Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was an English novelist best known for writing the Gothic novel Frankenstein. Her life was complicated and filled with traumas. Her mother died less than a month after giving birth to her, and her father raised her by himself until she was four. He then married his neighbor, Mary Jane Clairmont, with whom Shelley would have a troubled relationship.
Her father ensured she had a full education, despite it being an informal one. He also encouraged her to follow his anarchist political beliefs. Her political beliefs are reflected in some of these Mary Shelley quotes from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.
In 1814, Shelley fell in love with one of her father’s political followers, Percy Bysshe Shelley, who was a romantic poet and philosopher. It’s not surprising that there are several quotes about love, especially since she frequently edited and promoted her husband’s poetry.
Their love wasn’t uncomplicated though, as he was married when their relationship began. During the beginning of their relationship, Shelley became pregnant with his child, causing the couple to become ostracised from polite society. They were also in debt constantly.
Sadly, their daughter was born prematurely and did not survive. Harriet, Percy Shelley’s first wife, committed suicide, and the pair were married in late 1816. This was the same year Shelley conceived the idea for her novel Frankenstein. Enjoy these Mary Shelley quotes and lines!
Don’t forget to also check out these Frankenstein quotes to help you understand the trueness of humanity.
Famous Mary Shelley quotes from Frankenstein
1. “Nothing is so painful to the human mind as a great and sudden change.” ― Mary Shelley
2. “Beware; for I am fearless, and therefore powerful.” ― Mary Shelley
3. “Life, although it may only be an accumulation of anguish, is dear to me, and I will defend it.” ― Mary Shelley
4. “If I cannot inspire love, I will cause fear!” ― Mary Shelley
5. “There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.” ― Mary Shelley
6. “The world to me was a secret, which I desired to discover; to her, it was a vacancy, which she sought to people with imaginations of her own.” ― Mary Shelley
7. “How mutable are our feelings, and how strange is that clinging love we have of life even in the excess of misery!” ― Mary Shelley
8. “When falsehood can look so like the truth, who can assure themselves of certain happiness?” ― Mary Shelley
9. “It is true, we shall be monsters, cut off from all the world; but on that account, we shall be more attached to one another.” ― Mary Shelley
10. “I was benevolent and good; misery made me a fiend. Make me happy, and I shall again be virtuous.” ― Mary Shelley
11. “What a glorious creature must he have been in the day of his prosperity when he is thus noble and godlike in ruin.” ― Mary Shelley
12. “I see by your eagerness and the wonder and hope which your eyes express, my friend, that you expect to be informed of the secret with which I am acquainted. That cannot be.” ― Mary Shelley
13. “One wandering thought pollutes the day.” ― Mary Shelley
14. “In other studies, you go as far as others have gone before you, and there is nothing more to know; but in a scientific pursuit, there is continual food for discovery and wonder.” ― Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley quotes about love
15. “There is love in me the likes of which you’ve never seen. There is rage in me the likes of which should never escape. If I am not satisfied int he one, I will indulge the other.” ― Mary Shelley
16. “Once I falsely hoped to meet the beings who, pardoning my outward form, would love me for the excellent qualities which I was capable of unfolding.” ― Mary Shelley
17. “I am alone and miserable. Only someone as ugly as I am could love me.” ― Mary Shelley
18. “My heart was fashioned to be susceptible of love and sympathy, and when wrenched by misery to vice and hatred, it did not endure the violence of the change without torture, such as you cannot even imagine.” ― Mary Shelley
19. “Surely something resides in this heart that is not perishable—and life is more than a dream.” ― Mary Shelley
20. “I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other.” ― Mary Shelley
21. “Love from its very nature must be transitory. To seek for a secret that would render it constant would be as wild a search as for the philosopher’s stone or the grand panacea: and the discovery would be equally useless, or rather pernicious to mankind. The most holy band of society is friendship.” ― Mary Shelley
22. “It is far better to be often deceived than never to trust; to be disappointed in love, then never to love.” ― Mary Shelley
Feminist Mary Shelley quotes from A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
23. “My own sex, I hope, will excuse me, if I treat them like rational creatures, instead of flattering their fascinating graces, and viewing them as if they were in a state of perpetual childhood, unable to stand alone.” ― Mary Shelley
24. “I do not wish them [women] to have power over men but over themselves.” ― Mary Shelley
25. “Taught from their infancy that beauty is woman’s scepter, the mind shapes itself to the body, and roaming round its gilt cage, only seeks to adorn its prison.” ― Mary Shelley
26. “I love man as my fellow; but his scepter, real, or usurped, extends not to me unless the reason of an individual demands my homage; and even then the submission is to reason, and not to man.” ― Mary Shelley
27. “But women are very differently situated with respect to each other—for they are all rivals (…) Is it then surprising that when the sole ambition of woman centers in beauty and interest gives vanity additional force, perpetual rivalships should ensue? They are all running the same race and would rise above the virtue of morals if they did not view each other with a suspicious and even envious eye.” ― Mary Shelley
