Contents Index

Frankenstein and the Alchemy of Creation and Evolution

The Wordsworth Circle, 8 (Spring 1977), 103-12

Irving H. Buchen

Civilizations cannot evolve further until the "occult" is taken for granted on the same level as atomic energy.
(Colin Wilson, The Occult [1971])
{103} There are periods in history when extremes become norms. Interest in the past is converted into a passionate preoccupation with the ancient. Speculation about what lies ahead is transformed into the discontinuity of the futuristic. When such contraries coexist with equal force and advocacy, the present appears alternately poised for intense regression or a quantum leap forward. The culture in turn strains to make sense of its historical crosscurrents. An inquiry about how it all began is inextricably entwined with how it all might end; and perfection and catastrophe appear as equally viable versions of each other. Such concerns with genesis and terminus often converge utopia and dystopia, a not inaccurate image of Frankenstein which emblems a hybrid mode that sacrifices the cathartic healing of tragedy for the cosmic insights of blasphemy. It is by no means accidental that in the process the occult comes to the surface to register the range and depth of fissure, for the occult is symptomatic of the absence of unity or the breaking of the circle. To be sure, occultism often is revived partly out of a desperate desire to replace the freedom of confusion with the clarity of external determinism; but it is also called upon genuinely to rediscover the essential forces of the universe and to bring harmony to endless multiplicity. In the process, advocates and detractors of the occult maneuver for historical positioning.

Devotees of the occult maintain that it was copresent with original creation and occupies an unbroken historical line from prerecorded periods in the past to an unfinished extent in the distant future. In other words, the sacred mysteries are eternal and occultism expresses the collective unconscious of the cosmos. Moreover, its longevity and its preoccupation with the secret of secrets throughout the ages argue for its universality and justify its claim to being granted a status equal with that of theoretical science. Above all, occultism brings to science what it lacks -- the structure of ritual -- and thus provides the religion and art of science. Opponents or skeptics freely acknowledge the ancient origins of the occult and further concede that then -- but only then -- did it in fact enjoy the status of science. But the black arts increasingly came to be opposed by virtually every major religion as spurious or heretical and as a result the occult was forced to become basically an underground or peripheral movement whose long history of sensational failures and scandalous deceptions required the obscuration of a number of generations before it could be resurrected with any credibility.

As a general statement of the claims and the counter-claims, the above is perhaps as accurate a summary of the prevailing attitudes toward the occult in Mary Shelley's time as today.1 But what is instructive is that such a formulation is totally rejected by Mary Shelley in at least three major ways. First, neither the occult nor science is favored by Mary Shelley. Through an elaborate series of polarizations she applies both the caress and the cudgel to both sides, and through the education of Victor Frankenstein takes the measure of both to indicate the essential elements each lacks. In other words, what is eminently clear in even a cursory survey is that the novel does not accept but seeks to go {104} beyond opposition as a final position. Second, Mary Shelley introduces the myth of Prometheus for a number of reasons,2 not the least of which is to impart to the alchemical dream of animating the inanimate the mythic dimensions of a creation story. Indeed, without myth, which enjoys the special facility for synthesis or transcendence, it is questionable whether Mary Shelley could in fact go beyond a mere statement of polarization. Third, Victor Frankenstein, like his younger counterpart, Robert Walton, the polar explorer, yearns rhapsodically for a metaphysical and religious relationship with the cosmos at a time when religion and science seem to be devoid of any such metaphysical reach or fire. Thus, for Victor Frankenstein, at least, alchemy fills a void of the soul; and whatever else he adds to or subtracts from it, what Mary Shelley seems to be suggesting is that the occult is resurrected periodically throughout history whenever the reigning ideologies become excessively inward-facing or earth-bound.3

