"The Parvenue" is told in first person by a narrator named Fanny. She begins by explaining that she has been so bewildered by the events she is about to retell that she leaves it to the reader to judge her actions. The money troubles that plague the narrator's family and their constant demands on Lord Reginald mirror in some ways Mary's relationship with her father in her adult life. William Godwin reportedly requested money often from the Shelleys. (courtesy of mary-shelley-wikia.com)
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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Jazzybee Verlag Jürgen Beck
86450 Altenmünster, Loschberg 9
Why do I write my melancholy story? Is it as a lesson, to prevent any other from wishing to rise to rank superior to that in which they are born! No! miserable as I am, others might have been happy, I doubt not, in my position: the chalice has been poisoned for me alone! Am I evil-minded — am I wicked? What have been my errors, that I am now an outcast and wretched? I will tell my story — let others judge me; my mind is bewildered, I cannot judge myself.
My father was land steward to a wealthy nobleman. He married young, and had several children. He then lost his wife, and remained fifteen years a widower, when he married again a young girl, the daughter of a clergyman, who died, leaving a numerous offspring in extreme poverty. My maternal grandfather had been a man of sensibility and genius; my mother inherited many of his endowments. She was an angel on earth; all her works were charity, all her thoughts were love.
Within a year after her marriage, she gave birth to twins — I and my sister; soon after she fell into ill-health, and from that time was always weakly. She could endure no fatigue, and seldom moved from her chair. I see her now; — her white, delicate hands employed in needlework, her soft, love-lighted eyes fixed on me. I was still a child when my father fell into trouble, and we removed from the part of the country where we had hitherto lived, and went to a distant village, where we rented a cottage, with a little land adjoining. "We were poor, and all the family assisted each other. My elder half-sisters were strong, industrious, rustic young women, and submitted to a life of labour with great cheerfulness. My father held the plough, my half-brothers worked in the barns; all was toil, yet all seemed enjoyment.
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