Narrative Point of View


A page for comments on Mary Shelley’s stories “The Mortal Immortal” and/or “Transformation”



  1. One observation I have made about Shelley’s work so far is that both stories involve characters’ regrets about their desire-driven actions. In “The Mortal Immortal,” the main character drinks a potion that he believes will rid him of his hopeless love for a girl, but suffers severe eternal regret as he realizes he his doomed to live forever. In “Transformation,” the main character agrees to temporarily switch bodies with the dwarf because he wants the dwarf’s treasure. He is later regretful of his foolish agreement when he realizes the dwarf never intended on giving him back his body. This theme is also seen in Shelley’s “Frankenstein,” in which the main character fulfills his scientific aspirations by bringing to life a man-made being, but ends up suffering extreme regret after he realizes that his own creation is ruining his life. The main character spends the rest of the story trying to destroy the creature and reverse the mistake of his creation. I am interested in this pattern in Shelley’s work and am considering addressing it in my main paper. Any feedback, insight, etc. would be appreciated. Thanks.

    Comment by Kevin Bole — February 4, 2010 @ 2:50 am

  2. In Gothic fiction of the kind that Mary Shelley wrote, the main characters always got exactly what they wanted. Their tragedy was that they never realized that they wanted that particular outcome, because it had always been such an intimate part of them from the beginning. When they saw themselves more clearly, then, they were horrified.

    Comment by Prof. Darkh Hallway — February 4, 2010 @ 1:53 pm

  3. Shelley’s fictional stories allow for taking the point of view of regretful, beauty focused characters who are image-driven. In both her stories, she uses characters who either have a beautiful facade and an unappealing inside, or a youthful appearance with age displaying through the character. They seem to learn a lesson at the end, or have a moral to the story. Shelley also tends to note issues of wealth and poverty in her narratives. Shelley’s novels are said to often be masked rewritings of her own life, as well as often include a sense of ‘meaninglessness of the world,’ for examples Winzy’s loss of reason to live in the ‘Mortal Immortal.’ Desirable passion driven characters act quick and make rash decisions that come from their selfishness and they end up ‘paying’ for it the rest of their lives. It’s quite an interesting approach.

    Comment by Lyndsay Downey — February 5, 2010 @ 3:59 am

  4. I found that Shelley’s short stories were very interesting to read. She makes the character very handsome and appealing on the outside and very ugly, greedy, and selfish on the inside. Which is very true in real life instances. Beauty is what counts on the inside. In both of Shelley’s stories, both characters figure this out in the end. The character who drinks the potion to stay young looking finally figures out that is really not what he wanted. When the other character is still in the dwarfs body, he realizes that this is really how he looks to people because of his ugly inside. He is horrified that the dwarf may marry his one true love. He finally realizes he must defeat the dwarf so get his body back but then also change his inside ways to keep her. My one question is, do both these characters regret the way they were before? This is interesting because many people may mirror themselves as beautiful, but if they are empty or ugly on the inside, that is what other people see.

    Comment by Michele Wisnewski — February 5, 2010 @ 5:31 pm

  5. Lyndsay I agree with your point on the ravaged beauty that Shelley portrays in her stories. One anomaly in her writing though would be the story of Frankenstein. I know we haven’t quite read this story yet but the way she portrays Frankenstein contradicts her previous stories. Main stream media portrays Frankenstein as a monster, as Shelley shows him as just a poor individual, distraught by the body the scientist created for him. But I guess I’m getting a little ahead of myself since we haven’t read that book in class yet.

    Comment by Eric Shrider — February 5, 2010 @ 5:36 pm

    • I wonder if Winzy is comparable to Dr. Frankenstein’s creature? Or if the narrator of “Transformation,” once he has been transformed into the dwarf, is also comparable? — All somewhat monstrous, all mainly misunderstood, all victims of one kind or another.

      Comment by Wayne Hall — February 5, 2010 @ 5:48 pm

  6. I found Shelley’s style of writing very interesting. Although most people consider her writing style to be generally gothic, I thought it was almost a combination of both the gothic style of writing and also a romantic style of writing. Obviously “The Mortal Immortal” was a story of a man in love willing to do anything for a girl, which made me see it as more of a romantic style of writing, than gothic; but I found a theme of love in her stories. It may not have been clear in some stories, and most of the time it went hand in hand with other themes such as selfishness. The main character in “Transformation” made a ridiculous agreement to switch bodies with a dwarf for gold, and the main character in “The Mortal Immortal” drank a potion because he wanted a woman that he could not have. Even in “Frankenstein,” Dr. Frankenstein is selfish enough to try and play God by creating life. That last one may be somewhat of a stretch, but I think I got my point across. Anyway, any feedback anyone has would be nice. Thanks!