28. “The man who can be contented to live with a pretty and useful companion who has no mind has lost in voluptuous gratifications a taste for more refined pleasures; he has never felt the calm and refreshing satisfaction… of being loved by someone who could understand him.” ― Mary Shelley
29. “And, perhaps, in the education of both sexes, the most difficult task is so to adjust instruction as not to narrow the understanding, whilst the heart is warmed by the generous juices of spring… nor to dry up the feelings by employing the mind in investigations remote from life.” ― Mary Shelley
30. “All the sacred rights of humanity are violated by insisting on blind obedience.” ― Mary Shelley
31. “Yet women, whose minds are not enlarged by cultivation, or in whom the natural selfishness of sensibility hasn’t been expanded by reflection, are very unfit to manage a family because they always stretch their power and use tyranny to maintain a superiority that rests on nothing but the arbitrary distinction of fortune.” ― Mary Shelley
32. “Happy would it be for women if they were only flattered by the men who loved them; I mean, who love the individual, not the sex.” ― Mary Shelley
33. “And having no fear of the devil before my eyes, I venture to call this a suggestion of reason, instead of resting my weakness on the broad shoulders of the first seducer of my frail sex.” ― Mary Shelley
34. “There must be more equality established in society or morality will never gain ground, and this virtuous equality will not rest firmly even when founded on a rock if one half of mankind be chained to its bottom by fate, for they will be continually undermining it through ignorance or pride.” ― Mary Shelley
35. “It is justice, not charity, that is wanting in the world!” ― Mary Shelley
36. “It is not necessary for me always to premise that I speak of the condition of the whole sex, leaving exceptions out of the question.” ― Mary Shelley
37. “How much more respectable is the woman who earns her own bread by fulfilling any duty than the most accomplished beauty!” ― Mary Shelley
Mary Shelley quotes about death
38. “Solitude was my only consolation―deep, dark, deathlike solitude.” ― Mary Shelley
39. “Death snatches away many blooming children, the only hopes of their doting parents: how many brides and youthful lovers have been one day in the bloom of health and hope, and the next a prey for worms and the decay of the tomb!” ― Mary Shelley
40. “Polluted by crimes, and torn by the bitterest remorse, where can I find rest but in death?” ― Mary Shelley
41. “If you will comply with my conditions, I will leave them and you at peace; but if you refuse, I will glut the maw of death, until it be satiated with the blood of your remaining friends.” ― Mary Shelley
42. “I wished sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death – a state which I feared yet did not understand.” ― Mary Shelley
43. “Life and death appeared to me ideal bounds, which I should first breakthrough, and pour a torrent of light into our dark world.” ― Mary Shelley
44. “I could not understand why men who knew all about good and evil could hate and kill each other.” ― Mary Shelley
Inspirational Mary Shelley quotes
45. “Nothing contributes so much to tranquilize the mind as a steady purpose – a point on which the soul may fix its intellectual eye.” ― Mary Shelley
46. “The beginning is always today.” ― Mary Shelley
47. “Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos.” ― Mary Shelley
48. “Life is obstinate and clings closest where it is most hated.” ― Mary Shelley
49. “My dreams were all my own; I accounted for them to nobody; they were my refuge when annoyed – my dearest pleasure when free.” ― Mary Shelley
50. “Elegance is inferior to virtue.” ― Mary Shelley
What did you learn from these Mary Shelley quotes?
In 1816, the couple spent a summer with Lord Byron and John William Polidori near Geneva, Switzerland. Her step-sister accompanied them and became pregnant with Lord Byron’s child. Mary’s step-sister, Claire, left their daughter with Lord Byron when the trio moved to Italy in 1818.
Both of the couple’s children passed away in Italy, and this devastated Mary Shelley. Shelley gave birth to her last and only surviving child, Percy Florence Shelley in 1819. She wrote several novels during her time in Italy but was often physically ill and depressed.
There was also a scandal involving another child who Mr. Shelley had registered as Elena Adelaide Shelley, his daughter with Mary Shelley. Except, Mary Shelley was not the child’s mother. It is still unclear whose child she was, as the situation remained a mystery.
Then in 1822, her husband drowned in a sailboat accident near Viareggio. A year later, Shelley returned to England and from then focused on the upbringing of her son and her career as a professional author. The last decade of her life was plagued with illness, most likely the result of the brain tumor that killed her at age 53.
Mary Shelley doesn’t often get the credit she deserves as people argue over how much her husband contributed to her novels, including Frankenstein. Many scholars like Ellen Moers, point out that Frankenstein is a ‘Birth Myth,’ and the loss of Shelley’s baby was a catalyst for the novel. Anne K. Mellor suggests the story is “about what happens when a man tries to have a baby without a woman…”
What do you think about the novel Frankenstein? Do you have any other favorite Mary Shelley quotes and sayings to add? Let us know in the comments below.
May 10, 2021 7:00 AM EST