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more creditable to cultivate the earth

Mary Shelley emphasizes the extent to which Elizabeth Lavenza not only has her feet on the ground, but with her keen eyes surveys its opportunities as well. If her horizons, in comparison with Victor's (or Walton's), seem limited by her expectations as a woman, the drift of this sentence would suggest that they are also insistently humane. On a biographical level the passage may reveal Mary Shelley's independent distrust of the legal profession brought on by the problems Percy encountered from his father's attorney as he attempted to secure the annuity promised him.