Contents Index

The Social Order vs. the Wretch1: Mary Shelley's Contradictory-Mindedness in Frankenstein

Sylvia Bowerbank

ELH 46 (1979): 418-431.

{418} In his The Spirit of the Age, published in 1825, William Hazlitt attempted to articulate the social and intellectual spirit of his age by setting up two poles of tension: on one side, there was philosophical radicalism ("the true spirit of the age," as Hazlitt claimed), and on the other the spirit of conservatism. The book consists of portraits of the leading contemporary spokesmen each of whom Hazlitt characterizes as either creative or destructive of the "true spirit." One of these portraits is of William Godwin Mary Shelley's father. According to Hazlitt, it was in Godwin's fail from intellectual prominence to infamy and oblivion that the betrayal of the true spirit of the age was best reflected: "Fatal reverse! Is truth so variable? . . . Is it at a burning heat in 1793, and below zero in 1814?"2 Not only Mary Shelley's father, but also her mother Mary Wollstonecraft, and her husband, Percy Shelley, were committed defenders of the radical perspective. In 1816-19, when she wrote Frankenstein, Mary consciously shared their viewpoint. Her journal, from 1814 to 1817, clearly shows that both she and Shelley were dedicated not only to the study of such works as Godwin's Enquiry concerning Political Justice (1793) and Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman (1792), but also to an attempt to live according to the radical ideas they expressed in their works.3 And if we read Frankenstein looking for a defense of the radical perspective, we do find that Mary articulates what may be called a Godwinian concern for the victims of an oppressive domestic and social order. But, unlike Shelley, Mary was also imbued with the spirit of conservatism which dominated England during her adolescence. In 1815, she wrote of herself: "I never quarrel with inconsistency."4 Over twenty years later, after her ideas had become increasingly conventional, she still thought of herself as the ambivalent type:
With regard to the "good cause" -- the cause of the advancement of freedom and knowledge -- of the rights of women, &c. -- I am not {419} a person of opinions . . . Some have a passion for reforming the world; others do not cling to particular opinions. That my parents and Shelley were of the former class, makes me respect it . . . I have not argumentative powers; I see things pretty clearly but cannot demonstrate them. Besides, I feel the counter-arguments too strongly. I do not feel that I could say aught to support the cause efficiently.5
Frankenstein at once articulates the two contradictory perspectives of Mary and her contemporaries, the radical one and the conservative one. It sentimentally defends, and yet skeptically attacks, domestic and social tranquillity. Both the intellectual misfit (Victor Frankenstein) and the physical one (the Creature) are excluded by the intolerance and narrowness of society; yet though they frequently condemn society for its unfitness as a home, they just as often long to be part of it as it is, and rage against themselves for their inability to conform. This contradictoriness permeates the novel. To illustrate this thesis, I shall periodically contrast Frankenstein with various writings of Wollstonecraft, Godwin and Shelley who all three consistently defended the radical perspective.

In the 1818 Preface to Frankenstein, Percy Shelley, pretending to be Mary, wisely warns that no inference is to be drawn from the novel "as prejudicing any philosophical doctrine of whatever kind"; however, he then goes on to claim that its chief concern is "the exhibition of the amiableness of domestic affection and the excellence of universal virtue."6 In his "Review" of Frankenstein, published with his posthumous papers, Shelley writes that "the pictures of domestic manners are of the most simple and attaching character: the father's is irresistible and deep."7 And obviously, all of the three main narrators (Walton, as well as Victor and the Creature) do constantly praise the virtues of those more settled than they are; they frequently wish to share in this comfortable bliss. But it seems Shelley did not read the novel as carefully as he might have done. Even though Victor, guilt-ridden narrator that he is, repeatedly claims to believe in the same good as his father does, there emerges, from his narration, an undercurrent of questioning of the justice of the father's order and that of virtuous Geneva which the reader should not ignore. Although Victor mentions the "spirit of kindness and indulgence with which he was brought up, and emphasizes that his parents were not "tyrants" but the "creators" of his many "delights" (F:II, 41), Victor learns that some of his joys -- for example, his reading of Cornelius Agrippa -- are rejected {420} by his father as a waste of time, as "sad trash," and therefore, he is forced to hide his favorite activity.

