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"Mutability" by Percy Shelley

posted Sep 07, 2011 18:33:42 by rrhodehouse
Now that we've read and "analyzed" the poem a little bit, tell me WHY you think Mary Shelley included this short clip in her novel? How did it add to the story? Did it change the tone? (Consider the meaning of the title, of the poem altogether, and even its author.)

Post a reply here that is one paragraph in length. You will then need to come back and reply to one other student so I know that you came back to read what others wrote. Due by Sunday night, 9/11 at midnight. (10 points for initial post and 5 minutes for reply)
Ms. Rhodehouse
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72 replies
Rebecca said Sep 07, 2011 22:03:45
In chapter nine, Victor has gone away with his family after Justine's death, and he has momentarily forgotten about his "problem". Then in chapter ten, he decides to go walking out in the mountains, and he thinks everything is alright, at least from his circumstances. Then Mary Shelly put in the last two stanzas of the poem, and of course we said it talks about change. Immediately after the stanzas, Victor says he sees the creature coming towards him. I think Mary Shelley was just foreshadowing the events to come. I'm positive none of us actually thought he was rid of the creature, but it changed the tone. We didn't know when the creature was coming back into the story, so Shelley probably decided it was a good transition into the next part of the story.
MadelineHipol said Sep 08, 2011 01:01:03
As chapter nine closes Victor Frankenstein ventures into the mountains in hopes of forgetting himself and his sorrows. It is in this setting that chapter ten opens. Victor spends a lot of time describing the beauty of the landscape saying that while it "didnt remove his grief" it helped calm him and distracted him from his pain. Percy Shelly's poem provides feelings and thoughts similar to those the reader had while reading about Frankenstein's opinion of the mountains. We see the idea of change paralleled between the story and the poem, whether it be when the weather changes to being bleak and rainy, or Victor discussing how mankind is moved by every little "wind that blows." The poem also provides slight forshadowing of Victor and his monsters future in the line: "Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow" describing regret or how the things that area about to happen will change the daemon and Frankenstein's futures. Sure enough, in the next paragraph the Daemon comes to Victor seeking to be heard and to find hope for a less lonely future despite being abandoned in the past.
CourtneyMarieWilliams said Sep 08, 2011 22:03:15
In Chapters 9-10 of Frankenstein, Victor is pondering the execution of Justine, and he revels in nature quite a bit. In Chapter 10, he is on top of a mountain, pondering the beauty of nature, and trying to overcome his melancholy attitude over what he has done--both with the monster, and inadvertently to Justine. He sees the creature coming at him, and once they meet the monster speaks to Victor, convincing him to come talk. The poem inserted in chapter 10 sets the tone to one of change, as well as the overwhelming tone of remorse. I think Mary Shelley included the clip to highlight the change of the monster talking for the first time, showing that change is both a good and bad thing, and bringing the monster back into the story in an easy way. It also helps change the tone to less remorseful and more informative, and to set up the rest of the story-line (for the monster's tale, and the ensuing rest of the story).
EloraNielsen said Sep 09, 2011 01:24:19
In Chapter 9, Victor Frankenstein is feeling guilt for what he has created and the death of Justine. He decides that he is take a vacation and going to explore. At the beginning of Chapter 10, he is on a mountain and he thinking about the beauty of the forest as he is going to sleep with the cloud up above. When he wakes up, he says, "Where had they fled when the next morning I awoke? All of fled with sleep, and dark melancholy clouded every thought.". This statement made me think of the first stanza of the poem, Mutability, as it talks about clouds and how beautiful they are. Then as quickly as they appeared, they vanish. I just thought it was interesting. I think that this poem was added to the story because it helped add depth to the book. It made the reader wonder what was going to happen next as it had a forshadowing effect. It symbolized the change that was going to happen as the monster appears soon after Frankenstein is exploring in the woods. It changed the book into a happier and more thoughtful tone. I think that it is interesting that the author was Mary Shelley's husband. This shows that she respected her husband's writing, enough to include it in her own novel.
TaylorParkinson said Sep 09, 2011 03:23:59
I think that the poem "Mutability" was placed in this specific part of the novel to emphasize and foreshadow the change that was to come. Victor was trying to recover, to cope with his guilt and remorse. He went away to the mountains to find his cure, but the changes that took place that night stopped him from reaching his goal. The weather intensified, his creation not only appeared but also spoke to him. As in the poem, Victor is changed quite rapidly over such a seemingly small event. His whole life takes a turn for the worst, due to the fact that his creation seeks revenge. I also think that this poem relates directly to Victor in the sense that he had the opportunity to change for the better. If he had only taken responsibility for his creation, taught it, loved it, and helped it, many lives, including his own, could have been saved. I also think that simple changes in attitude on both Victor’s and the creature’s part could have resulted in a much better form of change. In the end, change is the only constant, but we do have some small ability to control that change, all depending on our attitudes and how we react to each situation.
CourtneyMarieWilliams said Sep 10, 2011 05:49:37
Elora, I like what you mentioned about how the author was her husband. I'm curious as to whether there was bias as well, because when I looked up Frankenstein, it actually said that Percy helped her revise Frankenstein a lot, and I'm wondering if he even put it in himself. He was kind of a self-important person.
CaylinCoberly said Sep 10, 2011 14:39:40
Like many people have said already on this discussion board, I believe adding this poem to the text was to foreshadow the change that was to come later in the book. The line right before the poem says "If our impulses were confined to hunger, thirst, and desire, we might nearly be free; but now we are moved by every wind that blows and a chance word or scene that that word my convey to us." I think the last part of that sentence where it talks about the "chance word or scene" that can move a person is a huge indicator to readers that Victor is going to hear something or encounter something that will completely change the plotline of the book. I believe the poem was used to enforce this foreshadow, particularly with the last couple lines of the poem: " Man's yesterday may ne'er be like his morrow; Nought may endure but mutablity!"

