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Frankenstein: The Horrifying Otherness of Family

Jean Hall

Essays in Literature, 17 (1990), 179-89

[{179}]Frankenstein often has been read as Mary Shelley's critique of Romantic Prometheanism, a fable that anatomizes the fatal, overreaching pride of the egotistical male creator and idealist -- a figure very Like a Romantic poet.1 And many of the novel's readers have gone on to point out that Frankenstein implicitly comments on the intense idealism of Shelley's husband, Percy Bysshe Shelley.2 Anne Mellor recently has argued that Mary Shelley is a feminist whose novels reject the individualistic notion of the self-sufficient creator in preference for a view "of the bourgeois family as ideally egalitarian." However, Mellor identifies a "profound contradiction" in this Shelleyan idealization, "For the bourgeois family is founded on the legitimate possession and exploitation of property and on an ideology of domination -- whether of the male gender over the female or of parents over children -- that render it innately hierarchical." This discrepancy between the idealization and the reality of family relations creates "the fundamental tension in Mary Shelley's writing."3

In Mellor's view it is the economic and social ramifications of the bourgeois family -- not the "ideally egalitarian" notion of familial relationship itself -- which creates tension in Mary Shelley's vision. While I believe Mellor's analysis has a great deal to be said for it, in this essay I want to pursue a rather different line. I suggest that Frankenstein is not a feminist work but a woman's nightmare -- a vision of familial egalitarian relationship gone bad, mysteriously turning from a benevolent principle into a perverse one.

The perversion of relationship envisioned by Mary Shelley can be usefully described as a perversion of feminine identity, as portrayed in Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Woman's Development. Gilligan proposes that masculine identity generally centers on the maturing self's separation and individuation and produces an ethic of rights, whereas the feminine approach to identity generally ties the self's evolving interdependence to others and produces an ethic of care. Men tend to think autonomously, in terms of the just self, whereas women tend to think relationally, in terms of the committed self.4 In Frankenstein, Gilligan's proposed feminine perspective on individuation is supported by {180} Mary Shelley's idealization of the bourgeois family, but also nightmarishly subverted when attitudes of caring and nurturing are transformed into acts of compulsive destruction.

For Mary Shelley, the woman's proper place should be at the emotional center of the family, developing the relational bonds that create human identity not as a manifestation of Promethean individualism but as an invariably benevolent, collective presence. To step forward, to express the sole self, becomes an arrogant act which may carry terrible consequences. Her criticism of Romantic Prometheanism is hardly disinterested; it is perhaps hyperbolic and distorted, for Mary Shelley both fears and is fascinated by the self-assertion which she condemns. Shelley's vision of the ideal family recognizes only benevolence and concord, the utter success of relationship; serious differences between individuals, anger, and destructive emotion cannot be admitted. Consequently, her view of relationship becomes polarized. On the one hand, there are the good and loving families of Frankenstein, the Frankensteins and the De Laceys, on the other, there is Frankenstein's monster -- the hideous outcast, the being forever set beyond the pale of human relationship. This monster becomes the horrifying Otherness of family.

The minute he is animated, Mary Shelley's monster is repellent because he is the nightmare image of perverse relationship, of relationship that comes into being as a function of solitary, illegitimate self-assertion. When the creator forsakes the family and isolates himself to produce his visions as Victor Frankenstein has done, his fitting punishment shall be the inversion of his conscious intentions, a hideous involuntarism which forms the hyperbolic counterpart to his own arrogant willing. Where the cast of human relationship in Frankenstein is benevolent, the abnormal relation of creature and creator inevitably is malignant -- the embrace of human love is converted into strangling. Referring to Frankenstein's fiancee Elizabeth the monster tells him "I will be with you on your wedding night,"5 and he indeed does become related to Frankenstein by taking the groom's place in the bridal bed and throttling his beloved. As Frankenstein muses, "I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind, and endowed with the will and power to effect purposes of horror . . . nearly in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit let loose from the grave, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me" (77). Consciously relating to his family in love, Frankenstein nonetheless effects their destruction through the agency of his creature. He is right when he confesses to his father in a delirium that those he loved "all died by my hands" (185). Mary Shelley nightmare is of an undesired and yet unavoidable entanglement, a destructive relationship that invades and compromises the consciously benevolent identity of her novel's hero. Frankenstein's act of Promethean creation breaches the boundaries of the benevolent family, opening it to the currents of rage and destruction. He dies because his creature invades the family, and taking Frankenstein's place, reverses all his proper family relationships. By killing the family rather than loving them, the monster finds the profoundest way to destroy Frankenstein himself.