Mary Shelley's attitude toward the occult thus seems to be neither one of endorsement nor condemnation, but rather of profound hesitation. To her the issue is not that the alchemists are right and the scientists wrong or vice versa. Indeed, to perceive the situation in these terms is to miss the key diagnostic pivot inherent in all conditions of historical crosscurrents. Rather, the conflict -- if it even can be called that -- resembles that of a tragic clinch: a conflict of rights. On its side, occultism is always presumptuously total and mythic in its scope. The obsession with unifying essences is at the heart of its three favorite pursuits: the philosopher's stone, the elixir vitae, and the animation of inanimate nature. Necromancers consistently have emulated the overreaching of Prometheus by delivering their own version of fire to humankind. In short, there is regularly about the occult a fanatical insistence that nothing less than essence will suffice -- an ideological absolutism that inevitably is challenging and potentially always blasphemous. On its side, science is gradual and cumulative. The goal of its precise methodologies is to produce results which are verifiable. Science assumes that the world is orderly and comprehensible; if it were not, there could be no science, and the world would have remained in the hands of primitives who celebrate mysteries. Thus, science grows by accretion -- piece by piece is meticulously put in place but, according to Frankenstein and at least one of his professors, with such myopia that few if any realize that the threshold for a quantum leap forward may have been reached. In short, the fire that science delivers has been tamed in stages to be manageable and utilizable but in the process it is never offered as the gift of God. Put another way, if Victor Frankenstein had perceived the conflict between the occult and science as one between right and wrong, he never would have been aware of the possibility that each possessed what the other lacked, and attempted to wed the visions of alchemy to the methodology of science. To be sure, throughout the novel the question often is raised as to whether that alliance is unholy and the results immoral. But the answer to that question involves the distinction of whether the dreadful results are the fault of the initial convergence of alchemy and science or more precisely that of the subsequent divergence of other contraries. And that answer is contingent on the recognition that the novel is really two novels.

What is reasonably clear, then, is that what Shelley sought to explore is not the opposition but the relationship between alchemy and science. That, in turn, was to be followed by an examination of the consequences of that relationship on and in human society. The novel thus has as its larger issue the relationship between myth and history -- between the nature of a cosmic creative force and a human evolutionary force. As a result, there are two major stories in the novel {105} not one. The first revolves around Victor Frankenstein and constitutes a creation story in which the stress is on the mythic fusion of alchemy and science and its imprint on human nature. The second centers around the being created and constitutes an evolutionary story in which the emphasis is on archetypes of human development. The presiding geniuses of the creation story are the alchemists, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, and Albertus Magnus, and the scientists, Newton, Davy, Galvani, and Erasmus Darwin; that of the evolutionary story, Locke, Rousseau, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Godwin.4

Structurally, Frankenstein is sustained by symmetry. It breaks down into two major tales; the first about Victor Frankenstein, the second about his creation. The last third of the novel, which as a whole structurally is at variance with the partitions dictated by the commercial triple-decker,5 brings the two main characters together but in a grim, machine-like acting out of revenge, retaliation, and pursuit. Each major tale in turn is tied to an appropriate subtale. Victor's story is blended and extended with that of Robert Walton, who by virtue of being engaged in a venture of intense self-absorption, is Victor's younger alter ego and preserves for the entire novel the redemptive virtue of a moral warning. The creature's tale significantly involves the fortunes of the DeLacey family who, as an image of the human family, provides the creature with a crucial model to emulate.

The common denominator that all the major and minor tales spin variations on is the hunger for completion. In the case of Victor and the creature, the parallel quest takes a destructive and revengeful direction: each one kills the mate of the other. Robert Walton hopefully will be spared such a fate by finding a friend like Henry Clerval or by marrying; and in spite of poverty, the young Felix DeLacey is finally reunited with his beloved Arabian fiancée. In any case, the marriage theme binds the novel to Coleridge's Ancient Mariner, especially the stress on the wedding guest and the terrors of polar isolation; as well as Milton's Paradise Lost and the concern of Adam to have an Eve. But the crucial yield of the structure is the extent to which the numerous dualities dramatize gulfs rather than bonds. Most dramatically, there is the structural gap between the two major stories which takes on a penultimate form in the permanent gulf between creature and creation as they are locked into what appears, because of the landscape, to be an eternal pursuit.

