Page 76. " For some time I sat upon the rock that overlooks the sea of ice "

    The glacier Montanvert, where it fills a narrow valley on the northern slopes of Mont Blanc, is known as the 'Mer de Glace' and has been a popular tourist destination for centuries.  It was one of the sights visited by the Shelleys during their European travels with Claire Clairmont, described in Letter IV of their joint journal.


Online edition of 'History of a Six Weeks' Tour', Mary and Percy Shelley, (1817)







Google Map


Page 81. " the little winged animals who had often intercepted the light from my eyes "

   The creature, either through miseducation or his own faulty reasoning, has apparently subscribed to the ancient misconception that the human eye projects rays of light out into the world, rather than receiving them from it.  What is now called the 'emission theory' of perception was articulated and upheld by ancient writers including Plato and Ptolemy, but fell out of favour early in the second millenium AD.

Page 83. " it presented to me then as exquisite and fine a retreat as Pandæmonium appeared to the demons of hell "

   The capital of Hell in John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost (1674), suddenly erected at the end of Book I as a meeting place for a council of demons to debate a second war on Heaven (See note to page 103).

Online edition of John Milton's Paradise Lost, (1674)

Page 91. " My organs were indeed harsh, but supple; and although my voice was very unlike the soft music of their tones, yet I pronounced such words as I understood with tolerable ease "

   The ability to speak is the key element which distinguishes Mary Shelley's creature from the hulking, flat-headed mute we know so well from films and costume parties, although his traditional depiction was already well-established in Shelley's lifetime by several melodramatic stage adaptations.  It became an inseparable part of the novel's modern image after James Whale's 1931 film version, which depicts both the mental and moral deficiency of the creature as the result of him being given an abnormal, "criminal" brain rather than a healthy one.  Always limited by an unspoken agreement to making the occasional savage, monosyllabic outburst for either sentimental or comic effect, this popular portrayal reduces Frankenstein to a simplistic moral parable at the expense of its more radical side, most of which is grounded in the almost absurdly eloquent creature's lengthy self-defence. 













Online script of Richard Brinsley Peake's play 'Presumption; or, The Fate of Frankenstein', (1823)

Online script of H.M. Milner's play 'Frankenstein; or, The Man and the Monster!', (1826)

Page 92. " It was as the ass and the lap-dog; yet surely the gentle ass, whose intentions were affectionate, although his manners were rude, deserved better treatment "


   'The Ass and the Lapdog' is one of the ancient fables attributed to the classical fabulist Aesop: the ass, tired of working in the fields, decides to try living like its master's pampered lapdog instead, with predictably messy results.  The moral of the story, that none can escape the destiny to which their form fits them, closely resembles the simple, conservative shape into which Frankenstein has often been forced, but stands against everything the creature's education tells us.

Online edition of the complete 'Aesop's Fables'

Page 95. " Through this work I obtained a cursory knowledge of history, and a view of the several empires "

The Ruins, or a Survey of the Revolutions of Empires (1792) by French orientalist Constantin François de Chassebœuf, who called himself 'Volney', was partly a travelogue of his trips to several eastern nations, and partly an account of their ancient history.  Upholding libertarian values, the book imagines a coming revolution in which all world religions join as one, throwing off the shackles of tyranny and forming a utopian world government.  Like the rest of the creature's library, the book gives his education a decidedly radical, Romantic bent (See note to page 103).