The creature's appearance is of extraordinary ugliness. He is a {181} patched-together form with "yellow skin" and "watery eyes," a "shrivelled complexion and straight black lips" (57). Of "gigantic stature" (76), the monster is far larger and stronger than any of the men in the novel. This brutal, hypermasculine presence becomes the image of the murderer. The nightmare of aggression assumes an exaggerated male form which becomes the suppressed manifestation of desire and the image of the totally alien, and this suggests that Mary Shelley's vision of aggression indeed is a nightmare distortion. Irritation, anger, and forcefulness cannot appear in merely human forms or with moderated intensity. Instead, love must be reserved as the property of the human, whereas destructive passion erupts as an alienation.

But if at some times the monster is the image of the alien in Frankenstein, at others he becomes the central image of the human. For his hideous body is inhabited by an innocent and unformed soul, and this creation-as-child longs to acquire an identity, to grow up to become a rightful member of the human family. However, significant anxiety about the family's naturalness is suggested in Frankenstein by the presence of many orphans. Frankenstein's mother Caroline Beaufort is a beautiful woman who finds herself left "an orphan and a beggar" (32), and the same phrase is applied to Frankenstein's fiancee Elizabeth Lavenza (35), who as a child was brought home by Frankenstein's father and taken into the family. The Frankensteins' maid Justine Moritz is rejected by her mother, and the De Lacey children have a father but no mother. Safie, Frederick De Lacey's love, has lost her mother and also suffered from the machinations of her tyrannical Turkish father. Many families are disrupted in Frankenstein, and so the monster's status as orphan is by no means an anomaly. Just as the other dislocated people in the novel try to establish their identities by affiliating themselves with families, so the solitary monster immediately conceives of the problem of his identity as a problem of relationships: "where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses. . . . I had never yet seen a being resembling me, or who claimed any intercourse with me. What was I?" He lacks "all the various relationships which bind one human being to another in mutual bonds" (121).

To achieve a human identity the monster must become part of a network of relationships, but it is precisely this affiliation which is impossible, for every person who sees him immediately feels overwhelming aversion. As the creature tells it, the first time he ventured into a village "I had hardly placed my foot within the door before the children shrieked, and one of the women fainted. The whole village was roused; some fled, some attacked me, until, grievously bruised by stones and many other kinds of missile weapons, I escaped into the open country" (106). The monster's closest approach to human contact is his residence with the De Laceys, in which he enacts a sort of non-reciprocal relationship with the family. Hidden in their hut, he observes their life and comes to feel their sufferings and joys, and to love them. The De Laceys exert a considerable humanizing effect on the monster, but his development is shockingly arrested when Frederick De Lacey sees the creature kneeling in reverence before his old {182} blind father and transfixed by this monstrous scene, acts monstrously himself. As the creature recounts it, Frederick "darted forward, and with supernatural force tore me from his father, to whose knees I clung: in a transport of fury, he dashed me to the ground and struck me violently with a stick" (135). Frederick, whom the monster hitherto considered one of the "gentle beings" (110), has reacted to this perceived threat to his father with hyperbolic violence, and everywhere he turns, Frankenstein's creature finds the human family behaving in this way. Something in the monster seems to bring out the monstrousness of humanity; otherwise loving and benevolent, when people are touched by the creature they are invaded by malignity. In short, the monster affects other people in the same way he affects Frankenstein: he is a strange touchstone, an alien presence that invades people and perverts their identity. It is not surprising, then, that no one wants a relationship with him. Somehow, he embodies the mysterious force that disintegrates rather than builds the human family -- and so he must be resolutely outcast. The monster becomes the scapegoat, the being to whom all relationship must be denied.