The unremitting dualistic structure of separation rests on a crucial philosophical assumption which Victor Frankenstein makes explicit in an early conversation with Robert Walton. Walton just has confessed his isolation and his passionate need for a friend. Victor acknowledges the desire and explains: "'we are all unfashioned creatures, but half made up. . .'"6 [Letter 4.7]. Like her husband, especially in Epipschychidion, Mary Shelley maintains that human beings, unlike Gods, are born incomplete. The need for another is in fact the expression of our humanity and compels us to search for our otherness, our twin, our soul mate. This of course is basic Platonic doctrine and as such could have been acquired directly or under the influence of Percy, as appears more likely. But the distinction of Mary Shelley and of her novel appears in the metaphysical and historical permutations of this notion of human incompletion, especially as it bears on the personality and education of Victor Frankenstein.

The first observation to make about Victor Frankenstein is that he already has what all the other characters yearn for. He already possesses a dear and close friend, Henry Clerval; and he is engaged to a woman he loves. What thus {106} becomes rapidly clear is that the condition of being unfinished can be satisfied in different ways and on different levels. In other words, there appears to be a hierarchy of completions possible. Robert Walton, Henry Clerval, Felix DeLacey, and even the creature have more basic sources of completion. Nor are they solely self-centered, for both Walton and Clerval have strong commitments to benefiting mankind. Ironically, in this context, the creature's hopes are the most modest and rustic. But Victor alone seeks a metaphysical fulfillment as well -- a mythic closure of Promethean proportions that takes precedence over the human and the historical. In other words, what is crucial to underscore is that to Victor alchemy is metaphysical science -- it, more than science, binds earth to the cosmos. Moreover, in its obsession with first causes and principles, alchemy alone provides Victor with the same pristine access to the beginnings and mysteries of things that are at the heart of his probings into the origins of his own soul. In short, alchemy is Victor's other half; it is the means by which he seeks to achieve both individual and cosmic completion. For all his devotions to Henry Clerval, his father, fiancée and family, once Victor becomes committed to the creation of an artificial person, he is so absorbed that he appears to need no one. It is not that they are unimportant but rather in his own hierarchy of completion they do not occupy the apex. In this connection, it is extremely significant that of the three classic alchemical goals, he chooses animation rather than that of turning base metals into gold or discovering the elixir of immortality. The philosopher's stone partakes of a certain kind of manipulative utility; and immortality is more quantitative extension. Only creation, not production or extension, evidently can provide Victor with the proper kind of otherness to simulate self-sufficiency or to serve as a substitute for more obviously human or historical fulfillments. In other words, from Victor's perception, creation alone, whatever its results and reception, is essentially focused on the creator, not the creature -- on what it offers Victor, not his creation.

To Mary Shelley, then, the appeal of the occult is not necessarily peculiar or exotic. To be sure, its language and ways may be strange, but it speaks to the basic human condition of incompletion, and provides for admittedly a few special individuals at special historical times the possibility of achieving cosmic wholeness -- a state of scientific mysticism. Such heady, Promethean states of consciousness do not preclude achieving human versions of completion on earth, although clearly they do compete with and endanger them. Indeed, the prospect of substitution is intensified when the hunger for the highest state of completion is supported by an historical situation that provides the match and scope for such presumption. It is the convergence of Victor's education with Zeitgeist that occupies Shelley's focus.

At no point in Victor Frankenstein's education does he ever totally endorse alchemy. Indeed, what Mary Shelley establishes is that with respect to the occult, science has taken over the role of scepticism previously performed by religion. Thus, although Victor's first introduction to the occult rapidly elicits his-father's strong disapproval, what already led to his disaffection was his scientifically-applied measure that the means called for to achieve noble visions were shabby and bordered on the hocus-pocus of magic. Specifically, what led him to these conclusions was ironically what would return him to alchemy -- his basic understanding of the principles of galvanism and electricity. This first exposure took on the form of a conflict of right and wrong; and science emerged as correct. The second encounter resembled the first, but here the clash was so outrageous that it dramatized the need for synthesis.

