Contents Index

domestic affections

This phrase carries rich connotations in Mary Shelley's time. The Domestic Affections, for instance, is the title of the first mature volume of poetry by Felicia Hemans (1812), a volume in which she first laid claim to speak as the central female voice of the nineteenth-century bourgeoisie. The mythos of the enclosed domestic space presided over by the "Angel of the House" had a compelling power for the new order that came into place after the defeat of Napoleon. Quietly, in the first two chapters of this novel, Mary Shelley has inscribed it as a nurturing space for the growth of the Frankenstein children and even for their neighbor Henry Clerval. A similar enclosed circle animated by the "domestic affections" will form the nuclear center of the Creature's narrative in the second volume. Much critical literature has concentrated on these seeming ideals, some seeing a counter to the male Romantic quest, some questioning just how far Mary Shelley actually goes in endorsing them.