This essay is about oceans in one of Mary Shelley’s non-canonical works, Maurice, or the Fisher’s Cot: A Tale (1820), and the relatedness of humans to their ocean environments; it’s also about Shelley’s representations of those rich and diverse life-forms that populate the edge between sea and land-mass and within what ecologists refer to as an “ecotone.” By characterising the ocean as an ecotone in Maurice, Shelley makes explicit a more eco-conscious way of understanding the nature/culture dichotomy and in terms that directly involve the shifting boundaries between land and sea, saltwater and freshwater, human and animal. This English Romantic novelist stresses the mutual interconnections among these seemingly disparate entities to show how they live and thrive in a horizontal relation to one another. Maurice, I argue, fosters an ethic of ecological care and a resistance to the economic forms of exchange that alienate humans from the natural world, and contributes usefully to the burgeoning field of oceanic studies.
Oceans and Ecotones in Mary Shelley’s Maurice, or the Fisher’s Cot.
Landscapes: the Journal of the International Centre for Landscape and Language, 7(1).
Retrieved from http://ro.ecu.edu.au/landscapes/vol7/iss1/23