{107} At the University of Ingolstadt, Victor encounters two extreme positions: that of Professor Krempe who extols the virtues of science but ridicules the pretences of the alchemists; and that of Professor Waldman who extols the virtues of science but praises the visions of the alchemists. The situation is thus different. First, both Krempe and Waldman are scientists not alchemists. Second, Waldman praises alchemical visions but not their means. Third, Victor is being taught the basic methodologies of science, the means. In other words, what Victor gradually becomes aware of is a conflict of rights which is accompanied by the recognition that whereas science was analytical and basic it was not holistic and cosmic. The need to heal the split as well as the form it might take emerges in the decision Victor made for his project.

Victor elects from the three options the animation of inanimate matter. He then debates as to what kind of creation, and he decides to create a "human being." The decision to create neither some inferior creature nor some superior creature (his greater size was only a concession to the manipulation of microscopic and intricate parts) is crucial for an understanding of the nature of Victor's marriage of alchemy and science and of the particular historical condition of his day. Victor seeks not to replace but to bypass God. The aim is neither to set up a humbling experiment to create a robot nor an arrogant experiment to create a superman. Rather, by bypassing the natural for the alchemical-scientific and eliminating the role of a woman (or the other) in the creation of a new being, Victor Frankenstein is presiding over that crucial nineteenth-century transition from nature-induced to man-induced creation and evolution. Erasmus Darwin had sketched what Charles Darwin later would clinch: namely, that except for a few minor details human physical evolution essentially was complete; only a major and abrupt mutation could alter that, and even then it would require a number of generations to determine if the mutation took hold. In any case, what was emphasized was the realm of cultural and social evolution as the future direction of human history. Mary Shelley valued that latter future focus but approached it, as it were, from the front rather than from the back -- before rather than after the fact. Her perspective on evolution was not retroactive or reactive but creative. Specifically, through Victor Frankenstein, she sought to identify a seminal point in order to explore an intervention in the creative process that in turn would restart and make more available for examination the subsequent evolutionary process. But the point of her pivotal focus was not mere replay; there is no evidence to indicate that her work was to serve as a literary version of that of the Darwins. Rather, at the heart of her effort was the recognition that a turning point had been reached in the early nineteenth century, and that modern Prometheanism had as its rationale and new starting point the awareness that man no longer was to be perceived solely or primarily as an object of evolution. Science gradually had provided the means for a shift from object to subject but it had neither the will nor the vision to render the alchemical dream of creative intervention possible. Thus, Victor Frankenstein's fusion of alchemy and science produced a cosmic whole that on the one hand provided a metaphysical analogue to the basic condition of human incompletion; and that on the other signaled man's independence from Nature, an overreaching that found its counterpart only in Prometheus' defiance of the Gods. The moment the creature came to life, human history crossed a historical divide of mythical proportions.

In the process, that daring act of autonomy bypassed not only God, but also a human partner, a woman. In terms of the search for otherness, that substitution {108} in turn imparted to the entire adventure the potentially diabolical dimensions of self-creation in which Frankenstein appears as the father of himself. To be sure, it is this latter overreaching that leads to Victor's undoing, and to the creation of the second story of the novel. Significantly, there the alchemists and scientists dramatically are absent, a dispossession that ironically signifies their short-sightedness. Equally striking is the nearly total absence of maternal figures throughout the entire novel. Victor Frankenstein's mother dies at an early age; Elizabeth is an orphan; Clerval speaks only about his father; only the father is alive in the DeLacey family; and Robert Walton writes only to his sister. But perhaps the most sensational version of this motherless world appears shortly after Victor's recoil from the first sight of the yellow watery eye of the creature. Victor has a nightmare in which he kisses his betrothed only to have her features suddenly change with the hue of death. And then to his horror he finds himself holding in almost Poe-like fashion the decayed corpse of his dead mother in his arms. Whatever sexual or Oedipal elements may or may not be at work here, what is clear is that Victor is reacting to his own act of creation as one that dispossesses the woman-mother from the entire process. The dream is thus potentially prophetic and constitutes a warning which Victor ignores.