Similarly, Alphonse Frankenstein, in a letter to Victor, confirms our fears that his judgments are limited by his propensity to maintain a tranquil rational surface no matter what pain or chaos brews beneath. Little William has just been brutally murdered:

Come, Victor; not brooding thoughts of vengeance against the assassin, but with the feelings of peace and gentleness, that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our minds. (F:VII, 76)
As his secrets become more complex, Victor is ever aware how far beyond his father's homey morality his behaviour has gone. When innocent Justine is about to be convicted, Alphonse consoles Elizabeth: "If she is, as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws and the activity with which I shall prevent the slightest shadow of partiality" (F:VII, 83). Justine, now one of the social outcasts, is even bullied into confessing in order to avoid spiritual excommunication; the community and the father seem content to rest on her lie. Victor repeatedly does not dare confide in his "deep" father for fear of being labelled "insane." After the death of Clerval, when Victor tries to confess his guilt in the deaths, his father insists that they change the subject of conversation; he prefers to think Victor is ill from grief (F:XXII, 187). That Victor was right to fear his father's reaction becomes evident after his death when Victor finally goes before a judge and asks help in destroying the monster. The magistrate does think him mad, or at best delirious, and condescendingly soothes him. Victor cries out, "How ignorant art thou in thy pride of wisdom! Cease; you know not what it is you say" (F:XXIII, 201). This last indictment certainly includes the truth of his father.

Thus, though Victor tells his tale to Walton in order to teach "how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be the world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow" (F:IV, 86), Mary constantly undermines her own didacticism. We can see this clearly if we compare Frankenstein with Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho, a novel which does exhibit "the amiableness of domestic affection." Radcliffe chooses the omniscient point of view and consistently demonstrates the moral law "that innocence, though oppressed by injustice, shall, supported by patience, finally triumph over misfortune."8 Moreover, the main exponent of this moral law is the father of the heroine, Emily. The {421} villain, Montoni, is relentlessly wicked; Emily never falters through all her horrifying trials; and Vallancourt, her true love, who appears to have been indiscreet during much of the novel, never really was. The novel ends returning Emily and Vallancourt to the father's ideal of happiness, to "the retreat of goodness, wisdom and domestic blessedness."9 There is no such simple defense of domestic felicity in Frankenstein: the father's advice is too narrow; the lover, Victor, is guilty; the villain, the Creature, is as sinned against as sinning; and the one who returns to domestic tranquillity at the end, Walton, does so with bitter reluctance. Moreover, sweet Elizabeth, the guardian of what she calls the "immutable laws" of "our placid home and our contented hearts" (F:VI, 67), is actually brutally murdered. Furthermore, all five of these characters, though two only in brief letters, narrate their fallible viewpoints in what L. J. Swingle has termed "a series of interlocked dramatic monologues. '10

Mary Shelley creates in Elizabeth (and all the women in the novel) that predictable self-sacrificing female entity which preserves domestic bliss. Victor repeatedly praises her devotion to his family. For example, he recalls how "enchanting" she was when Caroline Frankenstein (the mother) died: "She forgot even her own regret in her endeavour to make us forget" (F:III, 48). In a novel which gives the feelings of three male narrators, Elizabeth articulates her attitudes in only two brief letters. In both cases, though Victor has abandoned her, -- the first time for six years of study in Ingolstadt and the second, for two years of travel -- her first concern is for his well-being, since he fell gravely ill during both separations from his home. In the first letter, she shows no direct sign of anxiety about her own future, but does write herself "into better spirits" by recounting the gossip about the "good people of Geneva," all of which concerns which pretty (or ugly) woman married which prosperous (or unfortunate) man. She even mentions that little William already prefers one five-year-old as his "wife" (F:VI, 69-70). In the second letter, she confronts the issue. She is by now in her mid-twenties; it seems she did not have the "courage" to bring up the subject of marriage before; yet she has had all her hopes in this "favorite plan" of his parents. With characteristic "disinterested affection," as she calls it, she says that she will be tranquil even if he does not marry her so long as he is happy (F:XXII, 188-89).

