Date of Award


Degree Type




First Advisor

Dyer, Gary

Subject Headings

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851 -- Criticism and interpretation, Fuseli, Henry, 1741-1825 -- Criticism and interpretation, English literature -- 18th century -- History and criticism, Frankenstein's monster (Fictitious character), Incubi in literature, Nightmares in literature, Mary Shelley demons Incubus Henry Fuseli John Waller Frankenstein


The image and behavior of Shelley's infamous creature is similar to that of the mythical Incubus demon. By presenting Victor's hideous progeny as a reproduction of the Incubus myth, Shelley seems to provide her nineteenth-century reader with the image of demons, who for many, already haunted their nightmares. Shelley would likely have been familiar with the Incubus myth. Her fascination with her dead mother led her to the artist Henry Fuseli, whose painting "The Nightmare" depicts the Incubus Demon. Shelley wrote during a time in which medical scholars such as Dr. Bond and Dr. Waller explored a malady that they named after the demon-lover legend. Shelley often depicts her creature, standing over and suffocating his sleeping victim in the same manner as the Incubus demon. This subtle allusion to the Incubus myth indicates that Shelley's nineteenth-century reader was well versed in the demon lover tradition