The industrial revolution greatly impacted Shelley’s writings. One of Shelley’s beliefs was that the industrial revolution would have negative impacts on society. In her novel, Frankenstein, she expresses this idea clearly. The story addresses the idea that simply because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should. That prior to doing something, one should look at the consequences that could result from that action. The industrial revolution was a life changing event. Although the period of the enlightenment ended a few years after Shelley’s birth, it continued on in Shelley’s life. In The Mortal Immortal, Shelley expresses the enlightenment ideals. The main idea expressed is that “truth can be discovered through reason and logic” (SlidePlayer).

The main character, Winzy works with Cornelius Agrippa and they produce the elixir of life, which Winzy drinks and ultimately lives forever. Their efforts to create the elixir of life directly correlate and follow the principles of the enlightenment period: that of discovering truths through reason and research. Mary Shelley and Jane Austen couldn’t be any more different. They lived in entirely different circumstances and their novels seem far from comparable. In their novels, they go against the views and opinions of society. They disregarded what others believed and thought, and remained firm in their own beliefs. Even though they were impacted by family, society, and historical events in rather different ways, they

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Mary Shelley and Jane Austen. (2022, Mar 05). Retrieved from

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