Great Throughts Treasury

A database of quotes

Mary Shelley, née Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin

English Novelist, Short Story Writer, Dramatist, Essayist, Biographer, and Travel Writer, best known for her Gothic novel Frankenstein

"I shall die, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burning miseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral pile triumphantly and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes will be swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep in peace, or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell."

"I shall thus give a general answer to the question, so frequently asked me?"How I, then a young girl, came to think of, and to dilate upon, so very hideous an idea?""

"I spread the whole earth out as a map before me. On no one spot of its surface could I put my finger and say, here is safety."

"I sickened as I read. 'Hateful day when I received life!' I exclaimed in agony. Accursed creator! Why did you form a monster so hideous that even you turned from me in disgust?"

"I threw myself into the chaise that was to convey me away and indulged in the most melancholy reflections. I, who had ever been surrounded by amiable companions, continually engaged in endeavoring to bestow mutual pleasure?I was now alone. In the university whither I was going I must form my own friends and be my own protector. My life had hitherto been remarkably secluded and domestic, and this had given me invincible repugnance to new countenances. I loved my brothers, Elizabeth, and Clerval; these were old familiar faces, but I believed myself totally unfitted for the company of strangers. Such were my reflections as I commenced my journey; but as I proceeded, my spirits and hopes rose. I ardently desired the acquisition of knowledge. I had often, when at home, thought it hard to remain during my youth cooped up in one place and had longed to enter the world and take my station among other human beings. Now my desires were complied with, and it would, indeed, have been folly to repent."

"I trembled, and my heart failed within me; when, on looking up, I saw, by the light of the moon, the daemon at the casement."

"I thank you, Walton, he said, for your kind intentions towards to miserable a wretch; but when you speak of new ties and fresh affections think you that any can replace those who are gone? Can any man be to me as Clerval was, or any woman another Elizabeth? Even where the affections are not strongly moved by any superior excellence, the companions of our childhood always possess a certain power over our minds which hardly any later friend can obtain. They know our infantine dispositions, which, however they may be afterwards modified, are never eradicated; and they can judge of our actions with more certain conclusions as to the integrity of our motives."

"I walked about the isle like a restless spectre, separated from all it loved, and miserable in the separation. When it became noon, and the sun rose higher, I lay down on the grass, and was overpowered by a deep sleep. I had been awake the whole of the preceding night, my nerves were agitated, and my eyes inflamed by watching and misery, The sleep into which I now sunk refreshed me; and when I awoke, I again felt as if I belonged to a race of human beings like myself, and I began to reflect upon what had passed with greater composure; yet still the words of the fiend rung in my ears like a death-knell, they appeared like a dream, yet distinct and oppressive as a reality."

"I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous."

"I was new to sorrow, but it did not the less alarm me."

"I was seized by remorse and the sense of guilt, which hurried me away to a hell of intense tortures as no language can describe"

"I will be cool, persevering, and prudent."

"I will tell my story, and my reader shall judge for me. I will tell my story, and so contrive to pass some few hours of a long eternity, become so worrisome to me."

"I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death - a state which I feared yet did not understand."

"I write a few lines in haste to say that I am safe?and well advanced on my voyage. This letter will reach England by a merchantman now on its homeward voyage from Archangel; more fortunate than I, who may not see my native land, perhaps, for many years. I am, however, in good spirits: my men are bold and apparently firm of purpose, nor do the floating sheets of ice that continually pass us, indicating the dangers of the region towards which we are advancing, appear to dismay them. We have already reached a very high latitude; but it is the height of summer, and although not so warm as in England, the southern gales, which blow us speedily towards those shores which I so ardently desire to attain, breathe a degree of renovating warmth which I had not expected."

"If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends."

"If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your affections and to destroy your taste for those simple pleasures in which no alloy can possibly mix, then that study is certainly unlawful, that is to say, not befitting the human mind."

"If I see but one smile on your lips when we meet, occasioned by this or any other exertion of mine, I shall need no other happiness."

"If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!"

"If, instead of this remark, my father had taken the pains to explain to me that the principles of Agrippa had been entirely exploded, and that a modern system of science had been introduced, which possessed much greater powers than the ancient, because the powers of the latter were chimerical, while those of the former were real and practical; under such circumstances, I should certainly have thrown Agrippa aside, and have contented my imagination, warmed as it was, by returning with greater ardor to my former studies. It is even possible that the train of my ideas would never have received the fatal impulse that led to my ruin. But the cursory glance my father had taken of my volume by no means assured me that he was acquainted with its contents; and I continued to read with the greatest avidity."

"In other studies you go as far as other have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit there is continual food for discovery and wonder."