The eclipse of the woman-mother figure constitutes a historical sin of omission and stigmatizes Frankenstein's fusion of alchemy and science as having taken place in a historical vacuum. The original myth of creation was followed by the expulsion of Adam and Eve, but they were expelled into history and thus were given a future in duration. Not so Frankenstein's creature. In other words, although Mary Shelley never once questions Victor Frankenstein as creator, she severely underscores his post-creation failures. Basically, they are two. The first is Frankenstein's disgust for his creation. He imagined something glorious or obedient or transcendent. Instead, he created a creature with needs; that is, he created a creature who was like all human beings -- unfinished. Ironically, his success was greater than he realized. To be sure, the creature's enormous size prevented him from recognizing that he had created a child, dependent upon him for human development and even competing with him for attention. In other words, Victor's limitation derives from the conception that his initial creation was a final act. The creature was perceived to be a terminal creation -- an autonomous being -- and therefore absolved from a recurrent version of the doctrine of incompletion: children are not born but educated to be human.

The second failure grows out of the first but is turned ironically to bear on the Promethean stress on forethought. By failing to anticipate the consequences of his act, Victor Frankenstein unknowingly gave rise to the myth of creating a Frankenstein and thus summed up what is by now the classic dilemma of science: the unforeseen and unexamined consequences of certain kinds of scientific inquiry. Many examples could be cited, but the one that most resembles the problem Mary Shelley is concerned with and which of late has aroused considerable controversy and even prohibition is genetic experimentation, especially with DNA. That, like Frankenstein's experiment, represents the same preoccupation with an access point to intervene and to direct human evolution. Moreover, lest the failure to anticipate be lost through vague warnings, Mary Shelley documents in great detail the extent to which modern Prometheans fail to minister to their creations. In the process of creating a second creation story -- the evolution of creature into human being -- Mary Shelley supplies the maternal and feminist commitment lacking in the first-creation story.

Frankenstein's reaction notwithstanding, the monster at the moment of birth {109} is not a monster. This is no small distinction, for on it rests the entire thrust of the second story of the novel. Like many before and after her, Mary Shelley clearly was enthralled by the issue of what was the essential nature of human nature. What was innate and what was acquired? What was original with the original Adam? Was man basically good or evil, altruistic or self-serving? The dramatic difference of Mary Shelley's inquiry is its scientific framework. Her starting point is not some noble savage in a far-off country but an artificial person placed in a fictional laboratory in order to explore under controlled and observable conditions the development of a creature as an individual version of the human race.7 Moreover, her documentation of the step-by-step process whereby the furniture of the mind is built up and the tabula rasa is written upon is presented on the one hand with all the care of a clinical experiment and on the other hand with all the comprehensiveness of an archetypal model. In the process, Mary Shelley indicates that the creature -- indeed, all human beings and civilizations -- go through three major stages.

The first stage, although primarily instinctive and primitivistic, surprisingly involves an innate response to beauty (p. 99). But that aesthetic sensitivity is not matched by an equally innate desire for human companionship. Indeed, Mary Shelley scrupulously underscores the absence of the faculty of touch in this first stage. What emerges then is the limited evolution of a human animal who exists solely in the hermetic seal of his individuality within a natural, not a human, environment and whose emotions, except for occasional responses to beauteous "radiant forms" [2.3.3], are stillborn. The second stage features the DeLacey family whose emotionally-charged relations unlock those of the creature's. What Mary Shelley makes clear then is that human development is contingent on human example. The humanizing process, unlike the survival process of the first stage, is bilateral, not unilateral. The discovery of human speech and the written word are perceived by the creature as the aesthetic and even divine means by which emotions are shared and relationships are established. The final stage which elevates the humanizing process to the civilizing process begins with the appearance of Safie. What the creature discovers is that the only antidote to mortality is love, and the only salvation is the knowledge of "all the various relationships which bind one human being to another in mutual bonds" (p. 115). Pathetically acting on that hope, the creature seeks to effect precisely that relationship with the DeLacey family. When that effort fails, the creature is perilously poised between human being and monster.

