1818 Comparing Versions 1831
An Annotated Frankenstein by Victoria Machado
I have changed no portion of the story, nor introduced any new ideas or circumstances…” Mary Shelley
With her introduction to her 1831 revised version, Mary Shelley created a new monster: the story of how she came to write Frankenstein.
Examining the two versions provokes the question of whether or not the changes were significant enough to alter the overall meaning of the work. The seemingly minor revisions that establish Victor as the helpless victim of fate is achieved through very few lines, but if Victor is now the victim of fate, doesn't that dramatically change the meaning of the novel? In the first version, Victor seems incapable of controlling his creation because of his arrogance and cowardice. In the revised version, Victor's personality doesn't matter at all if fate controls all things.
The changes in the characters are more obviously the result of changes from the Romantics to the Victorians in the types of characters found in novels of those eras.
Do these qualify as "new ideas or circumstances" or can they be defined in other ways?
When Victor is about to leave for Scotland:
Elizabeth in 1818: voices her regrets that as a woman she doesn’t have the opportunity to travel to enlarge her experience.
Elizabeth in 1831: Just cries and waves bye bye.
Changes in Character
Clerval in 1818: dreamer and poet
Clerval in 1831: a colonial imperialist who loves enterprise, hardship, and danger
Caroline Frankenstein in 1818: dies because she foolishly ignores advice to stay away from Elizabeth who is recovering from scarlet fever
Caroline Frankenstein in 1831: intentionally sacrifices her life to care for the ill Elizabeth
The Creature explains why he framed Justine
"Here, I thought, is one of those whose smiles are bestowed on all but me; she shall not escape: thanks to the lessons of Felix, and the sanguinary laws of man, I have learned how to work mischief. I approached her unperceived, and placed the portrait securely in one of the folds of her dress.” (1818 F: 97)
"Awake, fairest, thy lover is near--he who would give his life but to obtain one look of affection from thine eyes: my beloved, awake!" The sleeper stirred; a thrill of terror ran through me. Should she indeed awake, and see me, and curse me, and denounce the murderer? Thus would she assuredly act…The
thought was madness; it stirred the fiend within me--not I, but she shall suffer: the murder that I have committed because I am forever robbed of all that she could give me, she shall atone. The crime had its source in her: be hers the punishment!" (1831 F: 143-144)
Elizabeth's powerful indictment of the justice system in 1818 version:
The indictment does not appear in any form in the 1831 version
Lines Spoken by Victor Frankenstein Regarding Fate and Destiny that only appear in the 1831 Version:
“It was a strong effort of the spirit of good; but it was ineffectual. Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction.”
“Chance--or rather the evil influence, the Angel of Destruction, which asserted omnipotent sway over me…”
“Such were the professor’s words--rather let me say such the words of fate, enounced to destroy me.”
“if thus inexorable fate be satisfied…”
and Spoken by Others
“Learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the will of Heaven!” - Justine
“I think our placid home, and our contented hearts are regulated by those same immutable laws.” - Elizabeth