Lyrical sociability: The social contract and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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As a sociable being that is barred from society, Frankenstein's monster presents a sustained engagement with a major dilemma of eighteenth-century philosophy: whether individualism can produce sociability. Through the bodies of the monster and his planned partner, Shelley constructs a dark allegory of Rousseau's social contract theory, which draws on his use of the lyric in The Confessions. With its vague causality and tolerance of contradiction, Shelley suggests that the lyric provides a space for exploring the fractures, inconsistencies, and philosophical underpinnings of a social theory that protects individuals from each other instead of bringing them together.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)406-421
Number of pages16
JournalPhilosophy and Literature
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Johns Hopkins University Press.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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