From p. 92 “It was nearly noon….joys of life” and Percy Shelley’s “Mont Blanc”

Describing his descent into the valley at the foot of Mont Blanc, Victor relates a profound awe for the elemental majesty before him, which reflects the reverent tone expressed in Percy Shelley’s “Mont Blanc.” In their reverence, both speakers impart a living energy to the mountain and its surrounding landscape, enhancing the overall awareness of the sublime.  For example, the disjointed syntax and catalogue of prepositional phrases create a rhythmic movement to the opening of the poem, mirroring the movement the speaker prescribes to the “everlasting universe of things.” The constant fluctuation attributed to this “universe of things” as “now dark – now glittering – now reflecting gloom” is unsettling in its unpredictability and enduring mutability, like a “vast river/ Over its rocks ceaselessly bursts and raves.” Victor also perceives this movement in the “uneven” surface of the mountain landscape, “rising like the waves of a troubled sea.” Describing the solidness of the mountain with an image of the persistent flow of water is disturbing because such a juxtaposition of images challenges readers conceptions of what is fixed and what is mutable in nature. Further, Victor enhances the reader’s uneasiness by attributing a mysterious and dark quality to the scene before him, which appeared as “troubled sea, descending low, and interspersed by rifts that sink deep.” From this brooding tone, Victor shifts to recount his experience “gazing on this wonderful and stupendous scene” with a religious devotion to Mont Blanc’s “awful majesty.” The “awful majesty” Victor describes derives from the seemingly divine power the speaker of “Mont Blanc”attributes to the Arve which “comes down/ From…his secret throne…like the flame/ Of lightning through the tempest.”

Finally, the powerful sight of Mont Blanc moves Victor to passionately appeal to the “‘Wandering spirits…[to] take me, as your companion, away from the joys of life.’” Victor’s ejaculation echoes the humbled tone in “Mont Blanc,” in which the speaker observes that he is “in a trance sublime and strange,” under the influence of the “ghosts of all things that are” and overcome by the primeval power of the sight he proclaims. These appeals demonstrate the power of the sublime to transcend the worlds of the living and the dead.

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