Only the Justine incident depicts Elizabeth in any moral struggle to maintain equanimity. Swingle points out that though Elizabeth is {422} more aware than Clerval of "the unsettling question . . . of whether human thoughts conform to the nature of things," and though it occurs to her that "falsehood can look so like truth," Elizabeth draws back from the abyss, from facing Truth, to take comfort in shared truth: she says to Victor, "I feel she was innocent; you are of the same opinion, and that confirms me."11 In fact, she immediately rouses herself out of these painful questions because she sees Victor suffer as a result of her doubts, and devotes herself again to rendering him happy, thus renewing her role as the conserver of the "immutable laws" of "our placid home."

The social order, in Frankenstein, repeatedly redeems pretty, tractable females from wretchedness. In both the 1818 and 1831 editions, Elizabeth herself begins as wretch who is adopted and made happy by the Frankensteins. In the 1818 edition, she is rescued from a fate particularly wretched to the author, that of being brought up by a step-mother.l2 In the 1831 edition, though she begins in "a rude abode," she is not really one of the beggars but a beauty "of a distinct species" and actually the daughter of a Viennese nobleman (F:I, 38). This same pattern of the socially-redeemed female occurs in Caroline, the mother, who was found by Alphonse Frankenstein "an orphan and a beggar" (again beautiful) as she knelt by her father's coffin "weeping bitterly" (F:I, 36). Alphonse married her into prosperity, and even had the "historical" moment of their meeting made into a painting which hangs over the mantelpiece in the library (F:VII, 80). Caroline, now one of the fortunates, becomes "the guardian angel to the afflicted," often entering the cottages of the poor (F:I, 32), and later educates Justine into the family (F:VI, 68). That Justine learns womanly docility is clear in her reaction when she is unjustly sentenced to die. She consoles Elizabeth: "Learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the will of heaven" (F:VIII, 90).

All of the women in Frankenstein are characterized by that "gentleness, docility and spaniel-like affection" which so enraged Mary's mother, Mary Wollstonecraft.13 When she died, just after giving birth to Mary Shelley, Wollstonecraft was working on a novel which Godwin later put together and published as Maria or the Wrongs of Woman. What is uncanny about one long section of the fragment is that a mother, Maria, addresses it to her infant daughter because she fears "death may snatch me from you, before you can weigh my advice, or enter into my reasoning."14 Maria recounts the injustices of her life (the outline of which is highly suggestive of Wollstonecraft's own life), in order to prepare her {423} daughter for the ills she must encounter in a world which is "a vast prison" for women who are all born slaves.15 Though Wollstonecraft could not have foreseen that she would be snatched away from her daughters, Mary Shelley must have felt the directness of Maria's addresses to the daughter she would not see again, bequeathing the struggle against tyranny to her.16

In Maria, amidst a whole range of female "outlaws of the world,"17 Jemima is the ultimate in outcasts: bastard, orphan, pauper, prostitute, criminal, "hunted from hole to hole, as if she had been a beast of prey or inflicted with a moral plague."18 When Wollstonecraft has her tell her life-story, the vital justice of her rage becomes clear:
The chicken has a wing to shelter under; but I had no bosom to nestle in, no kindred warmth to foster me . . . (her countenance grew ferocious as she spoke) . . . No wonder then, treated like a creature of another species, that I began to envy and at length to hate . . . I was an egg dropped on the sand; a pauper by nature hunted from family to family, who belonged to no one -- and nobody cared for me. I was despised from my birth, and denied the chalice of obtaining a footing for myself in society. Yes, I had not even the chance of being considered as a fellow creature.19
We look in vain for this tone of fierce outrage against social injustice in the females of Frankenstein, but in the Creature, we find a worthy descendant of Jemima, the passionate voice of rage protesting his exclusion from society and his loneliness. Like Jemima, he is by nature benevolent but is forced to his criminality by injustice. Mary Shelley's decision to make the Creature male does not violate the spirit of Wollstonecraft since it is clear from the "Dedication" to Talleyrand in Vindication of the Rights of Woman that her arguments for woman's rights and duties are for all humans and are part of her commitment to a war against all forms of social tyranny. But although the Creature does speak in the spirit of Wollstonecraft, this spirit is qualified, throughout his narration, by the caution and doubts of Mary Shelley's own attitudes and temperament.