    Comment by Jacob Shankland — February 6, 2010 @ 2:56 am

  7. Through reading several of Mary Shelley’s stories, it seems as if there are several recurring themes throughout her work. In some cases it appears that there are some ties between her personal life and her stories. She also writes alot about very unsightly characters and their struggle to find what they want most in life, for example in “Transformation”, we are able to see the struggle that Guido goes through when he wants something that he doesn’t have. It seems like many of her characters end up making poor decisions just to get what they think that they want.

    Comment by Amanda Holland — February 6, 2010 @ 2:58 am

  8. So far, I’ve enjoyed Shelley’s short stories the most. Mainly because the two stories which we read dealt with regret, vanity, and greed. In “Mortal Immortal” Winzy becomes trapped in his own body forever, and his own body becomes a prison. Wimzy’s soul became trapped which is why one should never try to alter fate. In Transformation Guido’s regret stems from blowing all of his inheritance and then becoming obsessed to get more wealth to win over Juliet. Not only was Guido obsessed with wealth, but he was arrogant and unsympathetic and had nothing good to offer to Juliet. As I read this story, I was actually happy when the dwarf tricked Guido, but ultimately it really didn’t matter. Guido would still continue on to be unhappy in life even when he returned to his normal form because he essentially didn’t learn anything from the transformation. “Transformation” proved, in my own mind, that there are more important things in life to worry about than wealth.

    Comment by Clayton Adams — February 6, 2010 @ 4:30 pm

  9. Mary Shelley’s short stories are definitely my favorite of all of our readings so far. Her style of writing and the way that she incorporates real problems that everyone faces with “not-so-real” situations. There are many different ways that you can view her stories and they raise a lot of discussion because every person can pick out different aspects of the story and show you a totally different way to look at it. I think that some of Shelley’s ideas came out of her personal life, making it easier to relate/understand her stories.

    Comment by Courtney French — February 6, 2010 @ 6:56 pm

  10. In Shelley’s short stories I found remarkable similarities with her classic novel Frankenstein. As one blogger has posted earlier, Shelley uses the ravaged beauty theme with her short stories. In Frankenstein, the monster is exactly the opposite of Winzy and Guido who are not as good on the inside as they look on the outside. Frakenstein’s monster is more of a gentle giant even though he is grotesque on the outside. In all her stories there is a sudden realization of one’s faults and purposes in life. For Winzy and Guido, the realization comes when they fear they are outcast by the people they cared about and hurt. For Victor Frankenstein, he realizes the horror he created. All the characters fall short of total redemption and must live their lives with immense guilt.

    Comment by Dan Strittholt — February 6, 2010 @ 7:02 pm

  11. I used the “Angle of Vision” exercise to look at Mary Shelley’s “Transformation”, and discovered that it helped me connect with the story. Guido spends a lot of time away from Genoa in Paris, France enjoying the social scene, and while he is there he becomes a very decadent individual with questionable morals. Guido’s transformation into the dwarf was the mechanism Shelley used to reform his morally repellent personality. By drawing the scene where Guido is observing the dwarf talk to his Juliet, it helped me to analyze his spiritual transformation. Previously he was unable to accurately self reflect, which resulted in a stunted moral growth. But the experience in the dwarf’s body enabled him to reflect on his actions, because while observing how the dwarf treated Juliet in a proper fashion he was able to contrast those actions with his former behavior. However, this spiritual transformation did not occur until after he returned to his own body. I believe what Shelley is showing is that sometimes to truly reflect on one’s own actions analyzing one’s behaviors while being “out of body” is necessary. This is what I think Guido ultimately was able to learn, and this helped him develop into a more caring person.

    Comment by Kirby Gallaway — February 7, 2010 @ 2:58 am

  12. I really enjoyed reading Shelley’s short stories. I thought they were an easy quick read but also very interesting and leave the reader feeling like they have learned a lesson. I think that in the “Transformation” story Winzy is depicted as a very handsome young man that many women would be attracted to but once figuring out that he is actually selfish and “ugly” on the inside they might not find him so attractive anymore. I think that story can be related to recent times too, where many girls go out looking for the “hottest” guy at the bar and then realize that even though this guy is really cute he does not have any good qualities that make him have a good personality. This can go for guys too where they go out looking for the cutest girl only to find that she may be a dude and “ugly” on the inside. I think that people should look for what’s on the inside rather that just superficial appearances in a person. In the story, Winzy realizes that he is “ugly” on the inside once he sees himself in the form of the ugly dwarf. He realizes that he needs to change his selfish behaviors and become a good person in order to get the love of his life back. I think that is many selfish people would take a step back and look at their actions, they would also realize like Winzy that they need to change for the better. If everyone did this, the world would be a much better place to live in.

