Contents Index

the events

That Mary Sheley principally wrote Frankenstein, and certainly its third volume, while living in Marlow, near Windsor and not far from Oxford, might logically have suggested to her the value of inserting its local scenery and history into her novel. More pointedly, her own tribute to her father, in dedicating her novel to Godwin, would have been underscored by her including scenes associated with his most recent novel Mandeville, centered on the English civil war in the mid-seventeenth century. For this politically-minded group of writers (Godwin, Mary Shelley, P. B. Shelley), the civil war had been, first and foremost, a conflict of ideologies pitting aristocratic against republican values. Although a century and a half past, its political resonanace was far from muted in a reactionary political climate like England's during the Regency. Thus, the political undertones of this choice of scenery on Mary Shelley's part are unlikely to have been in any sense innocent.

That said, there is another salient reason for the British setting of the earlier chapters of Volume 3, which is the simple fact that the novel is designed for an English-reading audience rather unaccustomed during the years of the Napoleonic Wars either themselves to travel abroad or to respond with much interest to a continental setting as sweeping as that embraced by the first two volumes. In its final volume Frankenstein goes rather out of its way, as if designed according to formula, to embrace all three parts of the United Kingdom.