History vs Hollywood
Does Mary Shelley do the Frankenstein author justice?
Director: Haifaa al-mansour Starring: Elle Fanning, Douglas Booth, Bel Powley, Maisie Williams and Ben Hardy Country: Ireland, Luxembourg, United Kingdom Released: 2017 01
As the movie depicts, Mary Shelley was the daughter of philosophers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin. However, she also had an older maternal halfsister, Fanny who was raised by Godwin after her mother’s death, but is not included in the film.
Mary really was sent to Scotland to stay with the Baxter family and she had a difficult relationship with her stepmother. Her father claims in the film that the visit would offer her freedom – it is believed he sent her in real life to discover radical politics.
William Godwin really did disapprove of his daughter’s relationship with Percy, who was already married, and threatened to disown her. She was surprised and upset when her father stuck to his word, but they eventually reconciled in later life after Percy’s early death.
Percy, Mary, and her stepsister Claire did indeed travel to Geneva, Switzerland, to stay at Lord Byron’s home, where Shelley became inspired to write Frankenstein. The film also accurately portrays Claire falling pregnant with Byron’s baby.
Though the film shows the death of Mary’s daughter and mentions the suicide of Percy’s wife, it does not portray other darker aspects of her life, such as Fanny’s suicide is not mentioned despite it occurring in 1816, the same year that Shelley began to write Frankenstein.
Verdict Spotlights one of England’s greatest writers but fails to dive into the depths of Shelley’s fascinating life