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Sentimental Monstrosity

Sentimental Monstrosity

(p.229) Seven Sentimental Monstrosity
An Archaeology of Sympathy
James Chandler
University of Chicago Press

This chapter examines the relation between sentimentalism and moral deformity. It first looks briefly at the emergence of the relation between beauty and deformity in the work of Shaftesbury and Adam Smith. The theme of moral monstrosity emerges explicitly in both writers, as it does in a different register with Rousseau. It then turns to what is made of this connection in the work of the Godwin circle, notably that of Mary and Percy Shelley, who developed some of the fundamental contradictions of the sentimental monster in exquisitely balanced moral tales. Next, the chapter considers the fate of the figure of the sentimental monster in Victorian writers such as Dickens. Finally, it examines some renderings of the Frankenstein story in cinema in the tradition of James Whale's 1931 film.

Keywords:   sentimentalism, moral deformity, Shaftesbury, Adam Smith, Mary Shelley, Percy Shelley, Dickens, James Whale

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