How Does Frankenstein Benefit from Walton as a Narrator?

955 WordsApr 14, 20134 Pages
How does the novel Frankenstein benefit from Walton as a narrator? By Alex Hewitt The beginning and ending of the novel Frankenstein are written in epistolary form as a series of letters from Robert Walton, to his sister. The letters are unusual as they contain very little information about Walton’s sister and mostly detail Walton’s exploits in exploring the Arctic in search of the North-West Passage, in this way resembling journal entries instead of letters. While Walton spends many pages explaining his adventures in a “land surpassing in wonders and beauty,” the few questions asked to his sister are either rhetorical such as “do you understand this feeling?” which is also condescending, snidely suggesting his sisters incapacity to…show more content…
As well as this, as noted by Nora Cook in A Companion to the Gothic, the combination of the above with the confusing circumstances as the actual writing of the novel such as if Walton made it home, did his sister edit his letter and who added the finishing touches such as “17-?” As Cook states, “there can be no answers to these questions and the reader is never sure whether these are the proper ones to ask.” These stacked layers of unreliable narration mean the novel can be the multi-faceted novel that it has become. On learning that Shelley’s original intention was for the novel to be a word of mouth ghost story, starting with the lines “it was a dreary night in November” that changed over time, a conclusion can be reached that the use of unreliable narration is important because it leaves the novel up for interpretation on a number of features and with numerous possible meanings. For example it could be seen as anything from an exploration of Shelley’s post-natal depression to a warning against the dangers of aggressive science and ambition, a classic gothic novel to the first science fiction novel ever written, a massive religious analogy or the importance of appearance. When the reader is bogged down with so many layers of potential lies, when they will never know if what they are

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