Shelley was born in London in 1797, daughter of famous radical writers Mary Wollstonecraft and William Godwin; both of whom exemplified the ideologies of the French revolution. Shelley's mother was a pioneer feminist writer who had made her name with her revolutionary ideas opposing the patriarchal oppression of the female gender. Her father was made famous by his radical ideologies of political and philosophical anarchism. Thus it is not unusual that, as the product of such revolutionary parents, Mary Shelley would harbour the same feminist and Romantic ideologies and subsequently challenge the ideologies of the patriarchal society in which she lived. Within this society, the pursuit for glory was valued above the opposing feminine ideologies which valorised the importance of familial and parental duties. It is therefore under the influence of these values that the characters within Shelley's novel, Frankenstein, are constructed. Shelley uses these characters to challenge the male orientated values and attitudes of the time by creating them as stereotypical constructs of 19th century European society.
One man who influenced the creation of the characters within Frankenstein was the philosopher and social critic, Jean Jaques Rousseau. Rousseau was a 19th Century philosopher who introduced theories concerning the irrepressible confinements of familial obligations. Shelley's disgust at the philosopher's cold-hearted abandonment of his five illegitimate children by Therese le Vasseur, an illiterate working class girl, had a significant impact on the construction of the novel's main character, Frankenstein. Just as Rousseau condemned his own children, Frankenstein abandoned his own creation -- the monster, similarly condemning his "child" to a life of ostracism and social rejection. In both cases parental abandonment resulted from masculine, egotistical, pursuit for glory. The fate of Rousseau's children was determined by the philosopher's masculine pursuit of fame.