Although there have been several deaths already confronted in the novel --
those of Walton's cousin (Letter 1.3),
of Caroline's father (1.1.2), and of
Elizabeth's mother (1.1.3) -- this is
the first that is not simply reported, but is enacted before the reader.
That Caroline's death is a consequence of selfless nurture suggests that
this is an expectation of women that is not without danger.
Mary Shelley could not have failed
to recognize that, in focusing so
sharply on the death of Caroline Frankenstein as being brought on by her
stepdaughter, she was in some sense rehearsing the death of her own mother
Mary Wollstonecraft following her
birth. Critics have likewise traced the novel's twin emphases on
responsibility and guilt to this crucial biographical detail.
- Critical Approaches: