Narrative Structure of 'Frankenstein' Essay

Decent Essays
“In Frankenstein, the narratives seem to grow organically from one another: it is impossible to extricate the narratives from one another, as they are so closely linked and interwoven.”

Discuss the novel’s shifts in narrative perspective. What is the effect of presenting different character’s viewpoints, especially those of Victor and the monster?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein has a very complex narrative structure: “the narratives seem to grow organically from one another”. Within the novel, Shelley weaves characters and their different narrative perspectives together, creating a cyclical, triplicate layout to the story. Her use of multiple narratives provides a range of perspectives on the story, allowing us insights to the
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Therefore Frankenstein’s narrative is unreliable – Walton and Victor are both biased, thus leaving the novel open to interpretation. Indeed, Walton sees Victor as a “divine wanderer” leading us to believe that he does not see the full picture.

Despite this, Shelley creates a natural flow throughout, yet there is a clear distinction between each changing perspective. For example, the narrative seamlessly switches from Walton’s letters to Victor’s account: “Strange and harrowing must be his story… thus!” Through Victor’s story, she moves us on to the creature’s direct dialogue by using speech marks at the beginning of each paragraph: “he thus begins his tale.”

Frankenstein and Walton’s narratives are remarkably similar in style, making it almost “impossible to extricate the narratives from one another.” Even Shelley’s choice of language draws parallels between the two: for example, her use of the words “gigantic structure” and “wretched” in Walton’s first description of Frankenstein, which Victor subsequently uses in referring to his creation. Many critics have even gone so far as to say that Walton is Victor’s doppelgänger – his clone in every way. However, there are distinct differences in diction between the two: Frankenstein being the more eloquent of the pair, as Walton freely admits: “Now I am twenty-eight and am in reality more illiterate than many schoolboys of fifteen.”

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