Contents Index

God raises my weakness

In her revisions Mary Shelley somewhat mitigates the picture of institutional injustice so starkly presented in the first edition. In particular, she pulls back sharply from her earlier representation of the Church's place in this inhumane structure. The Justine of 1831 becomes much more conventionally pious and more tranquilly submissive to what she conceives to be the will of heaven.

The reasons for this shift in tone may be many and complicated. One obvious one is that England was on the brink of the passage of the Great Reform Bill when her novel was republished in 1831, and the prelude to that sweeping legislation, the repeal of the Corporation and Test Acts in 1828, had opened an era of religious freedom and toleration in which such attacks would have seemed truly of another age and ungenerous, if not intolerant, in and of themselves.