Date of Award


Thesis Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Liberal Studies


Dr. Tom Cook

Second Advisor

Dr. Gail Sinclair


Although Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus, published in 1818, is assigned to the Romantic period of literature, it surpasses her contemporaries by its complexity of themes, philosophies, and social commentary embedded deep within. This paper contends that the novel should be considered one of the seminal works of modernity by closely examining the following elements of Modern literature as they apply to Frankenstein: the beginnings of speculative fiction found within the novel, science vs. religion, dark aspects of the psyche, disenchantment with the world, and the isolation/emptiness of the individual. Additionally, Mary Shelley’s own life and the influences of her parents, husband, and friends are examined to further prove how this budding author was of a more modern mindset than her contemporaries. By applying methods of literary analysis, it is determined that Mary Shelley’s waking dream undeniably breaks the bonds of traditional Romanticism and with bold pragmatism and universal symbolism, illuminates a changing literary landscape and journeys forth into the Modern. Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus transcends the literary period to which it is formally assigned.