    Comment by Alexandra Warner — February 7, 2010 @ 3:28 am

  13. I have found Shelly’s short stories to be the most intriguing and yet enigmatic works we have read as of yet! As written in a previous blog, Shelly likes to use beauty and aestheticism, both physically and psychologically, as a theme and direct focus to underlie an even greater idea or concept. Shelly’s point of view seems to deal with fantastic, outrageous, and magical tales all of which leave the reader with a sense of Shelly’s point of view. For example, in “Transformation” while Guido is handsome on the outside, his personality is corrupt and rotten. Yet as the story unfolds, the reader finds that only through extreme self-sacrifice and desperation does Guido change his ways. It is almost as if one can get an idea of who Shelly is as a writer and her personal beliefs (in terms of her morality), through the narrative point of view in her short stories! Another way to put it is to say the narrative point of view in Shelly’s stories leaves the reader with a better understanding of Shelly’s point of view, both as an author and human being. I really have enjoyed her works!

    Comment by David Roell — February 7, 2010 @ 4:43 am

  14. Thinking about comment number four, I began to wonder (considering the question as to whether or not Guido ever regretted his behavior), if he ever even overcame his obsession with looks and money, or if he realized that Juliet’s love was most important. In the end when he is constantly staring in the mirrors and wanting to be surrounded by them, I was somewhat confused as to how to take this. Was he appreciating what he had went through and overcome? Or was it just another obsession with himself and he didn’t really learn the lesson that was intended?

    Comment by Danielle Howard — February 7, 2010 @ 7:06 am

  15. I think it is interesting to note, as Mary Shelly is our first female author of the class, how she utilizes her female characters in both “Transformations” and “The Mortal Immortal” to further each story. When looking at the story “Transformations,” Juliet seems to function only as a symbol. She has no dialogue, no personality, and no character development. Instead Juliet seems to embody perfection; she encompasses everything good, and pure that Guido is not. He describes her as a: “Celestial beauty of that child of light and love.” Her character becomes this image of the unattainable, of light itself, she is the end goal that becomes the driving force not only of Guido, but also of the story. I can’t help but wonder, would Guido have been deceived by the dwarf if it wasn’t for his desire for Juliet?
    Bertha from “Transformations” did not seem as pure to me as Juliet was, but she did at least appear to be a character of substance. She is described as: “something of a coquette in manner … She slighted me in a thousand ways, yet would never acknowledge herself to be in the wrong. She would drive me mad with anger, and then force me to beg her pardon.” While these are not the most desired character traits, Bertha has much more of a personality than Juliet, and purposefully so. I believe that her vain nature serves to highlight the trials of the condition of immortality. She provides an interesting shift in frame of mind. In the beginning, she serves as the narrator’s unattainable desire. By the end of the story she has slipped from this high pedestal and is now yearning for his unattainable youth.

    Comment by Anna Worpenberg — February 7, 2010 @ 2:48 pm

  16. Shelley’s stories have been the most interesting to me so far. I think that they two stories “The Mortal Immortal” and “Transformations” are some what relatable for people today. I think that people are always fighting their inner or outer demons and these stories were some what of a representation of that. Guido had a fight of figuring out what is important in life, money, looks, or love. We see him do what he can for love by getting Juliet back, but in the end he is looking at himself in the mirror again. This makes me wonder if he really did fight back to get Juliet’s love or really just to get his body back. When referencing this to present day you an see how people still get overcome with the importance of money and looks over love. People fight within themselves to figure out what is important all the time because like these characters they do not realize what they want because money and looks become more important.