As well, the tension between the victim and the social order which Mary sets up in Frankenstein resembles a typically Godwinian situation which H. N. Brailsford describes as "a persistent nightmare, in which a lonely individual finds arrayed against him all the prejudices of society, all forms of convention, all the forces of law."20 But Godwin ensures that our sympathies remain with the oppressed individual. In the Preface to Caleb Williams or Things As They Are (1794), Godwin claims that the novel is a "vehicle" to {424} teach a "valuable lesson." He is well aware that there are two opposing perspectives: "one party pleads for reformation and change, the other extols in warmest terms the existing constitution of society," and he sets out to demonstrate the despotism of "things as they are."21 In his novel, we repeatedly find the same thematic pattern: Caleb, an innocent man, becomes an outcast persecuted and pursued by the socially-respectable Falkland until Caleb turns malicious himself and, as he sees it, "murders" Falkland. Old Collins' goodness becomes tainted when he chooses to accept society as it is rather than to sacrifice the "comforts" of his life by inquiring into the injustices done to Caleb.22 Among the thieves, who had "cast off all control from established principle" and were "uninvolved in the debilitating routine of human affairs," there is "benevolence," "generosity" and, above all, "energy."23 And, by the end of the novel, Caleb realizes that even Falkland was a noble spirit until the "wilderness of society" which is "a rank and rotten soil from which every finer shrub draws poison as it grows" corrupted him.24

This is the moral which seems to emerge from the Creature's own history: initial benevolence is poisoned by an unjust society. But it is important to remember while considering the Creature's perspective that Frankenstein also provides Victor's perspective from which the Creature's actions are constantly condemned. To Victor, the Creature represents irrational, anti-social behaviour; Victor even calls the Creature his own "vampire" spirit (F:VIII, 80). On the other hand, Victor praises Elizabeth as the protector of the social order; she is "the living spirit of love." Because the Creature is the destroyer of Elizabeth and all she represents, he is "monster," "fiend," "devil" to Victor. But even from the Creature's own perspective, Frankenstein does not provide a consistent Godwinian argument. Although the Creature often and vehemently defends his "crimes," it is not long before he will turn around and condemn himself, thus showing the extent to which he acquired his moral perceptions as well as his ability to speak and read, from eavesdropping on the DeLacey family. Before he found the three books he reads, "the cottage of my protectors had been the only school in which I studied human nature." The Sorrows of Werther reinforced his experiences of the domestic gentleness of the cottagers; Plutarch's Lives made him abhor vice in public affairs; only in Paradise Lost did he find that, though he tried to identify with Adam, Satan was "the fitter emblem of my condition" (F:XV, 130-32).

{425} Though his vindication and self-prosecution are intertwined in his narration, his arguments against the social establishment are still powerful. First, his viewpoint casts even further doubt upon the "innocence" of his victims. Indeed, he claims to be the victim. They are all self-satisfied partakers in a social system which thrives -- or better, which stagnates -- on excluding all wretches. The Creature is so grotesque, that, as Shelley observes, his rejection by such a society is a necessity:

Though his mind was such as its first impressions framed it, affectionate and full of moral sensibility, yet the circumstances of his existence are so monstrous and uncommon, that, when the consequences of them became developed in action, his original goodness was gradually turned into inextinguishable misanthropy and revenge.25
The other wretches -- the poor, the ugly, the criminal, the foreigner, the unmotherly woman (Justine's mother), even the intellectual wretch -- are all redeemable if they can conform. But, as the Creature recognizes, "the human senses are insurmountable barriers to our union" (F:XVII, 147). Yet his cries to be loved in spite of his absolute wretchedness, act as a moral demand not only that Victor acknowledge his creation but that social community be fluid and dynamic, that it accommodate itself to the aberrations outside its "love," that it strive to be in relationship to all the living and not content itself with sterile and selective ideas of community. To include the Monster, in principle, demands an expansiveness of love. Shelley tried to define such a love in his essay "On Love": "[Love] is that powerful attraction toward all we conceive, or fear, or hope beyond ourselves . . . [It] is the bond and the sanction which connects not only man with man, but with everything which exists."26

There is no such love in the society of Frankenstein and yet, until experience teaches him to hate, the Creature reaches out to man expecting to love and be loved. Victor's first description of him suggests that, "new-born" though he was, he tries to make friends:

