Contents Index

I wept like a child

Victor's account of himself in these paragraphs testifies to a person on the brink of becoming unhinged -- almost paralyzed, needing two days at Lausanne to recover a sense of purpose, invoking his native landscape in effusive tears. Such immature behavior could be a sign of the fears he has repressed for a year and a half, and certainly for the reader their emotional heightening portends some new disaster about to reveal itself. At the same time, if we wish to assume that this is a novel with pretentions to being realistic, and not merely gothic in its representation, we might wish here to turn our attention from the ominous to the psychological. These are all symptoms of a personality that has barely survived its breakdown. The year of convalesence has offered tranquillity, but does not appear to have altered the essential trauma Victor has suffered in the Creature's birth. Throughout the rest of the novel, Mary Shelley adroitly poises her protagonist on the edge of madness, and the readers of his behavior (a class that should include Walton as well as us) can never be quite sure on what side of the line he stands.