    Comment by Trisha McNeill — February 7, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

  17. I agree with comment 13. The Shelly short stroies are the most interesting stories that we have read in class so far. We can definitely get a strong understanding of the narrator’s point of view and the writting style of Shelly. In both stories she uses fantasy and beauty to teach the reader very important lessons. Dont be greedy or self absorbed, or you may loose the person whom you love and covet from the bottom of you heart. Another lesson to be taught is that one’s beauty comes from the inside out. In “Mortal Immortal” the main charater is in love with Bertha and does get to be with her untill the realization dawns on him that he will never die and will have to leave her when she dies, thus parting from his love and being stuck in his eternal grave without her. In “Transformation” the Guido loses his beloved Juliet because of his egocentric ways. Then the Guido takes the loss a step further and trades his body with the dwarf. At that point, the Guido is as ugly on the outside as he is on the inside. After the narrator forcefully takes back his beautiful body from the dwarf, he begins to change his ways. The Guido then becomes beautiful from the inside out and reclaims his love.

    Comment by Kristen Schwieterman — February 7, 2010 @ 4:46 pm

  18. Mary Shelley is considered a romantic gothic novelist; however, I think it is interesting that she attempts to portray this passion and romanticism through men’s POV. Being the first female author we have read from as mentioned above in the posts, I would have expected different. Maybe be having the passion felt through a woman’s (Bertha or Juliet) eyes would have made the reader feel more sympathetic to their situations. Instead, the women are just underdeveloped characters, which makes it hard as a female reader to see that romantic element. I feel like if they were more involved in the development of the story, I as a female would have been able to relate with their emotions, thus adding another strong element to the story. For example, there is no dialog in the scenes where the two woman are brought up therefore I had no insight on how they were feeling. As a female author I wouldn’t have expected these women to be portrayed as they were like “stuck-up” emotionless women. Just like how we discussed how a female narrator would have dramatically impacted how the story of The Murders in the Rue Morgue was portrayed, I believe this different view-point would have changed my feelings toward the romantic element of The Mortal Immortal and The Transformation.

    Comment by Kaitlin Lora — February 7, 2010 @ 10:07 pm

  19. Shelley’s stories have the same concept of being focused on beauty , with characters that are very conceded. In both stories, she uses the characters in the story to make a point. Also, in each story the characters learn a lesson at the end. In transformation Guido is very beautiful, but has an ugly inside. In mortal immortal the character gets very selfish and wants to find a cure for love, but ends up losing his love in the end. In both stories the main characters become very regretful of their actions. Guido makes a deal with the dwarf and becomes just as ugly inside as he was on the outside. In mortal immortal the main character drinks a potion that he thinks will cure his love, but he ends up living forever and growing apart from his wife.

    Comment by Jonathon Colyer — February 7, 2010 @ 11:46 pm

  20. I feel like in Shelley’s work she wants to show the reader where certain desires can lead. Not to say that it is bad to want things but it is bad to be consumed by want. She seems to want her reader’s to learn a lesson from her writing, she is not writing a story just for the sake of it. I can see where she is coming from, I think that in life we need a balance and we shouldn’t be consumed by our want for material things or it could ruin us.

    Comment by Nakita McIntire — February 8, 2010 @ 2:42 am

  21. To second both Jonathon and Nakita’s thoughts (Comments 19 and 20), I believe Mary Shelley writes to expose the material and shallow desires that even today’s readers encounter. She does this by challenging her charactors with decisions regarding tangible and nontangible elements. She does this to make readers realize that material things are far less important than love, beauty, and intellect. Although she writes about beauty, passion, and romatisism, Shelley’s reveals the ugly side of materialism by creating charactors that encounter struggle with it’s consequences.

    Comment by Hannah Wiggins — February 10, 2010 @ 1:48 am

  22. I agree that Shelley’s writing always seems to have a purpose along with a distinct lesson for the readers to pick up on. While many of the other authors we have learned about so far in this class have been intriguing and interesting, I have found Shelley to be very good. Beauty seems to be a common theme throughout her writings. I completely agreed with Comment 4 by Michele. Shelley makes the characters very interesting and easy to relate to in today’s society. The characters seem innocent and perfect on the outside, which they have dark and selfish sides that nobody else sees.

    Comment by Maria Hulgin — February 10, 2010 @ 8:39 pm

  23. I found the stories that Shelly wrote to be very interesting. Shelly seems to think a lot about life and death and about the idea of living a happy life. Her characters in the “Transformation” and the “Mortal Immortal” both try to do things that they think will make them happy and they always are tricked or have something go bad. It would seem the idea Shelly is making is that you should be happy with what you have and should make the most of the situation you are in. You should not try to become greedy because in the end you will lose. Guido messes up all the opportunities he has in his life in the “Transformation” and he almost loses everything including his body because of it. In the “Mortal Immortal” Winzy gets to be with the girl he wants but then has to watch her slowly die while he stays young. In both cases, Shelly tries to show lessons in life and how we all should try to live good lives.

