So the Williams essay was about what?? I can't say I understood more than five sentences in the whole thing and I actually fell asleep the first time I tried to read it. I think the main gist of it was that culture and society changes, and with these changes comes changes to the canon and all literature. Other than that, I was completely lost.
Mary Shelley's letters, however, were the best thing I have read so far this semester. I just think it's amazing to read the personal words of someone from so long ago - the words to the friends they held dearest. You can get no closer look at the society of the time than through such letters, because they are unbiased in that they were never intended to be published.
In relation to the Williams essay, Shelley obviously went through a lot of changes over the course of the published letters. In the first letters to Percy Shelley she sounds so ridiculously in love you think she might explode. She misses him every second he is gone and is not afraid to admit it. Then we get to read the saddest letter ever. I was really moved reading this because it is hard to relate to anyone famous as having a personal tragedy, because you always think they are untouchable. But poor Mary Shelley lost her husband, her love, her life. I wanted to just go give her a hug and tell her everything would be ok.
I don't really know how to apply any critical lens to this since it is not a "work" officially. In fact I think it might be a little too much to try and criticize someone's personal letters. I don't think she ever said as she was writing the letters, "what would a ____ critic think of this?" All she did was right what her heart felt, and how can that be so analyzed?