Mary Shelley's effective account of the monster's involuntary solitude betrays doubts about the efficacy of relationship. In the figure of the monster we perceive the orphaned self, the deformed outcast, who aspires to normal relationship but forever must remain beyond the pale because through no fault of his own he is not acceptably human. Mary Shelley believes in relationship and deeply desires it, but she writes a fable that touches on the profound anxiety that the self inexplicably may not be worthy of others, that relationship perhaps can be extended only to those deserving people who naturally fall within its orbit.

Barred from human contact as Milton's Satan is barred from God, the monster eventually takes on a Satanic cast. He is well prepared for the part; since an important element in his education was reading a copy of Paradise Lost that he found in the woods near the De Lacey cottage. Beginning as Adam but failing to become humanized by relationship, he at last becomes identified with Satan, as he himself explains to Frankenstein: "Like Adam I was apparently united by no link to any other being in existence," but "He had come forth from the hands of God a perfect creature, happy and prosperous, guarded by the especial care of his Creator" whereas "I was wretched, helpless, and alone. Many times I considered Satan as the fitter emblem of my condition" (129). As the novel proceeds to its conclusion through a series of the monster's destructions, the sympathy we initially feel for the solitary creature gradually is lost. His powers of eloquence which are so moving during his relation of his first formative experiences finally become Satanic: the monster becomes a great orator, an insidious persuader, and Frankenstein must warn Captain Walton not to be seduced by the creature's smooth words.6

By mapping the monster's degeneration from innocent Adamic orphan to unruly, Satanic being, Mary Shelley shows how the world of relationship alternatively can be founded on benevolence or upon hatred. The family may help the child to grow up into a loving human being, or can turn him into a budding tyrant, a creature who founds his existence upon the struggle {183} to achieve control over others.7 Instead of taking his place within a harmonious family, the forsaken monster finds himself deserted by Frankenstein, his father-creator; and to make a relationship in a world that everywhere bars him from human ties he forces his father to relate to him in hatred. Love having failed the creature, he sees that anger will suffice, for, if it is an inversion of the feeling he desires, at least it is an emotion capable of founding relationship. By killing the family, the monster removes Frankenstein from his natural relationships and compels him to join a family of two -- a family of isolates sharing a dreadful secret that lies beyond the human pale. As the monster tells Frankenstein, "Remember that I have power; you believe yourself miserable, but I can make you so wretched that the light of day will be hateful to you. You are my creator, but I am your master -- obey!" (167). The relationship of master and slave, an association based on power, becomes the perverse alternative to harmonious parent-child relations in Frankenstein.

The monster's attempt to master his creator succeeds all too well, for as his family is murdered Frankenstein's soul changes. A loving son and brother during his family's existence, he now becomes a solitary obsessed by revenge -- hatred has replaced benevolence as his mainspring. He proclaims revenge to be "the devouring and only passion of my soul" (200). As he relentlessly pursues the monster in a nightmare of relationship, the obsessed Frankenstein claims that "During the day I was sustained and inspirited by the hope of night; for in sleep I saw my friends, my wife, and my beloved country" (204). The novel's narrator, Captain Walton, adds that Frankenstein "enjoys one comfort, the offspring of solitude and delirium: he believes, that, when in dreams he holds converse with his friends, and derives from that communion consolation for his miseries . . . that they are not the creations of his fancy, but the beings themselves who visit him from the regions of a remote world" (210).

