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Quotations from Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein",
(in support of remarks made in STEIN).
(Page numbers are for the Penguin
paperback "Three Gothic Novels")
To examine the causes of life, we must
first have recourse to death. I became
acquainted with the science of anatomy,
but this was not sufficient; I must also
observe the natural decay and corruption
of the human body.
... I was forced to spend the days and
nights in vaults and charnel-houses.
I paused, examining and analyzing all
the minutiae of causation, as
exemplified in the change from life to
death, and death to life, until from the
midst of this darkness a sudden light
broke in upon me - a light so brilliant
and wondrous, yet so simple, that while,
that while I became dizzy with the
immensity of the prospect which it
illustrated, I was surprised that among
so many men of genius who has directed
their enquires towards the same science,
that I alone should be reserved to
discover so astonishing a secret.
I succeeded in discovering the cause of
generation and life; nay, more, I became
myself capable of bestowing animation
upon lifeless matter.
I see by your eagerness and the wonder
and hope which your eyes express, my
friend, that you expect to be informed
of the secret with which I am
acquainted; that cannot be ...
Life and death appeared to me ideal
bounds, which I should first break
through, and pour a torrent of light
into our dark world. A new species would
bless me as its creator and source ...
... I thought that if I could bestow
animation upon lifeless matter, I might
in the process of time (although I now
found it impossible) renew life where
death had apparently devoted the body to
... I pursued nature to her
hiding-places. Who shall conceive the
horrors of my secret toil as I dabbled
among the unhallowed damps of the grave
or tortured the living animal to animate
the lifeless clay?
I collected bones from charnel-houses
and disturbed with profane fingers, the
tremendous secrets of the human frame.
... I kept my workshop of filthy
The dissecting room and the
slaughter-house furnished many of my
materials; and often did my human nature
turn with loathing from my occupation
... I collected the instruments of
life around me, that I might infuse a
spark of being into the lifeless thing
that lay at my feet. It was already one
in the morning; the rain pattered
dismally against the panes and my candle
was nearly burnt out, when, by the
glimmer of the half-extinguished light,
I saw the dull yellow eye of the
creature open; it breathed hard, and a
convulsive motion agitated its limbs.
How can I describe my emotions at this
catastrophe, or how delineate the wretch
whom with such infinite pains and care I
had endeavored to form? His limbs were
in proportion, and I had selected his
features a beautiful. Beautiful! Great
God! his yellow skin scarcely covered
the work of muscles and arteries
beneath; his hair was of a lustrous
black, and flowing; his teeth of a
pearly whiteness; but these luxuriances
only formed a more horrid contrast with
his watery eyes, that seemed almost of
the same colour as the dun-white sockets
in which they were set, his shriveled
complexion and straight black lips.
'... but one as deformed and horrible
as myself would not deny herself to me.
My companion must be of the same species
and have the same defects.'
I found that I could not compose a female
without again devoting several months to
profound study and laborious disquisition.
I now also began to collect the
materials necessary for my new creation,
and this was to me like the torture of
single drops of water continually
falling on the head.
I packed up my chemical instruments and
the materials I had collected, resolving
to finish my labours in some obscure
It was, indeed, a filthy process in
which I was engaged. During my first
experiment, a kind of enthusiastic
frenzy had blinded me to the horror of
my employment; my mind was intently
fixed on the consummation of my labour,
and my eyes were shut to the horror of
Even if they were to leave Europe and
inhabit the deserts of the new world,
yet one of the first results of those
sympathies for which the daemon thirsted
would be children, and a race of evils
would be propagated upon the earth who
might make the very existence of the
species of man a condition precarious
and full of terror.
The remains of the half-finished
creature, whom I had destroyed, lay
scattered on the floor, and I almost
felt as if I had mangled the living
flesh of a human being.
... I reflected that I ought not to
leave the relics of my work to excite
the horror and suspicion of the
peasants; and I accordingly put them
into a basket, with a great quantity of
stones, and laying them up, determined
to throw them into the sea that very
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