He held up the curtain of the bed; and his eyes, if eyes they may be called, were fixed on me. His jaws opened, and he muttered some inarticulate sounds, while a grin wrinkled his cheeks. He might have spoken, but I did not hear; one hand stretched out seemingly to detain me, but I escaped, and rushed down the stairs.
(F:V, 61)
During the two years of work, Victor expects his creature to be {426} beautiful, though he admits in his journal that he is repressing disgust. But when he sees the Creature moving, the full horror of how unacceptable his creation is to the human mind overwhelms him and he flees. Victor shows this same prejudice against ugliness, albeit to a much lesser degree, in his reluctance to work with Professor Krempe because of Krempe's "repulsive" countenance, physiognomy and manners (F:III, 50, 53). Yet even when both his reason and sense of mercy feel the justice of the Creature's plea for a companion -- "you could deny it only in the wantonness of power and cruelty" -- Victor is only briefly able to overcome his repugnance:
His words had a strange effect upon me. I compassionated him, and sometimes felt a wish to console him; but when I looked upon him, when I saw the filthy mass that moved and talked, my heart sickened, and my feelings were altered to those of horror and hatred.
(F:XVII, 149))
Aware that Victor would like to push him off the icy cliffs, the Creature confronts Victor with the twisted logic of mankind. He asks Victor why he should respect society's laws which "would not call it murder" to kill him because society classifies his life as an aberration.

From the beginning the rest of the community expresses the same intolerance as Victor does and shares in his culpability. The first fellow the Creature meets runs off leaving a breakfast, but soon a whole village drives him off with stones and missiles. Despite this, he does not decide to get revenge, but instead sets about trying to make himself more acceptable. He works at learning language because he imagines that by "gentle demeanor and conciliating words" he can win the love of the cottagers (F:XII, 117). Even after his hopes are dashed when the DeLaceys reject him -- Agatha fainting in horror and Felix beating him with a stick -- and he has burned down his "paradise" (the DeLacey cottage), and a rustic has wounded him after he rescued a little girl, the Creature still approaches baby William with the hope that "this little creature was unprejudiced, and had lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity" (F:XVI, 144). Unfortunately, William has already been taught to spurn the ugly -- perhaps by fairy-tale indoctrination by his surrogate mother, Elizabeth, since he curses the Creature as "ogre." The child pathetically invokes the social prestige of his father in order to frighten the Creature and thus is {427} already a party to his society's intolerance. With ruthless logic drawn from his experiences, the Creature comes to realize that Caroline, Justine (and later, Elizabeth) are all cruel beauties (like Agatha) who would abhor him, and so he blames them for his fall from goodness. He plants proof of Justine's "guilt" on the sleeping girl:

I bent over her, and whispered, 'Awake, fairest, thy lover is near . . . the sleeper stirred; a thrill of terror ran through me. Should she indeed awake, and see me and curse me, and denounce the murderer? . . . The thought was madness; it stirred the fiend within me -- not I, but she shall suffer: the murder I have committed because I am forever robbed of all that she could give me, she shall atone. The crime had a source in her: be hers the punishment! (F:XVI, 145-46)27
Yet even as he defends this action, he calls himself "fiend."

