Percy Shelley and Mary Shelley

*I’m submitting my blog & comment for next Monday early because I had some time in between travel!

The poems “Mask of Anarchy” and “Ode to the West Wind” address themes of politics and death/rebirth/revenge. “Mask of Anarchy” discusses the 1819 protest in St. Peter’s Square in Manchester, England against famine, unemployment, and lack of suffrage. The local magistrate called upon the militia to diffuse the protest, but the inexperienced soldiers began brutally attacking protestors. Shelley, who was in Italy at the time, wrote this piece to convey his disappointment and sorrows towards both the magistrate and militia for ordering the killing and wounding of innocent people. Shelley mentions rising against injustice in “Mask of Anarchy,” which takes on a theme of revenge. 

“Ode to the West Wind” involves the narrator asking the west wind to spread his word far and wide like a “trumpet of prophecy.” The narrator also feels that the wind is a necessary evil that he begs to carry him into death where a new life awaits him. There are themes of death and rebirth in this poem, since the wind in the narrator’s mind is powerful enough to take him away and restart his life. 

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein also addresses similar topics of death, rebirth, revenge, and political issues, which makes me wonder how many ideas the Shelley’s shared with each other. In Frankenstein, Frankenstein makes a doctor out of dead body parts and creates a “monster,” combining death and rebirth, and the creature seeks revenge after being treated neglectfully. Similar to how “Ode to the West Wind” addresses nature and death through the wind and leaves, Mary Shelley’s book punishes Victor for trying to manipulate nature by creating life out of death. “Mask of Anarchy” is about taking revenge on a government and militia that harmed its people, similar to how Frankenstein’s monster caught revenge on Victor and others in his path because of his mistreatment. Percy and Mary Shelley seemed to jump ideas off of each other, which is interesting to me because when Mary first published Frankenstein anonymously, Percy had written a preface and many people assumed he had written the novel. I wonder whose ideas were more prevalent in the relationship, or if they equally shared ideas and opinions? 

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