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mockery of justice

Why Mary Shelley should begin the chapter by deliberately obliterating all suspense is a good question not easily answered. Certainly, Victor's remark asks us to scrutinize how this court conducts itself as a social institution and as a microcosm of the polity of Geneva. Since Geneva's republican government (1.1.1 and note) and its softening of class hierarchies (1.5.3 and note) have already been admiringly stressed, we might expect from Mary Shelley's political allegiances to witness a trial conducted in ideal circumstances. But that is far from being the case. Instead of a jury of peers, a panel of male magistrates decides Justine's lot, and to exonerate a verdict reached by only circumstantial evidence they employ the coercive power of the church to extort a false confession. Victor's private denunciation of these proceedings does not indict his own society or consider the extent to which his own family, that long line of syndics, is complicit in an injustice that is all but institutionalized. It will be left for his Creature, who is likewise victimized, to articulate the more radical implications of such a society (see 2.5.5).