Frankenstein did not create a human being; he created a being who had the potential to be human. Mary Shelley documents the realization of that potential at the hands of Nature and the DeLaceys and in the process establishes that the humanizing process itself is a bridging of two worlds -- that of Nature and instinct and that of human society and relationships. Only the fusion of both results in the creation of an individual who is dependent upon others for completion. Had the DeLacey family accepted the creature, the story would have taken the different and unmythic direction of raising an odd child-man. Or had the DeLacey family not even been available as an example, the creature would have sharpened his instincts and lived exclusively in the wilds occasionally preying on villages. But in either case he would have failed to have reached the point of being able not only to read Paradise Lost, but also to recognize the extent to which his creation diverged from that of Adam. Adam, although alone, at least was created perfect and had the attention of the superior being who created him (p. 124). But so deprived is the creature of a sense of paternity, family, and humanity that he feels for the first time in the novel a greater kinship with Satan than with {110} Adam. In the final analysis, then, the creature alone presents the most biting indictment of his creator. Moreover, at this point the creature has passed the point of no return. Only two avenues are open to him: to accept the identification of Satan and to become evil or to persuade Frankenstein to create a mate for him. The alternatives are suggestive: the absence of a mate creates the condition for the demonical.

At this juncture, what should be noted is what is generally overlooked: namely, Victor Frankenstein himself is not static but evolves also. Moreover, the direction and stage of that evolution counterpoint that of the creature to the point where the two increasingly become mirror images of each other. Indeed, tracing Frankenstein's development, paralleling sometimes obversely that of the creature, provides the most comprehensive and insightful touchstone for comprehending the latter part of the novel.

Victor Frankenstein's development up to and including the creation of the creature was singularly obsessive to the point, as noted, where he seemed to be a law and world unto himself. But his development after he leaves Inglostadt and returns to Geneva is characterized by a multiple series of compromises and an admixture of states of degradation and nobility. The first of these occurs after the death of William and Justine. A distinction has to be made here. Whereas he is indirectly responsible for the death of William, he is directly responsible for the death of Justine who is unjustly found guilty and killed for William's murder. His cries for pity are thus suspect, for by failing to speak out and confess what his hands have wrought he is guilty of complicity in the death of Justine. As a result there is a terrible symmetry: the creature is responsible for the death of William, Frankenstein is responsible for the death of Justine.

When the creature suddenly confronts Frankenstein and pleads with him to listen to his story, Frankenstein evidences a paternal attitude totally lacking earlier: "For the first time, also, I felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness" (p. 97). After Frankenstein hears the creature's tale, he concludes "that the justice due both to him and to my fellow creatures demanded of me that I should comply with his request" (p. 141). For the first time, Frankenstein confesses that justice exists on the side of his creation; and for the first time acknowledges that he also owes a debt to the well-being and safety of society. Moreover, he postpones marrying Elizabeth until he can complete the task of creating a mate to accompany the creature into exile, a recognition of the common needs each shares.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with Frankenstein's later decision not to create the mate, what is crucial to note is that all the reasons he provides are evidence of a kind of forethought that he failed to exercise before. He contemplates the prospect that the female is not bound by the oath the creature has sworn; she may come to hate the creature and desert him and wreak havoc on others; they might have children who in turn might refuse to remain in exile; etc. In short, the Promethean capacity makes him tremble for the future of mankind, and he destroys his second creation. At that moment, Frankenstein and his creation are locked in common destruction. The creature now calls Frankenstein his slave and claims that although he was his creator, the monster is now his master (p. 160). Having destroyed the monster's mate, the monster sets in motion the destruction of Clerval and finally Elizabeth. The final image of the novel is thus ironically substitutive, for locked in eternal pursuit, the two now serve as the mates of {111} each other, the two halves of a whole that shall never be united except in mutual annihilation.

