Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

“I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.”     

― Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, Frankenstein

In the 200th anniversary year of Mary Shelley’s gothic novel we are able to peel back the layers of the block-headed, hideous monster and get down to Mary Shelley’s original concern: what is the relationship between the created and the creator?

Edward Mendelson offers: “Frankenstein is the story of childbirth as it would be if it had been invented by someone who wanted power more than love.” The story draws the reader into the entangled and unlimited relationship between the Creature and its creator as we move through narrators to get to the frozen final confrontation. The book raises philosophical questions around ambition and creation: if we are able to scientifically create life, should we employ that knowledge? What are the responsibilities of the creator to the created?

I recommend the Norton Critical Edition as this edition includes Mary Shelley’s original 1818 edition with extensive commentary including a consideration of why the 1831 edition that Percy Bysshe Shelley heavily edited has been more popular but the earlier edition is the better- and bolder- work. Contained in that publication story is an artifact of the struggles women faced publishing.


  • Three-meeting study
  • Recommended edition: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley, Norton Critical Edition 2E (Norton Critical Editions 2012); ISBN-13: 978-0393927931

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Posted on

January 19, 2018