More on Orlando, Robin Hood, Amadis and St. George

More on Orlando, Robin Hood, Amadis and St. George:

Mary Shelley's knowledge of these figures shows her drawing both on popular stories and on her extensive reading:Orlando Furioso

  • Orlando is the principal character in Orlando Furioso by the Italian poet Ludovico Ariosto, published in 1532. It is set in the 8th century, when Christians and Muslims fought for the control of Europe. Orlando is the leader of the Paladins or Christian knights, who wins a decisive battle against his opponents, the Saracens
  • Robin Hood was a legendary outlaw, who may have been based on a real person, though scholars disagree as to who this might have been or when or where he lived if so. Versions of his story are told in numerous tales and ballads, which usually present him in a positive manner, as a man who lives in the woods, robs only the rich, supports the poor, protects women, fights and kills only in self-defence and is faithful to the monarch
  • Amadis is the central figure in Amadis of Gaul, a Spanish or Portuguese romance, surviving in written form from the 15th century but deriving from a much earlier version. Amadis, having been separated from his British parents as a child, becomes a brave, chivalrous and victorious knight
  • St. George was adopted as patron saint of England in the 14th century. He was a Roman soldier who converted to Christianity and was martyred. He is usually shown rescuing a maiden by killing a dragon, a symbolic version of the triumph of Christianity over evil, with the maiden representing the Church.

What the four figures have in common are their many adventures, their chivalry and their fidelity to a religious or national cause. At the time Frankenstein is set (and later), such stories would have provided colourful and exciting reading for children.

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