Contents Index

the living spirit of love

The sexist stereotypes in which this tribute is expressed can be (as they have been) laid at Mary Shelley's doorstep. But it is, after all, Victor who is speaking, and his monologue is telling the reader a great deal about him that he does not seem to realize. Since this is a technique by which fictional characterization is traditionally accomplished, perhaps the reader will want to hold him as a character fully responsible for his own sentiments. The Preface, we will remember, went out of its way to separate the author from her characters (Preface 2).

Leaving Victor's perspective to the side, we may, as readers, surely honor the affectionate warmth with which Elizabeth assumes her nurturing domestic role and melds her small community together. We might wish, however, to suspend judgment on its absolute value until later events can confirm that it profits her as much as it does those she so selflessly serves.