A postscript -- mostly for Mary Shelley. Victor Frankenstein's creation is a dazzlingly brilliant accomplishment and at no point in the first part of the novel does Mary Shelley ever question the substance and significance of that singular achievement. Her final indictment -- if it even can be called that -- is not that Frankenstein presumed to be more than he should be, but that he did not presume enough -- he prematurely stopped short of being both male and female, scientist and humanist, godly and human. He healed one breach, but opened another. He bridged eternity and time with the myth of creation, but failed to bind eternity to history with the archetype of human development. Indirectly, Mary Shelley provided the model for those who in the future would aspire to be fledgling gods. Viewed another way, however, the limitations of Victor Frankenstein accent the comprehensiveness of Mary Shelley, for through her novelistic creation she alone spanned and ministered to the two spheres. In the process, she accepted the inevitable persistence of alchemical and scientific aspirations, but also recognized that until myth and history are joined, until the act of creation is matched by the process of humanization, the final result will be the dispossession of a human and holistic center by polar extremes, whether the drama unfolds on earth or in outer space.


1. In the May 29, 1976 issue of Science News, an article appeared on pseudoscience, parascience, and the establishment of a scientific group to analyze critically paranormal claims of occultists of various persuasions. The article itself together with the strong and extensive reader response generally proceeded along the conflict lines outlined here (see Science News, 109 [June 19, 1976], 397-98).

2. The mythic difference is stressed particularly by Harold Bloom "Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus" PR, 32 (1965), 611-18; and by Irving Massey The Gaping Pig: Literature and Metamorphosis (1976).

3. According to Robert Philmus, the aspirations of Victor Frankenstein are part of the general Faustian syndrome (Into the Unknown: The Evolution of Science Fiction from Francis Godwin to H. G. Wells [1970]).

4. To this latter list should be added Thomas Paine, according to M. A. Goldberg "Moral and Myth in Mrs. Shelley's Frankenstein," K-SJ, 8 (1959), 27-38.

5. Volume I ends with chapter 7 and the death of Justine, a premature point in that it does not include the remaining crucial elements of Victor's story; Volume II concludes with the promise to make a mate for the creature; and Volume III brings the tale to conclusion.

6. All page references are to the 1831 edition produced by Henry Colburn and Richard Bentley in a one-volume format, and now easily available in the New American Library edition (1965) with an "Afterword" by Harold Bloom. James Rieger recently reproduced the original 1818 text, which generally has been unavailable, along with a number of variant readings. Reiger's excellent effort pays particular attention to the extent and substance of Percy Shelley's contributions and concludes that his role was more important in the final preparation and production of the work than has heretofore been acknowledged. I have chosen to follow the 1831 edition for two reasons: first, it is the one that incorporates the later revisions of Mary Shelley, not Percy Shelley; and second, all the direct quotations I have used and all the passages I have found to be central, when checked against Rieger's edition, show no or little debt to Percy Shelley. In short, it is my judgment that the novel is essentially the work of Mary, not Percy, a notion that is confirmed when placed in the context of her other works (see esp. Charles E. Robinson, ed., Mary Shelley: Collected Tales and Stories [1976]). Finally, without indulging in psychoanalysis, I believe an understanding of Mary Shelley's biography and an analysis of her letters suggests that her indictments of Victor's failures as a paternal figure is not a very disguised reference to Percy, although obliquely it also may apply to Godwin.

7. A sensational case of arrested human development occurred in 1800 when Mary Shelley was herself a youth; and although it is not possible to claim direct knowledge, it is tempting to think that Mary Shelley may have read something of the matter and that in turn it influenced the second part of the novel. In 1800, Jean-Marc, a twenty-six-year-old French doctor was asked to treat a thirteen-year old boy who was found wandering naked in the forests in Aveyron. The boy could not speak, at times appeared deaf, would eat only nuts and potatoes, was indifferent to sympathetic attention, and was given to violent rages. The entire story recently has been compiled by Harlan Lane, The Wild Boy of Aveyron (1976).