An Age of Revolution (1760-1830)

Frankenstein was written at a time when Europe was undergoing enormous revolutions. The American Revolution of 1776 and French Revolution of 1789 had both removed Kings from government. This is important because all Kings claimed to have been chosen by God and, by killing one, people showed they were starting to reject the idea that God controlled their world. Both of these revolutions were a reaction against the unfair conditions the poorest in society lived in, while the richest lived in spectacular wealth.

This continued in the ideas of the age. Science and philosophy both made enormous strides and rejected many traditional views of the world. Medicine, anatomy and physics all began to change the view of Man’s relationship with God. Theories that all planets revolved around the Earth were proven to be untrue, and the beginnings of modern medicine were found when scientists began to think of the human body as predictable and rational – as though it were a machine. Thus, if it broke down, the fault could be identified and repaired. Modern Pathology was born as a result.

On top of the political turmoil and scientific revolution, Great Britain also became the first industrialised nation, with factories and steam power transforming the nature of cities. Hundreds of thousands of people who had been made unemployed by new farming machinery moved into the cities to seek work in the new mills and factories, creating a kind of modern slavery where people were paid little to work in barbaric conditions.

It seemed that the whole world was going through an astonishing transformation, and radical ideas would light the way.

Task 2: Answer these questions in your jotter:

1. What was so shocking about the removal of a King to the people of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries?
2. What form of science was formed during this time?
3. What is the dictionary definition of this word (get a dictionary)?
4. How do you think scientists were thought of by most people?
5. What kind of work did people seek in the cities?
6. What do you think these people felt about industrialisation?

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