Mary Shelley: Author of "Frankenstein"

By Elizabeth Nitchie | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER
6
Friends, Foes, and Family

Except for Shelley, the Godwin family, Byron, and Trelawny, Mary used in her fiction very few of her large circle of friends, foes, acquaintances, and relatives. The reasons for her inclusions and omissions are fairly clear. She could show the world her idealized Shelley; she could bring some relief to her feelings in analyzing Godwin and Claire; she could do justice to Fanny Imlay, now dead; she could create her romantic heroes out of Byron and Trewalny. A few of those she regarded as enemies, she pilloried. But her merely faulty living friends, for whom with all their faults she felt affection, she could not romanticize; nor could she hurt them by realistic or satiric portrayal. Therefore, although the individual is sometimes impaled by a pointed sentence or two in her letters, in her fiction there is no false friend like Jane Williams, no exasperating, helpless, prolific family like the Hunts,1 no bore like Medwin, no stingy and supercilious Hogg. Many of those whom she loved without reservation had no sharp corners, or so few that even if she was thinking of them as

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1
The Cecils in Falkner resemble the Hunts in no way except in the number of their children and the fact that they were travelling-- "a roving horde."

-128-

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