Mary Shelley has explicitly and implicitly incorporated other texts into her novel Frankenstein. There are many intertextual moments in her novel that serve to demonstrate certain ideas in the novel, including a passage from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.”
“Like one who, on a lonely road,
Doth walk in fear and dread,
And, having once turned round, walks on,
And turns no more his head;
Because he knows a frightful fiend
Doth close behind him tread.”
-Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner”
At this point in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Victor has just finished infusing life into an inanimate object. He is immediately horrified when his creation comes to life and he realizes that he has created a monster. He is completely distraught and does not know what to do. He cannot sleep at night because he is so horrified by the monster that he has created and he aimlessly wanders the streets in the pouring rain because he does not want to go back to the place where he created the monster.
At this point in “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” the mariner is adrift in Antarctica by himself. His lonely vessel is slipping through the icy ocean filled with what he believes to be sea monsters. His conscience is heavy with the stress of knowing that he is the lone survivor, and his emotions are in turmoil, similar to the emotional state of Victor Frankenstein.
This passage from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” demonstrates some important ideas in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein. Clearly, both Victor and the mariner are lost and struggling. Victor is struggling and lost because he has just realized that he has done something which he cannot take back – he has created a monster that does not belong in the world. The mariner is quite literally lost, in the sense that he is alone on a ship somewhere at sea. Monsters are surrounding both Victor and the mariner. Victor’s creation follows him and spies on him while he works. The monster also spies on the De Lacey family. Victor is also being followed by the dream of infusing life into an inanimate object that had gone so wrong. The mariner feels that sea monsters are following him when he is lost at sea. Both Victor and the mariner feel very alone. After Victor has created the monster, he says, “I continued walking in this manner for some time, endeavoring my bodily exercise to ease the load that weighed upon my mind. I traversed the streets without any clear conception of where I was or what I was doing. My heart palpitated in the sickness of fear, and I hurried on with irregular steps not daring to look about me” (Shelley, 44). Shelley makes it clear that Victor and the mariner are experiencing the same feelings. Victor is afraid to look around him because he does not want to look and see the monster that is following him just like the mariner does not want to look back and see the sea monsters that he thinks are following him. This is how this passage from Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner” demonstrates some important ideas in Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.
In conclusion, Mary Shelley has incorporated other texts into her novel Frankenstein in order to demonstrate certain ideas in the novel. Some of these ideas include the similarities between Victor Frankenstein and the mariner.