In this way Frankenstein places his dead family in a transcendental realm, aspiring from his present hell of debased relationship and ruined identity to a lost, harmonious time when he was surrounded by a loving family. Significantly, Mary Shelley represents family relationship as the ungraspable ideal, the condition that would ground Frankenstein's identity as a benevolent and self-possessed self. Deprived of human ties he can found his selfhood only on the principle of revenge, which is not really a form of self-assertion but rather a corrupted version of relationship. At turns benevolent or perverse, Frankenstein always operates upon the same assumptions, for, like his own monster, he continually sees his identity as a function of his relationships.

Walton notes of the dying Frankenstein that "his eloquence is forcible and touching. . . . What a glorious creature must he have been in the days of his prosperity, when he is thus noble and godlike in his ruin! He seems to feel his own worth, and the greatness of his fall" (210). Frankenstein himself claims that "like the archangel who aspired to omnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell" (211). Finally Frankenstein shares the Satanic identity of his monstrous creature, but in his dying moments he experiences a kind of purification. Now he no longer feels "that burning hatred, and {184} ardent desire of revenge, I once expressed." His utter exhaustion purges him of turbulent emotion and he feels himself to be "only induced by reason and virtue," freed of "selfishness and vicious emotions" (217). What death brings Frankenstein is the restoration of his rational and benevolent identity, the extinction of those invasive waves of "burning hatred" and "vicious emotions" which had polluted his character.

And indeed, in reviewing what I have suggested about Mary Shelley's attitudes toward relationship, there is much that Frankenstein needs to purge. Shelley's novel is committed to the affirmation of human relationship as creator of the individual's identity, but at the same time its nightmare perspective raises the horror of involuntary aggression against others, the perverse and terrifying need to strangle as well as to embrace. In this novel salvation is to be found in the idealized benevolence and naturalness of the family, and yet Frankenstein's monster is only the most pronounced case of a pervasive outcast state that suggests the inherent unworthiness of the individual -- an inexplicable unworthiness which threatens to bar him or her from the human community.

Frankenstein projects two polarized visions of relationship: relationship as idealized by the benevolent family, whose structure naturally supports the individual and grounds his or her identity, and relationship as entanglement, invasion, inexplicable perversity that disintegrates the benevolent self. By turns Mary Shelley welcomes the ties that bind, or abhors them. While I would not want to deny the power of her critique of Romantic Prometheanism, it is well to remember that it is made by a woman who thinks of human affairs in terms of relationship.

In fact, relational thinking so permeates Frankenstein that it can be argued that the men in the novel are less Promethean questers than they are family-oriented beings. In Carol Gilligan's terms, one could say that Mary Shelley has feminized the processes of masculine individuation; for while her men at times proclaim their rights and attempt to assert their individual selves, more often than not this option seems terrifying, because it invariably violates the sacred relational bonds of family. Victor Frankenstein's Promethean creativity is viewed as a species of fatherhood and the monster's relation to him becomes that of child to parent, feminizing the process of the individual's artistic endeavor into a family affair. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar quite plausibly argue that Frankenstein is a feminized revision of Paradise Lost, which maps "the fearful tale of a female fall from a lost paradise of art, speech, and autonomy into a hell of sexuality, silence, and filthy materiality," and furthermore, that although women are not among the novel's protagonists, "for Mary Shelley the part of Eve is all the parts."8 Ellen Moers remarks that the tradition of female Gothic available to Mary Shelley was Ann Radcliffe's novels, "in which the central figure is a young woman who is simultaneously persecuted victim and courageous heroine," and that Frankenstein alters this pattern by creating male central figures who, however, enact suppressed feminine roles. Frankenstein becomes "a birth myth," a "fantasy of the newborn as at once monstrous agent of destruction and piteous victim of parental abandonment."9

{185} These critics suggest that the male protagonists of Frankenstein function as overt representatives for a feminine sub text or hidden agenda and that this masking procedure allows Mary Shelley to express misgivings about aspects of feminine roles. Ambivalence concerning such subjects as childbirth, the mother's nurture of the child, and the woman's anchoring role as center of benevolent family relations, can be conceptualized only by displacing such elements onto men, who become Mary Shelley's scapegoats. The strength of the repressions in Frankenstein explains the novel's hyperbole: the biological revulsion embodied in Frankenstein's "workshop of filthy creation" (55) and his terrifyingly ugly, fleshly monster, and the hypermasculine rage and physical aggressiveness displayed by the huge creature in his worst moments of alienation. Men as Outsiders enact the perversion of benevolent relationship, and suffer the consequences of these dreadful actions. This displacement preserves not only the idealization of the bourgeois family, but also the purity of the feminine.