I believe that the frequent use of the word "we" in the first paragraph was also significant. It shows that there is more than one individual involved and since the rest of the poem holds up the theme of change, readers can assume that more than one person is going to be going through this foreshadowed change. Another thing I thought was interesting about this paragraph was the last two lines: "We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep, embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;" This poem was placed right before the Creature tells his story and when he describes how nobody treated him as an equal or even a human, including his creator. I thought adding that part of the poem was interesting because, to me, those two lines of the poem show that we as humans feel similar emotions (use of "we" again). This was a concept Victor struggled with throughout the book because he only saw the Creature for the monster that he was and not for the individual with human qualities that he also was. I suppose this part of the poem could be considered a foreshadowing because Victor did learn that the Creature felt human emotions soon after, but that knowledge didn't really change his attitude toward the monster. Just thought it was an interesting part of the poem!

Sorry for this obnoxiously long post. Go over-achievers!!
EloraNielsen said Sep 10, 2011 19:09:25
Caylin, I like how you talked about the significance of the word "we" in Percy Shelley's poem. It was something that I had not thought of before. I also like the last line of your post. It made me laugh :)
Nicole-J said Sep 10, 2011 19:18:48
I think in part Mary Shelley included it simply because her husband wrote it. Also becuases it emphasizes the fact that change really is all around us, and the she herself had been through much change. I also think she included this because of the way Victor felt. He himself was changing; as he was in the mountains, he began to feel joy instead of sorrow. However this all changed when the creature showed up. Another reason this poem could be included is if you read the 3rd to last line it says, “The path of it’s departure still is free,” this could be foreshadowing to later in the novel when Victor realizes the only way he can free himself is by making the creature disappear. I think this poem gives people something else to think about, maybe something they can even apply in their own lives. It is there to help us try to understand how Victor is feeling at the moment.
Nicole-J said Sep 10, 2011 19:29:53
Taylor, I really like what you said about how even though change is all around us, we still have the opportunity and power to make a difference because of our attitudes and the way we react to change.
McKinzieB said Sep 10, 2011 19:30:58
Nicole I like what you said about how the third to last line foreshadows what will happen later in the novel. I had never thought about that before. I also like how you said it can help us understand how Victor is feeling.
McKinzieB said Sep 10, 2011 19:34:10
I definitely think that part of the reason Mary Shelley put the poem in the novel is because her husband wrote it. But with that said I also think that it fits into the novel very well. I think that the poem shows that Victor is changing. He is starting to realize that the people in his life are more important than his science. He is starting to truly realize his mistake in creating the Creature, but at the same time he is turning his sorrow into joy. Victor is realizing how short life is so he needs to make the best out of it.
Jasmine said Sep 10, 2011 21:21:28
At first I totally skimmed the poem, but now that I know its there it makes the story look a little different. "Mutability" means the ability to change and I believe that it is foreshadowing the changes that come later in the novel. There are huge changes in the book following chapter ten and now that I've seen it, it makes complete sense as to why its in there. Mary Shelley loved her husband and having her include his poem in the story makes it take a more personal perspective. After going back and readin git again, I realized that it added to the story by adding a little suspense to it. The overall tone of the book is one of darkness and being somber and I think the poem emcompasses that. It doesn't change it, but adds to it. Change can be a very somber thing and it makes us realize that everything really does change.
Wesley said Sep 10, 2011 21:26:18
I believe the poem was put into the novel to solidify the idea that is throughout the book that nothing is permanent, there is always mutablility. The night before, Victor is feeling good for the first time in a long time, but as he rests, "A dream has power to poison [his] sleep". On a bigger scale, the lives Elizabeth, Clerval, Justine, and William are short and fleeting. Ultimately, Victor's short lived obsession with the spark of animation mutates into his worst enemy, and eventually the monster brings about his demise. I thought it was powerful in the novel. It drives home the point of 'what was will never be again'. This to me was a turning point in the novel. Before this point, Victor's life has seen heartache, but after this, after he talks with the monster, his life is forever changed.
Wesley said Sep 10, 2011 21:34:55
Courtney, I like the idea that the poem sort of introduces the monster back into the story. A change of the story comes about when the monster tells his, and the poem is set right before the introduction, thus changing the tone.
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