to shake off my chains
This conception of slavery as a psychological as well as physical
condition is very much of a piece with other literary productions by the
Geneva circle during the summer of 1816, most particularly The Prisoner of Chillon, written
by Lord Byron in the week after he and
Percy Bysshe Shelley visited the
Castle of Chillon during their boat trip around the lake in mid-July.
included an account in the
letters he appended to A History of a Six Weeks' Tour. In
Byron's poem, at the end of his long captivity, François de
Bonnivard, the prisoner, claims, "It was at length the same to me, /
Fetter'd or fetterless to be" (lines
372-73) and ruefully notes, in much the same language as Victor
employs here, that "iron is a cankering thing, / For in these limbs its
teeth remain, / With marks that will not wear away" (lines 38-40).