Prometheus: From Greek mythology, there are two major myths: 1) Prometheus as a titan who brings fire from heaven as a gift to humanity. He is punished by Zeus by being chained to a rock in the Caucasus and has his liver eaten by an eagle each day. 2) Prometheus, with Athene's consent, creates mankind in the likeness of gods. "He used clay and water of Panopeus in Phocia, and Athene breathed life into them" (Graves 34).
In a note to "Queen Mab" (1812-1815), Percy indicates that, "Prometheus is by no means a heroic figure. There he is blamed for bringing fire to mankind and thereby seducing the human race to the foul vice of meat-eating" (Wolf 1). Percy's view changed after the writing of Frankenstein to calling Prometheus "the type of the highest perfection of moral and intellectual nature" (P Shelley qtd. in Wolf 1).
The University of Ingolstadt (1472-1800), had a medical school and a chemistry lab, but was more famous for being the headquarters of the Illuminati, a masonic secret society founded by Adam Weishaupt in 1776. Victor attends in 1789. Because of the Illuminist society, this would have been a dangerous place to send a 17 year old son of a bourgeois family. For more, see: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~jlynch/Frank/V1notes/univers.html
scarlet fever: an acute childhood illness caused by a streptococcus infection. In the 1818 edition, Elizabeth has a mild form of the disease, in the 1831 edition, she has a severe case. "One suspects the change was intended to intensify the identification between Elizabeth and Mary Shelley who, we recall, was by her birth responsible for her mother's death" (Wolf 47).
in another world: "this idealized death contrasts sharply with the long and horrid dying of Mary Shelley's mother, Mary Wollstoncraft, who died of childbed complications ten days after Mary Shelley was born" (Wolf 48).
cf. Goethe, The Sorrows of Werter 102-8; Letter XXXVII.
chaise: a small, two-wheeled open carriage.
"old familiar faces": "The Old Familiar Faces" is a poem by Charles Lamb (1775-1834). See http://www.bartleby.com/106/220.html
long and fatiguing: the journey from Geneva to Ingolstadt is about 500 miles. It would have taken Victor about two weeks to arrive.
white steeple: the clock tower was actually red brick with white trim. Mary may have based her impression on black and white drawings.
repulsive countenance: Johann Kaspar Lavater's Speculations in Physiognomy was still in vogue. Thus Krempe's ugly appearance indicates a disorder with his soul.
two years: Victor is now 19.
cf. Sir H. Davy's Discourse, Introduction to a Course of Lectures on Chemistry (1802) 14-15. Davy was a poet and a scientist who was friends with Wordsworth, Coleridge, and Godwin.
William Harvey discovered in 1628 the circulation of the blood. In the 1770's Joseph Priestley published his Experiments and Observations on Different Kinds of Air, in which he identified the gas later named oxygen.
cf. William Godwin, Political Justice VIII.viii appendix; and Davy, Discourse 15-17.
cf. Davy, Discourse 10-11.
cf. Mary Wollstonecraft, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Chapter VI.
cf. William Godwin, Political Justice VIII.ix appendix; and Davy, Discourse 18-19.
charnel-houses: repositories for bones or corpses.
cf. William Wordsworth's "The Tables Turned: An Evening Scene on the Same Subject"
cf. Davy, Discourse 8.
cf. Percy Bysshe Shelley's Alastor: Or, the Spirit of Solitude.
cf. Davy, Discourse 5-6; and Erasmus Darwin, a friend of the Godwin family, The Temple of Nature IV.
cf. Erasmus Darwin, The Temple of Nature II.
cf. Davy, Discourse 9.
cf. Davy, Discourse 23.
cf. Davy, Discourse 24-26.
cf. Erasmus Darwin, The Economy of Vegetation II. 355-94.
the Arabian: reference to the fourth voyage of Sinbad in The Thousand and One Nights. Synopsis - Sinbad finds refuge with friendly king who gives him many gifts, including a beautiful wife. Sinbad later discovers the custom of the country requires that if one partner in a marriage dies, the other is buried alive with the deceased. Soon after this discovery Sinbad's wife dies and Sinbad is enclosed with her body in a cave. A spot of light appears and leads Sinbad out of the cave. See http://www.bartleby.com/16/605.html
informed of the secret: it seems rather unlikely that the self-educated sailor and failed poet, Walton, could even understand the scientific complexities of Victor's secret.
of a gigantic stature: one wonders how Victor found body parts to make his giant creature proportionate. "One may wonder too that it seems not to have occurred to Victor that an eight-foot-high being might not fit into the ordinary scheme of things" (Wolf 67).
ideal bounds: imagined limits
slaughter-house: this suggests that Victor may have used animal parts for his creation.
summer, passed: Victor is now 20.
from C.F. Volney, The Ruins: "As to the manner in which you have practised these morals, we appeal in our turn to the testimony of facts. We ask whether it is this evangelical meekness which has excited your interminable wars between your sects, your atrocious persecutions of pretended heretics, your crusades against Arianism, Manicheism, Protestantism, without speaking of your crusades against us, and of those sacrilegious associations, still subsisting, of men who take an oath to continue them?* We ask you whether it be gospel charity which has made you exterminate whole nations in America, to annihilate the empires of Mexico and Peru; which makes you continue to dispeople Africa and sell its inhabitants like cattle, notwithstanding your abolition of slavery; which makes you ravage India and usurp its dominions; and whether it be the same charity which, for three centuries past, has led you to harrass the habitations of the people of three continents, of whom the most prudent, the Chinese and Japanese, were constrained to drive you off, that they might escape your chains and recover their internal peace?" For the full text see: http://sailor.gutenberg.org/etext98/ruins10.txt
cf. Percy Shelley's poem The Wandering Jew (1810). Victorio, the Jew, encounters a demonic witch that has "black tumid lips-array'd / In livid fiendish smiles of joy."
nearly two years: Victor is almost 21.
Dante: Dante Alghieri (1265-1321) described
the ghastly tortures of the damned in The
Inferno, the opening book of his Divine Comedy. See http://www.bartleby.com/20/
The fact that Victor could not conceive of his reaction to the creature is somewhat perplexing.
with horror: the collapse of Elizabeth and Victor's mother give this dream a strong hint of incest, further strengthened by the blood-cousin relationship between Victor and Elizabeth in the 1818 edition. It is also notable that Mary Shelley's next novel, Matilda, deals directly with the theme of incest.
in a fit: Percy Shelley was prone to such fits possibly due to his use of laudanum. In fact, during the summer of 1816, Percy had a fit in reaction to Bryon's recitation of Coleridge's Christabel.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge's "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" lines 446-51
Dutch schoolmaster: reference to Chapter 20 of the Vicar of Wakefield (1766) by Oliver Goldsmith. The principal of Louvain university boasts: " 'You see me, young man, I never learned Greek, and I don't find that I have ever missed it. I have had a doctor's cap and gown without Greek; I have ten thousand florins a year without Greek; I eat heartily without Greek; and, in short,' continued he, 'as I don't know Greek, I do not believe there is any good in it.'" See http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/etcbin/toccer-new2?id=GolVica.sgm&images=images/modeng&data=/texts/english/modeng/parsed&tag=public&part=20&division=div1
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