If the Creature's logic were pure, Mary's thematic intent in presenting his case could be as single-minded as that of Shelley in the Assassins. In that prose fragment, written in 1814, "an unostentatious community" of early Christians withdraws from the tyranny of insolent Rome and from "the degenerate mass of mankind" in order to initiate a new society in the valley of Bethzatanai. The Assassins (the inhabitants of Bethzatanai) unite "submission to the law of Christ" with an "intrepid spirit of inquiry," in harmony with Nature and in communal sharing with each other. Needless to say, an Assassin, unpolluted by the monstrous wickedness of civilization, would "wage unremitting hostility from principle" against outside societies. Shelley writes, "Secure and self-enshrined in the magnificence and pre-eminence of his conceptions, spotless as the light of heaven, he would be victim among the men of calumny and persecution."28 For Shelley, violence against tyranny is justified from the uncompromising viewpoint of a more loving order -- or better, disorder. Shelley is able to imagine the Assassin, a man untainted by the customs of civilization, but Mary gives the Creature no "self-enshrined" confidence from a vision of Bethzatanai. His paradise was the DeLacey cottage, and his moral reflections usually end as judgments against himself. For instance, though his features are grotesque, he is apparently more agile and strong than humans are. He even brags that he is superior to man because "I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment" (F:XVII, 148).29 He could {428} behold himself as beautiful, but instead he envies the "perfect forms" of the cottagers and sees himself as a deformed monster (F:XII, 116). Nor can he avoid reaching out for companions. Shelley wrote that: "in solitude, or that deserted state when we are surrounded by human beings and yet they sympathize not with us, we love the flowers, the grass, the waters and the sky."30 And Mary has the Creature love the first object he distinguishes, the moon, and afterwards the rest of nature. But he soon needs human community. He cannot figure out how to relight fire, and more poignantly, he cannot teach himself language by imitating birds (F:XI, 106). Pathetically, the more he learns to understand from the cottagers, the more he loves them and accepts their viewpoint. Thus, in one moment, he will argue (as he does to Walton at the end of the novel) that he is a miserable, abandoned "abortion" driven to crimes by the "virtuous": "Why do you not hate Felix who drove his friend from his door with contumely? Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the saviour of his child?" In the next moment, he turns on himself and admits he strangled the innocent. He says to Walton, "your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regard myself" (F:XXIV, 221-22). The Creature's mind is characteristically paradoxical. Even in his most anti-social moments, he seeks a companion. When he kills Elizabeth, he claims (in the defiant words of Milton's Satan) that evil "became my good." Yet even in this act, he ensures that Victor will he his companion in misery until death. (Note how he waits at Elizabeth's grave for Victor to find him, and later he leaves marks on trees and a dead hare for food for his pursuer.)

The theme underlying all the Creature's demands is his right to life, his right to the joys of relationship with the rest of living beings. George Levine claims that all the Creature ever really wanted was for Victor to love him and care for him as Alphonse does for his son, "what each nineteenth-century fictional orphan wants -- new parents, someone to love and rely on, justice, a place in which to define himself and be happy."3l But the novel forces us to face that neither Victor nor the Creature can find a home in such a limited social order. They are both homeless wretches, one by his physical and the other by his intellectual deformity. Georg Lukacs has written that "crime and madness are objectivations of transcendental homelessness -- the homelessness of an action in the human order of social relations."32 Socially, the Creature is a "criminal"; Victor is mad. Neither can fit in the human home as it is, but while the {429} Creature must face the agony of this throughout, Victor is nearly always duplicitous, pretending that he fits in even to the extent of letting Justine die to protect himself from the charge of madness. By the end, Frankenstein has retreated so far from defending his attempt to go beyond what is, that he becomes the hateful avenger for the unfit home and imagines himself to be involved in a heavenly task in seeking to destroy a wretch. Moreover, Victor's reason for telling his story, as he reminds the ambitious Walton, is as a didactic warning to those who go beyond the pale. The Creature, who (unlike Walton) has to be an alien -- even an alien to himself -- given the narrowness of the social order, in the tend accepts society's verdict. He sentences himself to death, even burning his body so "its remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowed wretch who would create such another as I have been." Yet Frankenstein's conclusion has the same characteristic contradictory-mindedness. Victor's last words are "Yet another may succeed." And we are left with Walton's bitterness because he is forced to give up his plan to find the north pole for the "benefit of mankind" by the "cowardice" and "injustice" of his crew who want to return to their homes.

When the single-minded Shelley wanted to envision the struggle between the redeeming rebel and the evil tyrant, he was able to polarize them into the pure Prometheus and the oppressive Jupiter. While Prometheus is "exempt from the taints of ambition, envy, revenge, and a desire for personal aggrandizement,"33 Jupiter represents the social status-quo with its mind-deceiving order by which "all the best things are confused to ill."34 But there are no pure minds in Frankenstein, not in Mary's "modern Prometheus," Victor Frankenstein, nor in the Creature, nor in the author herself. The strength of the novel lies in its demonstration that the tension between the two poles, the conservative one and the radical one, exists not only externally, politically and socially, but within the would-be rebel's own contradictory mind.


1. I have used the word "wretch" for social rebel and outcast mainly because it is the one most frequently used by the Creature for himself and by Victor for himself after his "fall."

