For the Romantic period, lightning was the spirit of the age. Yet it was so in perils no less than in promise, radiating its charges unpredictably. The first channel in this essay tracks the vagaries of domestic science that play a part in boyhoods in the wake of Benjamin Franklin’s theater of electric experiment. I then turn to the Byronized Shakespearean stage and the Byronic interplays with which Mary Shelley works the lightning bond of Victor Fran-kenstein and his Creature. I conclude with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s devoted idealism in the climate of Byronic theatrics. All these scenes contend with lightning’s contradictory shocks and subtly modal powers of destruction and restoration, its agency for dazzling illumination and murkier critical reflections.


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pp. 751-786
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