To Hell with Both of You
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How to Cite

To Hell with Both of You: the Dantean Roots of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. (2022). The Political Science Reviewer, 46(2), 149-176.


Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a philosophic novel and a valuable resource for political theorists. A range of readings highlight Shelley’s Romantic concerns with science; others foreground Enlightenment concerns with rights. In this essay, though, I uncover ethical concerns of an earlier epoque in Frankenstein. I show how Shelley’s depiction of Victor’s frozen fate consciously mirrors Dante’s sinners in the frozen Hell of Inferno, indicating how Victor’s fate stems from his betrayal of his family. I argue that Frankenstein offers a more Classical message: caring for our own souls by acting well towards those closest to us provides ethical mooring. This message is particularly pertinent in a time when political scientists emphasize structural problems and solutions in both their research and teaching, solutions which often seem to render individual action meaningless independent of a systematic movement.


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