2. William Hazlitt, The Spirit of the Age or Contemporary Portraits (London: Grant Richards, 1904), pp. 17-18.

{430} 3. See, in Mary Shelley's Journal, ed. Frederick L. Jones (Norman: Univ. of Oklahoma Press, 1947), the lists Mary wrote of the books she and or Shelley read in 1814 (pp. 32-33), in 1815 (pp. 48-49), in 1816 (pp. 72-74) and in 1817 (pp. 88-91). Both read most of her parents' works and even re-read some of them. In addition, the journal records their reading of such works as Abbe Barruel's Histoire du Jacobinisme (in 1815); Richard Holmes discusses the influence this book had on Shelley's radical thought in his Shelley: the Pursuit (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1974), pp. 53, 126-27.

4. Mary wrote this in February 1815, when her father was on one hand refusing to communicate with her and Shelley because of their elopement, and, on the other, insisting on his interest in Shelley's finances. Journal, p. 37.

5. Journal, p. 204. My italics.

6. Preface to the 1818 Edition of Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus (New York: Airmont 1963), p. 14. All further references to this, the 1831 text of the novel, will be given in the body of the essay indicated by the abbreviation "F." References to the 1818 text of the novel will be from the one edited by James Rieger (New York: Bobbs-Merrill Co., 1976).

7. P. B. Shelley, "On Frankenstein," Prose Works, ed. R. H. Shepherd, 2 vols. (London: Chatto and Windus, 1888), I, p. 418.

8. Ann Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho: A Romance, 1st published 1794 (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1966), p. 672.

9. Ibid., p. 672.

10. L. J. Swingle "Frankenstein's Monster and its Romantic Relatives: Problems of Knowledge in English Romanticism," TSLL, 15 (1973), 52.

11. Frankenstein, IX, p. 95. See Swingle, pp. 61-62.

12. Rieger, Frankenstein (1818), p. 32. Just after her elopement, Mary wrote to Shelley: "I detest Mrs. Godwin; she plagues my father out of his life; and then -- well no matter -- Why will not Godwin follow the obvious bent of his affections & be reconciled to us -- no his prejudices, the world and she -- do you not hate her my love . . ." Quoted in My Best Mary: the Selected Letters, ed. Muriel Spark and Derek Stanford (London: Allan Wingate, 1953), p. 20.

13. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman (New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 1967), p. 68.

14. Wollstonecraft, Maria or the Wrongs of Woman (New York: W. W. Norton & Co. 1975), p. 74.

15. Ibid., p. 27.

16. The adolescent Mary, in her loneliness and alienation from the Godwin household (especially her step-mother), spent her time sitting near her mother's grave writing. She was only more eager to emphasize her relationship with her mother after meeting Shelley because he was already an avid admirer of Wollstonecraft's ideas. They both read Maria in 1814.

Janet Todd has written a more detailed comparison of Maria and Frankenstein in which she concludes, "the similarities between the experiences and characters of Jemima and the Monster are sufficiently striking to suggest that Mary Shelley had her mother's work somewhere in mind when she wrote her novel" ("Frankenstein's Daughter: Mary Shelley and Mary Wollstonecraft," Women and Literature, 2 [1976], 25).

17. Maria, p. 104.

18. Ibid., p. 28.

19. Ibid., p. 53-56.

20. H. N. Brailsford, Shelley, Godwin and their Circle (London: Archon Books, 1969), p 53-56.

21. William Godwin, Caleb Williams (London: Frederick Warne & Co., n.d.).

22. Ibid., p. 137.

23. Ibid., p. 96.

{431} 24. Ibid. p. 144.

25. "On Frankenstein," Prose Works, I, p. 418.

26. "On Love," Prose Works, I, p. 427.

27. This is one case in which the 1831 edition is vastly superior to the 1818 text; in 1818, this section read, "I perceived a woman passing near . . . Here, I thought, is one of those whose smiles are bestowed on all but me; she shall not escape . . . I approached her unperceived, and placed the portrait securely in one of the folds of her dress" (Rieger, p. 171).

28. "The Assassins," Prose Works, II, pp. 153, 157.

29. Mary seems momentarily influenced by Shelley's earlier ideas on vegetarianism which blamed diet for social ills. See Holmes, p. 220.

30. "On Love," Prose Works, I, p. 428.

31. George Levine, "Frankenstein and the Tradition of Realism," Novel, 7 (1973/74), 25.

32. Georg Lukacs, The Theory of the Novel (Cambridge: M.I.T. Press, 1971), p. 61.

33. "Prometheus Unbound," Shelley: Poetical Works (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967), p. 205.

34. "Prometheus Unbound," line 628.