our placid home, and our contented hearts

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NOTES

our placid home, and our contented hearts

Elizabeth's conformity to her female lot, staying in Geneva rather than traveling to Ingolstadt to care for Victor, spreading contentment around her, being content herself with "trifling occupations," has been a source of irritation to many critics who, from this and similar evidence, see the novel as enforcing a mindless domesticity as the only alternative to the overreaching of the male protagonists. Yet, to take this passage at face value as the expression not of Elizabeth but of Mary Shelley, is not really defensible as a critical reading. Elizabeth's blandness is an aspect of her character. Her satisfaction with, broadly speaking, the beautiful is certainly an aspect of the female role in this period, but in no way does her author resemble her in this narrow predeliction. Nor does the novel unquestionably reinforce it. After all, the first direct view we as readers have had of this serene landscape was as a violent thunderstorm burst from over the Jura mountains (I:1:22). When in the second volume Victor enters into, instead of gazing upon, this world of "snow-clad mountains," it will be to confront the sublime directly.