Charles E. Robinson's "Note to 'The Mortal Immortal'"

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The Mortal Immortal by Mary Shelley, Edited by Michael Eberle-Sinatra

Charles E. Robinson's "Note to 'The Mortal Immortal'"

The name 'Winzy' might suggest that the protagonist of this story is a comic character; but the Scottish word 'winze' means curse and is here used to emphasize the tragic curse of eternal life suffered by the Mortal Immortal. And by portraying Bertha as a ridiculous coquette who deserves the embarrassment she experiences, Mary Shelley insures that the reader's sympathy will be reserved for Winzy. His histrionics at the end of this first-person narrative may seem laughable, but again such action follows logically from his desire for purpose either in life or in death. As in the cases of Frankenstein and the less well-known tales of Valerius and Roger Dodsworth, two mortals who cheat death through their reanimation, the author uses a supernatural action as a mere device to introduce a study in character. But it is the idea of an elixir vitae rather than the portrayal of Winzy's loneliness which has made 'The Mortal Immortal' the most frequently anthologized of Mary Shelley's stories. (390)

Published @ RC

September 1997