    Comment by Michael Herrle — February 14, 2010 @ 3:52 pm

  24. I found comments 19, 20, and 21 thought provoking. I agree that Shelley is attempting to use her stories to show the dangers and complications of materialism, as the decisions the characters such as guido had to make. I agree with Hannah (21) that material possesions are far less important then love and intellect.

    Comment by Neil White — February 15, 2010 @ 12:19 am

  25. I would say that the Mortal Immortal was by far the most interesting story we’ve read in class. I love the way she turns people’s most sought desires around to become negatives. For example, Winzy drinking the potion which he hopes will turn his love away from Bertha but ultimately makes him fall more head over heels for her. Even though the potion helped him get the girl, it also made him immortal. This catch 22 is also very similiar to the Transformation. Shelly, with her stories, makes us think on what are the most important values one should have. She makes us look at the big picture and relates to the quote “Be careful what you wish for”.

    Comment by Mark Palmer — February 21, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

  26. I agree with Hannah as well(comment 21). Shelley has a way of twisting the characters wants and desires to prove a moral point. She seems to be particularly interested in using the fragility of each characters identity to play on their flaws. This was deliberate on her part to make it relate able; even today.

    Comment by jill blom — February 22, 2010 @ 11:43 pm

  27. A question that arises when reading Shelly’s “Mortal Immortal” is the psychology of death on the human condition. With the eventuality of death being a common experience among all humans, what would happen to someone’s mind, and there personal relationships if somehow death could be circumvented. After the knowledge of one owns immortality becomes apparent how long until the human condition, which is based so much on the fact that eventually we will perish, begins eroding away and what it means to be human?

    Comment by Chandler Dethy — February 27, 2010 @ 10:12 pm

  28. I would like to go back to this story Mortal Immortal and make corrections to my first assumption. In our class discussion of this class Mica and I were ‘arguing’ about this story and whether or not it was just mere coincidence that Agrippa was asleep when this elixer he has been working so hard on was completed. I was being the naive one saying that it was just a coincidence. But then I continued to think about it more and more, and even decided to use this story for my interpretive problem essay. This story turned out to be one of my favorites in the class and I didn’t like this feeling that something was missing. So I went back and re-read the story a second time. The conclusions I came up with were kind of shocking, but then I realized that Mica was right. In class discussion she was playing devils advocate; but that was unnecessary. It was so much easier to pick up on Agrippas intentions the second time around. In the first couple pages there were so many clues. So I want to retract what I had said in my first assumption.

    Lets go to the first page of the story, paragraph five. Here we have the narrator talking about this great Cornelius Agrippa and “his scholar, who, unawares, raised the foul fiend during his master’s absence, and was destroyed by him.” This to me was some foreshadowing referring to Winzy drinking and spilling the elixer, as well as his demise, not being rid of love from Bertha. Then the last line of that same paragraph states that “the dark spirits laughed at him for not being able to retain a single mortal in his service.” Now this leads me to question some of Agrippa’s motives. Was he looking for someone to stay with him long enough as to be able to have a ‘guinea pig’ to test out the product before he himself did?

    Move on into the next paragraph when we learn that Agrippa basically bribed Winzy with a purse filled with gold. Then skipping to page three when the reader realized that Agrippa basically captures Winzy from his normal life in order to have a constant assistant on this project. This brings me to believe that Agrippa had some ulterior motives; as in he wanted someone there for that very minute when the elixer would be ready. Agrippa probably knew in his head that he had a short window of time for his plan, or test if you will, to be successful. Therefore Agrippa must have known that the elixer was almost ready when he made the decision to stay up for three days and nights. That way he could be sleeping on the night it was complete. He probably already knew what he was going to tell Winzy about the elixer, having spent so much time with Winzy, Agrippa most likely knew the pain he was feeling. So he went ahead and told him that the elixer will cure him of his love for Bertha and to beware to drink. Those were two either very smart or very stupid things to say. They were smart because Agrippa knew that a desperate person will do anything to stop the pain, but stupid because if he really didn’t want Winzy to consume or drop the elixer, he wouldn’t have told him it would cure his love, and beware to drink.

    Everything Agrippa said to Winzy about the elixer was inviting. How could he possibly resist? This had to be a plan. There is no way that this was just a coincidence.

    Now I will leave the rest of this discussion up to the rest of my classmates. Anyone else feel this way?

    Comment by Maria Castrodale — February 27, 2010 @ 11:27 pm

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