If Mary Shelley can articulate her concerns only indirectly, through male spokesmen, it might also be expected that her attitude toward authorship would involve a process of indirection. And indeed, her 1831 Introduction, written fifteen years after the novel's creation, begins by portraying her as a distinctly reluctant author rather than a Promethean one. She remarks that in her girlhood she "wrote -- but in a most commonplace style." Where she was not commonplace was in her unexpressed fantasies, "my true compositions, the airy flights of my imagination," daydreams which did not involve herself as the "heroine of my tales" because "Life appeared to me too commonplace an affair as regarded myself." Her fantasies were liberating precisely because they involved self-displacement: "I was not confined to my own identity, and I could people the hours with creations far more interesting to me at that age, than my own sensations" (6).

It is to be remarked that the reveries of such Promethean Romantic poets as Percy Shelley and Byron can involve the transformation of first-person lyrical reverie into written poetry. In contrast, Mary Shelley declines to become the heroine of her reveries and prefers to let her dreaming remain private and unactualized, an uncreated phenomenon not subject to the world's observation. This suggests that she feels herself to be free only in privacy, not in relationship to others. To become an author is to predicate public relationships, and perhaps Mary Shelley was wary of this because it became yet another role, another duty, which she was called upon to perform. The individual creator's right and delight in self-expression is not really a part of Mary Shelley's experience.

Indeed, she hints that her relationship to her novel resembles Frankenstein's to his monster: both the author and her hero would like to disavow the public consequences of their experimentation. She calls Frankenstein her "hideous progeny" (10), the botched birth of her own imagination. Her Introduction attempts to sever the relationship between Mary Shelley the person and the author of Frankenstein, arguing that creator and creation are obviously dissimilar: "How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon so very hideous an idea?" The gap between {186} young girl and hideous idea is repeated in Mary Shelley's narrative present for her "account will only appear as an appendage to a former production and as it will be confined to such topics as have connection with my authorship alone, I can scarcely accuse myself of a personal intrusion" (5). Mary Shelley's novel, which exists in the public domain, has no connection with her private identity -- or at best, her Introduction portrays the relationship merely as a storyteller's desire to evoke the traditional emotions of terror associated with the Gothic novel: "I busied myself to think of a story. . . . One which would speak to the mysterious fears of our nature and awaken thrilling horror -- one to make the reader dread to look round to curdle the blood, and quicken the beatings of the heart" (8). The emotional relationship between the creator and her creation is reduced to a matter of convention, "fears" impersonally shared by everyone. Such feeling remains conveniently "mysterious," floating in a Gothic limbo where it may be savored for itself alone rather than related to any significant context.

The Introduction to Frankenstein betrays Mary Shelley's deep discomfort with the public role of author. She disparagingly remarks that "As a child I scribbled" (5), but that she wrote "in a most commonplace style" (6) After she married Percy Shelley, "He was for ever inciting me to obtain literary reputation," but she was busy with family cares, "and study, in the way of reading, or improving my ideas in communication with his far more cultivated mind, was all of literary employment that engaged my attention" (6). When Percy Shelley, Byron, and Polidori agreed to write ghost stories in the summer of 1816, they included Mary Shelley in the group. Seemingly she enjoyed the "conversations between Lord Byron and Shelley, to which I was a devout but nearly silent listener" (8); but when called upon to produce a story she experienced extreme anxiety: "I felt that blank incapability of invention which is the greatest misery of authorship, when dull Nothing replies to our anxious invocations. Have you thought of a story? I was asked each morning, and each morning I was forced to reply with a mortifying negative" (8)

