Shelley uses multiple narrators, nested and frame narratives and an epistolary style to tell the story of Frankenstein. Comment on the effect of these and why she may have done this.Mary Shelly’s novel “Frankenstein” was written in 1818.
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The book starts with the letters from Robert Walton describing his voyage to the North Pole and his sighting of an ill man, who Walton later nurses back to health "A man in wretched condition" pg.11. After a recovery, the stranger, Victor Frankenstein, tells him the story of his life. The letters set up the novel and create suspicion due to the reader not knowing what the significance of these letters is. However, Walton is the first of the characters that tells his story, which gives the reader an advantage to conclude for himself about his opinion towards the different characters. This device, frame narrative, establishes a complex layer of stories, hence, the reader listens to Victors story, so does Walton, and Walton’s sister to him.
Throughout the story, Victor occasionally interrupts and addresses Walton directly, or when Walton signs the letters he is sending off to his sister. These are the first encounters with the different language devices that Mary Shelly uses to create more depth in addition to a different structure to other books. Moreover, the reader is compelled to give more attention to the book, in order to understand the plot, and have an own opinion about the different situations in the book.
Furthermore, the letters also display the similarity between Walton and Victor, since they both seek to discover and complete objectives for the world. For example Walton describes how it will benefit the entire human race “Inestimable benefit on all mankind to the last generation" (pg.16
Walton) and Victor states that it will reveal the greatest power in the world "pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation" (pg.49 Victor). The ambition to figure out the answer drives them both to their death and that of other innocent lives, demonstrating how the pursuit to solve such mysteries, with desire and determination, can result differently than one’s expectations.
On the other hand the letters also surface the resemblance between other characters. Walton and the creation, Frankenstein, both present their loneliness and their wish to find a friend to share their stories. The isolation and loneliness in the novel is one of the most significant themes, which are presented throughout the form of epistolary. In the opening of the letters Walton expresses his lonesomeness "I shall commit my thoughts to paper, it is true; but that is a poor medium for the communication of feeling.
I desire the company of a man who could sympathize with me, whose eyes would reply to mine. You may deem me romantic, my dear sister, but I bitterly feel the want of a friend" (Shelley 10). This is one of the first encounters with the theme, but later on this suffering repeats itself with the creation, Frankenstein, 'When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, the, a monster, a blot upon the earth from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?'"
Chap. 13 pg. 105 The most appropriate reason why Mary Shelly would come to such a structure, would be to show the similarity between a normal human and a creature, also known as a monster, and matching hopes of not resulting abandoned. Mary Shelly questions here if humans and monster share a similarity, and if the humans can also posses these qualities of monsters. This insight to the emotions and perspectives of the characters, establishes an insight for the reader to their feelings and deeper thoughts, as well as a bond between the reader and character. Mary shelly motivates the reader to develop a personal opinion about these characters and the entire story and to judge whether or no the creature is a monster or simply misunderstood.
Frankenstein has a very creative structure that helps create a meaningful effect on the reader, and compelling story. This form of frame narration, multiple different perspectives, provides us with the opportunity to develop our own opinion towards the characters and their actions. Not only opinions are formed, but we also come to realize that creatures and humans, in this novel, share certain similarities. These can be interpreted that us humans have traits, similar to monsters, or the other way around. Overall, the novel has effects that cannot be established if the form of epistolary would have not been applied
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