I have just gotten my Frankenstein novel by Mary Shelley and I was very eager to begin reading but I find that it is very difficult to get into. The writing style is not usually how I read, and I would like some help with what is going on in the novel. I will check back in every so often to see new posts and to tell how far I have gotten and ask questions if I don't understand something.
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It will be interesting to see what specific questions you have as you go. Basically, you need to understand that the novel begins with these letters from Robert Walton (English explorer in the Arctic) to his sister. These letters sort of lay the foundation for what is going to happen next. We are seeing the end of the story here at the beginning of the book. After the letters, we will go back in time and find out what led to this ending.
I found my first reading of Frankenstein a tough read, especially the first half of the novel. It will get better and more exciting, so hang in there. It's a classic, and I'm sure you'll feel the reward upon completion.
It may help to get an unabridged audio version of the text for i-pod. I had a version on cassette tape which was useful with the creature's parts. Also, I fiind reading such a challenging text in short bursts: 20-40 mins maximum, then writing down a line or two about what you have learnt can help with the study of such a text.
It often helps to read summaries of a chapter before reading the actual chapter. I know that this opinion is considered heresy in some circles, but it often helps to know what is going on before you try to read. If you are familiar with the basic plot of a chapter before you start reading, you are actually more likely to notice more valuable details as you read.
Great novel, and I think you find that as you begin reading you will get used to the style and the language that is used. What is important to realise first up is that a framing narrative is employed which starts off with the story of Robert Walton, who is trying to find passage to the North Pole by ship. We start off with his story, and the narrative only shifts to the tale of Victor Frankenstein when Walton picks him up on an iceberg.
I really love Frankenstein, however, I find Walton's letters at the start really dry. Shelley praises the "landscapes" of what the captain sees, but we also get the sense of his obsessive behavior, which is probably the most important element of the letters...so we can draw a parallel with the way Victor acts in creating the creature. Later we see Robert Walton's willingness to sacrifice his crew for his dream, the way Victor was willing to sacrifice the safety of his family and society by releasing his creature on the world, failing to assume his responsibility. If you can scan through the letters, I think the story itself becomes much more interesting.
If you review the story's themes before you read, this information might be beneficial in helping you to understand what drives the story. I would also make sure to put yourself in the creature's place to better understand his motivations. It makes the story much more interesting when we realize that we're not quite sure who the real monster in the story is.
Ditto to #6's suggestion of reading a summary of the chapters beforehand so that you can more easily focus upon the beauty and style of the prose. It also is helpful to understand Mary Shelley's motives for writing the novel. Do not hesitate to avail yourself of Enotes's summaries, character analyses, etc.
Frankenstein is truly an interesting and well-written classic. It is one of those "frigates" of which Emily Dicksinso writes of books that carry you to new lands!
I would agree that it may seem a tad boring at the beginning and you should keep reading merely for the experience of reading such a famous classic. However, I would like to warn you that "the writing style" in Frankenstein probably won't ever end up being like what you're used to reading. Respectfully, I have to criticize Shelley and say that there are numerous plot holes throughout the story and often, she just throws in random details or plot lines without any earlier preparation. Additionally, there are a lot of unrealistic details (and not in a "that's the fun of science fiction" kind of way, but in an irritatingly impossible kind of way). Also, there are times where the story starts to get quite intense, even terrifying, but then Shelley, in keeping with her poor writing, quickly moves the story elsewhere. Of course, one could argue that the very idea of how the monster is formed is quite scary, which is true. However, the scary part of all that is actually Dr. Frankenstein, the supposed protagonist, not the Monster. In short, I would have to say that the only reason Mary Shelley's Frankenstein won the "scariest story contest" among her husband and friends is by default. I assure you, if the others had entered anything into the contest, it would have been better than Shelley's entire novel. I do however respect Shelley for writing a story that has stayed famous for so long and for kicking of the literature genre of science fiction.
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