We all know that Percy Shelley was Mary Shelley’s alleged drive to finish the Frankenstein novel.  While we are not completely sure of all of his involvement, we can assume that he at least encouraged Mary to complete the novel, and pushed her along.  However, it seems like he has a great deal of influence in the novel, especially the passages regarding Mont Blanc, which he wrote a poem of the same name about as well. Mary repeats some of the ideas that her husband-to-be uses in his poem, as well as some imagery, to perhaps enrich the scene with a more poetic feeling.

On page 74, Mary describes Frankenstein and his surroundings in his journey to Geneva, to “investigate” his brother’s murder.  In Frankenstein’s words, she tells us of the great beauty of the space and mountains, saying “the calm and heavenly scene restored [Frankenstein]” (74), and continues to mention how beautiful it was, as influenced as he was by it being a happier time in his life.  What particularly sticks out when rereading the passage is that in extolling this beautiful landscape, Frankenstein calls out, “Dear mountains! my own beautiful lake! how do you welcome your wanderer?” (74).  While this is not necessarily important on its own, something particular to note of Percy Shelley’s Mont Blanc is that the second section is written in the second person, addressing the “Ravine of Arve.”  In using a similar manner to describe the same nature (while not the exact same body of water), she is clearly invoking some of her husband’s work to help develop this image.

Beyond this, she also does something that not many people likely would think of.  In describing the lake that Frankenstein had just addressed partially, and dark mountains around it, she mentions thunder striking over his head,and “vivid flashes of lightning dazzled my eyes, illuminating the lake, making it appear like a vast sheet of fire” (75).  In describing water as looking similar to flame, she is effectively creating a contrasting image, which builds the character of the scene and is an interesting thing to imagine.  I would commend her greatly for this, but in fact, Percy did a very similar thing in Mont Blanc, as well.  In the same second section, he describes the motion of the river Arve: “Bursting through these dark mountains like the flame / Of lightning through the tempest” (18-19).  She is effectively calling the same image, with lightning and all, as Percy did to describe the river Arve in his own poetry.

While it is unsurprising how you could see parallels between a couple’s work, it seems like Mary asked Percy for some assistance in describing the beauty of the mountain landscape that they together experienced in Geneva.

Advertisements