Contents Index

the progress of European colonisation

Scholars have debated how to construe this addition to the 1831 text of the novel. Given Clerval's seeming representation as a Shelleyan ideal, his desire to attach himself to the imperialist designs of Europe upon Asia would appear to have Mary Shelley's endorsement. And it should be said that this early in the growth of the British empire -- long before the Afghan Wars (1839-42) and the Indian Mutiny (1857-59) -- when the liberal-minded Sir William Bentinck was Governor-General (1828-35), the British saw their influence in the Indian subcontinent as morally benign. Still, the extent to which the imperial "native" is debased within this system has its corollary in the rejection of the Creature by Europeans wherever he encounters them. Likewise, earlier imperial projects are roundly condemned elsewhere in the novel: for instance, by Victor and by the Creature himself in his reaction to the reading of Volney's Ruins of Empires.