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What is Mary Shelly's writing style in Frankenstein?

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littlebubblebub | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted August 14, 2010 at 11:42 AM via web

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What is Mary Shelly's writing style in Frankenstein?

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monica45 | High School Teacher | Honors

Posted August 14, 2010 at 7:01 PM (Answer #1)

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Considering the structure of the narrative technique which was used by Mary Shelley in this novel, defining the writing style is rather complex.

The reasons are due to different factors:first the multiple and intense influences under which Mary Shelley grew and lived:she was the daughter of a famous journalist, radical thinker and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, and her father, William Godwin, was an important philosopher. Her revolutionary ideas were probably strengthened by her relationship with Percy Bysshe Shelley, one of the most outstanding voices of the English Romanticism, whose interests in science - chemistry - might have represented a further stimulus for Mary. The novel, as a matter of fact, contains several references to scientific ideas and theories, especially those developed by Galvani and E. Darwin (electricity and evolutionary principle). Her style is deeply affected by these influences as the language of some passages may show ( especially when she describes Victor's fervent study and commitment to his experiments, or when he attends university lectures of medicine in Ingolstadt).

The second reason of the complexity of her writing style is caused by the choice of creating three different narrators: Captain Walton, who writes some letters to her sister to inform her about his enterprise in finding a new passage into the North Pole, Victor Frankenstein who comes across Walton's crew while fleeing from his tragic destiny of death and destruction, finally the monster who tells the story from his own perspective. Not only this multiple narrating structure overlaps the chronological narration (the plot is obviously not linear), but it displays a variety of style which are associated with the main narrators: epistolary form for Walton, highly descriptive, rational, but intensely emotional in the parts which are told by Victor, tragic, moving and in a way violent those narrated by the monster. Finally her style is richy in vocabulary, highly descriptive, especially when she tries to depict the landscape, with its powerful and threatening aspect, often mirroring the characters' feelings.

 

 

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

Posted October 24, 2013 at 2:56 AM (Answer #2)

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Mary Shelley's writing style in Frankenstein is quite interesting. Outside of her beautifully eloquent language, Shelley's creative narrative point of view is so concise that many readers tend to forget that Robert Walton is the true singular narrator. Frankenstein is both a frame narrative and a story within a story (within a story). A frame story beings and ends in the same place. A story within a story (within a story) is seen through Walton's telling of Victor's telling of the Creature's story. