When Mathilda is being courted by a young man, her father becomes violently jealous. He can't control his overwhelming passion -'My daughter, I love you' - and flees.
From being her God, her father becomes Mathilda’s nightmare: “infamy and guilt was mingled with my portion; unlawful and detestable passion has poured its poison into my ears and changed all my blood (in) a cold fountain of bitterness.”
Although sometimes too sentimental, Mathilda is a strong psychological portrait, brilliantly written by an intelligent and very well read author: 'more lovely than a sunbeam, slighter, quicker than the waving plumage of a bird, dazzling as lightning and like it giving day to night, yet mild and faint, that smile came.'
Between 1819 and 1820, Mary Shelley wrote Mathilda, her second novel following the classic Frankenstein.
The story is reminiscent of Shelley's own life, if not outright autobiographical, with characters resembling herself, her husband Percy Shelley, and her father William Godwin.
Mathilda is an often overlooked literary gem written in the classic Romantic style with Matilda on her deathbed telling her tale full of loss, incest, and suicide.