It would appear that Mary Shelley conceived of authorship primarily as a relationship with other people -- not as the individual's act of creation or self-expression -- and that she was so oppressed by thoughts of others' expectations about her performance that she found it difficult to write at all. Her productions seemed to her vitiated, "commonplace," and she felt a "blank incapability of invention." Becoming a "devout but nearly silent listener," relating to Percy Shelley and Byron as audience rather than as a contributor to the discussion, was the role most comfortable for her. But one night the idea for Frankenstein came to her inexplicably: "My imagination, unbidden, possessed and guided me, gifting the successive images that arose in my mind with a vividness far beyond the usual bounds of reverie" (9). She envisioned Frankenstein's creation of his hideous monster, an unholy scene of animation that effected the vivification of her own empty and incapable imagination. Thereafter she was able to write. But what she wrote was a hyperbolic reversal of blank incapacity, a horrible story that seemed to have no relationship to the "young girl" who authored {187} it. Frankenstein is a tale in which benevolence inexplicably is reversed to hatred, and it was written by a woman who could only involuntarily become an author. Mary Shelley's unbidden imagination brings alive a fable that seemingly has no relationship to her personal self, so that she scarcely can accuse herself of being a Promethean author.

An 1838 entry from Mary Shelley's journal again severs the relationship between public roles and personal identity, as she justifies to herself what she sees as her failure to come forward and support liberal political causes. Her father William Godwin and her husband Percy Shelley were outspoken, "But Shelley died, and I was alone" -- and she simply finds it impossible to take a stand by herself. "Alone and poor, I could only be something by joining a party, and there was much in me -- the woman's love of looking up, and being guided, and being willing to do anything if any one supported and brought me forward -- which would have made me a good partisan."10 Here Mary Shelley seems to envision a sort of group outspokenness, a suggestion that as a woman she could take significant stands as long as she did so supported within the structure of family relationship. Perhaps the benevolent family could speak out as a corporate entity, but the isolated individual herself does not have the power. Like Frankenstein's monster, she is too "alone."

Anne Mellor has emphasized Mary Shelley's advocacy of the bourgeois family, and Mary Poovey has made a strong case for her accommodation to the ideal of feminine propriety."11 These strains blend together in an ideology of the proper wife and mother, an idealization that must have held tremendous appeal for Mary Shelley, a person whose mother died at her birth and whose family life, both as child and as wife, never was secure.12 Mary Shelley's personal situation, which led her to feel "alone" and an orphan even though she actually was not, certainly must have created a need for the ideology of family relationship. Eli Zaretsky sees such an ideology as forming in Mary Shelley's England, in response to the political and social changes of the time. "The family became the major sphere of society in which the individual could be foremost. . . . Within it, a new sphere of social activity began to take shape: personal life. The nineteenth century Victorian ideology of the family as the repository of human values converged with the tradition of romantic revolt. The proletariat itself came to share the bourgeois ideal of the family as a utopian retreat."13

In her advocacy of the family ideal, which locates all naturally proper and benevolent feeling within the charmed circle of familial relationship and relegates everything chaotic, threatening, self-assertive, or manmade to the Outside, Mary Shelley seems representative of her times. She portrays her monster as a tremendous artificial creation, but the irony of Frankenstein is that Mary Shelley's benevolent families are equally works of artifice. In an additional great irony, the woman who wrote an immensely suggestive fable of relationship declined to consider the connection between who she was and what she had done. Her 1831 Introduction to Frankenstein implies a distinction between personal identity and public writing, placing authorship Outside the family in an alienated space shared by Victor {188} Frankenstein and his monster. The benevolent self and its horrible imaginings -- the private person and her hideous literary progeny -- remain alienated, deliberately unrelated, in Mary Shelley's practice.