"In my joy I thrust my hand into the live embers, but quickly drew it out with a cry of pain. How strange, I thought that the same cause should produce such opposite effects."

"I'm a creature of fine sensations."

"Increase of knowledge only discovered to me more clearly what a wretched outcast I was. I cherished hope, it is true, but it vanished when I beheld my person reflected in water or my shadow in the moonshine, even as that frail image and that inconstant shade."

"In the midst of poverty and want, Felix carried with pleasure to his sister the first little white flower that peeped out from beneath the snowy ground."

"Is it not a duty to the survivors that we should refrain from augmenting their unhappiness by an appearance of immoderate grief? It is also a duty owed to yourself; for excessive sorrow prevents improvement or enjoyment, or even the discharge of daily usefulness, without which no man is fit for society."

"It is a farce to call any being virtuous whose virtues do not result from the exercise of its own reason."

"It is a strange fact, but incontestable, that the philanthropist, who ardent in his desire to do good, who patient, reasonable and gentle, yet disdains to use other argument than truth, has less influence over men's minds than he who, grasping and selfish, refuses not to adopt any means, nor awaken any passion, nor diffuse any falsehood, for the advancement of his cause."

"Invention consists in the capacity of seizing on the capabilities of a subject, and in the power of molding and fashioning ideas suggested to it."

"It is hardly surprising that women concentrate on the way they look instead of what is in their minds since not much has been put in their minds to begin with."

"It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world."

"It is a strange feeling for a girl when first she finds the power put into her hand of influencing the destiny of another to happiness or misery. She is like a magician holding for the first time a fairy wand, not having yet had experience of its potency."

"It is so long before the mind can persuade itself that she whom we saw every day and whose very existence appeared a part of our own can have departed forever ? that the brightness of a beloved eye can have been extinguished and the sound of a voice so familiar and dear to the ear can be hushed, never more to be heard. These are the reflections of the first days; but when the lapse of time proves the reality of the evil, then the actual bitterness of grief commences."

"It is true that I have thought more and that my daydreams are more extended and magnificent, but they want (as the painters call it) KEEPING; and I greatly need a friend who would have sense enough not to despise me as romantic, and affection enough for me to endeavor to regulate my mind."

"It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account we shall be more attached to one another."

"It was the part of a woman so to refine and educate her mind, as to be the cause of good alone to him whose fate depended on her smile."

"It may... be judged indecent in me to come forward on this occasion; but when I see a fellow-creature about to perish through the cowardice of her pretended friends, I wish to be allowed to speak, that I may say what I know of her character."

"It is well. I go; but remember, I shall be with you on your wedding-night."

"It is with considerable difficulty that I remember the original era of my being."

"It was the secrets of heaven and earth that I desired to learn."

"Learn from my miseries, and do not seek to increase your own."

"Justine shook her head mournfully. I do not fear to die, she said; that pang is past. God raises my weakness and gives me courage to endure the worst. I leave a sad and bitter world; and if you remember me and think of me as of one unjustly condemned, I am resigned to the fate awaiting me. Learn from me, dear lady, to submit in patience to the will of heaven!"

"It was very different when the masters of science sought immortality and power; such views, although futile, were grand: but now the scene was changed. The ambition of the inquirer seemed to limit itself to the annihilation of those visions on which my interest in science was chiefly founded. I was required to exchange chimeras of boundless grandeur for realities of little worth."

"Justine, you may remember, was a great favorite of yours; and I recollect you once remarked that if you were in an ill humor, one glance from Justine could dissipate it, for the same reason that Ariosto gives concerning the beauty of Angelica ?she looked so frank-hearted and happy. My aunt conceived a great attachment for her, by which she was induced to give her an education superior to that which she had at first intended. This benefit was fully repaid; Justine was the most grateful little creature in the world: I do not mean that she made any professions I never heard one pass her lips, but you could see by her eyes that she almost adored her protectress. Although her disposition was gay and in many respects inconsiderate, yet she paid the greatest attention to every gesture of my aunt. She thought her the model of all excellence and endeavored to imitate her phraseology and manners, so that even now she often reminds me of her."

"Learn from me, if not by my precepts, at least by my example, how dangerous is the acquirement of knowledge, and how much happier that man is who believes his native town to be his world, than he who aspires to become greater than his nature will allow."

"Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it."

"Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated."

"Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first break through, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world."

"Listen to me, Frankenstein. You accuse me of murder; and yet you would, with a satisfied conscience, destroy your own creature. Oh, praise the eternal justice of man!"

"Look forward to future years, if not with eager anticipation, yet with a calm reliance upon the power of good, wholly remote from despair."