Percy Bysshe Shelley


Percy Bysshe Shelley was born on August 4th, 1792 in Sussex, England. He married Mary Shelley in 1816 after the death of his first spouse, Harriet Westbrook. He was an author of Romantic poems, dramatic works, essays, and novels throughout his career. Although recognized as an influential writer regarding social and political views, he did not obtain fame until after his death.  His work was not recognized by the public due to publishers fearing arrest for blasphemy. It is debated that he was a co-author of Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein.


One of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Mutability” is included within the novel Frankenstein on page 67. This poem’s meaning enhances the analysis of the novel:

“We rest; a dream has power to poison sleep.

We rise; one wand’ring thought pollutes the day.

We feel, conceive, or reason; laugh or weep,

Embrace fond woe, or cast our cares away;

It is the same: for, be it joy or sorrow,

The path of its departure still is free.

Man’s yesterday may ne’er be like his morrow;

Nought may endure but mutability.”

Analysis of poem

The last stanza of Percy Bysshe Shelley’s poem “Mutability” suggests an overall notion of the effect of change. He claims that dreams may cause desperation if not employed correctly. That an individual must “rest” (Shelley 1) his/her soul to obtain a pragmatic view of life’s ambitions. Also, that the world is not perfect nor may it become so. That “we rise” (Shelley 2) to live emotions and feel pain that is natural on earth. That this condition that humans endure will change upon “[his/her] departure” (Shelley 6). He asserts that each day will not be the same, thus stating that the “dream” (Shelley 1) of change may be contemplated by humans which may differentiate the “morrow” (Shelley 7).

 Analysis within the novel

This specific part of the poem can directly connect to the creature within Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. His dream of finding acceptance amongst other individuals “poison[s]” (Shelley 1) his soul with anger towards his maker, Victor. Thus, making him seek change to find a companion. By refusing to grant this simple demand in the end, Victor diverts his reality because the creature lets loose his wrath upon his “morrow” (Shelley 7). The sentence before the poem alludes to man not being able to stay upon a single path, but rather they seek change “by every wind that blows” (M. Shelley 67) their way. Therefore, the poem supports the creatures claim on the notion of change.

By Anna-Lena Johanson


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