1. Some good studies include Anne K. Mellor, Mary Shelley: Her Life, Her Fiction, Her Monsters (New York: Methuen, 1988), Chapter 4, "Promethean Politics"; Paul A. Cantor, Creature and Creator: Myth-Making and English Romanticism (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984), Chapter 4, "The Nightmare of Romantic Idealism"; Mary Poovey, The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 1984), Chapter 4, "'My Hideous Progeny': The Lady and the Monster"; Harold Bloom, "Frankenstein, or the New Prometheus," Partisan Review 32 (1965): 611-18, rpt. in The Ringers in the Tower (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1971); and M. K. Joseph, Introduction to the 1831 edition of Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (New York: Oxford UP, 1969, rpt. 1984).

2. For biographical comparisons, see Christopher Small, Ariel Like a Harpy: Shelley, Mary and Frankenstein (London: Gollancz, 1972), and Richard Holmes, Shelley -- The Pursuit (New York: Dutton, 1975) 331-32. For a view of the relationship of Mary and Percy; Shelley's lives and writings as contributing to Mary Shelley's vision of androgyny, see William Veeder, Mary Shelley & Frankenstein: The Fate of Androgyny (Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 1986). For a view of Mary Shelley's novel as criticizing Percy Shelley's idealism especially as expressed in Alastor, see especially Margaret Homans's provocative analysis in Bearing the Word -- Language and Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women's Writing (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1986), Chapter 5, "Bearing Demons: Frankenstein a Circumvention of the Maternal." Also see Robert Kiely, The Romantic Novel in England (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1972), Chapter 8, "Frankenstein"; and P. D. Fleck, "Mary Shelley's Notes to Shelley's Poems and Frankenstein," Studies in Romanticism 6 (1967): 226-54.

3. Mellor xii. Although Mellor argues that Mary Shelley was a feminist, she narrows that claim as follows: "In terms of modern political theory, Mary Shelley was a feminist in the sense that her mother was, in that she advocated an egalitarian marriage and the education of women. But insofar as she endorsed the continued reproduction of the bourgeois family, her feminism is qualified by the ways in which her affirmation of the bourgeois family entails an acceptance of its intrinsic hierarchy" (217). Both Mellor and I believe that Kate Ellis goes too far by construing Mary Shelley's unease with the bourgeois family as a deliberate, feminist attack on the institution. See Ellis's "Monsters in the Garden: Mary Shelley and the Bourgeois Family," in George Levine and U. C. Knoepflmacher, eds., The Endurance of Frankenstein: Essays on Mary Shelley's Novel (Berkeley: U of California P, 1979) 123-43.

4. Carol Gilligan, In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1982).

5. All references to Frankenstein and the 1831 Introduction to the novel are from the M. K. Joseph edition (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969, rpt. 1984).

6. For a Lacanian analysis of the monster's eloquence, see Peter Brooks's "'Godlike Science/Unhallowed Arts': Language, Nature, and Monstrosity" in Levine and Knoepflmacher 205-20.

7. For an analysis of Mary Shelley's views on childhood and education, see Mellor, Chapter 2, "Making a Monster."

8. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination (New Haven: Yale UP 1979) 227, 230. The chapter on Shelley is titled "Horror's Twin: Mary Shelley's Monstrous Eve."

9. Ellen Moers, Literary Women (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1976; rpt. Oxford UP 1985) 91, 97. For her reading of Frankenstein, see Moers's chapter "Female Gothic."

10. Mary Shelley's Journal, ed. Frederick L. Jones (Norman: U of Oklahoma P, 1947) 205-06.

11. Mary Poovey, The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1984). For Frankenstein, see Chapter 4, "'My Hideous Progeny': The Lady and the Monster"; for Shelley's later work, see Chapter 5, "'Ideal and Almost Unnatural Perfection': Revising Mary Shelley."

12. For an excellent account of Mary Shelley's family insecurities, see Mellor, Chapter 1, "In Search of a Family."

13. Eli Zaretsky, Capitalism, The Family, and Personal Life. Revised and Expanded Edition (New York: Harper, 1986) 44-45. For Mary Shelley's historical period, see especially Chapter 3, "Capitalism and the Family."