the living spirit of love
The sexist stereotypes in which this tribute is expressed can be (as they
have been) laid at Mary Shelley's
doorstep. But it is, after all, Victor who
is speaking, and his monologue is telling the reader a great deal about
him that he does not seem to realize. Since this is a technique by which
fictional characterization is traditionally accomplished, perhaps the
reader will want to hold him as a character fully responsible for his own
sentiments. The Preface, we will remember, went out of its way to separate
the author from her characters (Preface 2).
Leaving Victor's perspective to the side, we may, as readers, surely honor
the affectionate warmth with which Elizabeth assumes her nurturing domestic
role and melds her small community together. We might wish, however, to
suspend judgment on its absolute value until later events can confirm
that it profits her as much as it does those she so selflessly serves.