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Shelley’s Frankenstein is a retelling of Prometheus. The Outcast is created by an omnipotent Father and then abandoned by his maker. Frankenstein’s monster is born a gentle being, a vegetarian. He wishes noone, no animal or being, to suffer pain. It is only after his own intense suffering that he is forced to strike back.

My food is not that of man...I do not destroy the lamb and the kid to glut my appetite; acorns and berries afford me sufficient nourishment.

Frankenstein’s Creature

19th century Romantics connected vegetarianism with the idea of original innocence; purity before the fall. Goodness and gentleness were connected with a diet absent of flesh. It is believed Mary was vegetarian. Her husband, the poet Percy Shelley was famously so, believing vegetarianism was a radical and revolutionary necessity.

At the turn of the 19th century, the public were obsessed with science and the idea of artificially creating life. They were worried about their future in a world at war.  Perhaps Mary was partially evoking the loss of a mother she never knew when she wrote Frankenstein at the age of 18. Her writing is filled with social, scientific and moral commentary, yet contains a naive purity. As Mary was giving birth to a son, all around her she saw death and destruction. She and Percy were far from family and friends, outcasts themselves, sometimes reviled.

Frankenstein’s creature longs for love.  His vegetarian diet is seen as an expression of his enlightenment and sensitivity. He kills once, only to feed his creator. Yet he is feared and hunted down like an animal. Frankenstein is a morality tale that depicts the tragic outcome of rejected love and absence of compassion.

The central image in this work depicts the beginnings of life: an original fragment of Victorian scientific glass lantern slide. It rests against a golden orb. It is almost certain that Mary and Percy would have seen projections from Lantern Slides similar to this. Likely that these lectures fed Mary’s imagination and contributed to her writing. The tiny triumverate of leaves refers to the creature’s vegetarianism: the white Victorian button to his purity and attempts at an unorthodox domesticity.


Victorian Glass Lantern Slide embedded in resin, re-purposed bronze disc, found steel chain, found vintage watch bezel, found silver heart


This piece has been sold.