In Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and in the Romantic age more generally, monstrosity came to be conceived as an excess of vitality. Exactly what life was, however, was a matter of intense debate.
Denise Gigante teaches literature in the Department of English at Stanford University. She has published several books on the Romantic period, including Life: Organic Form and Romanticism (Yale University Press, 2009), which has a chapter on the poetry of Mary Shelley’s husband Percy Bysshe Shelley in the context of contemporary life science. For her argument about the nature of ugliness in Frankenstein, see “Facing the Ugly: The Case of Frankenstein” in English Literary History (2000).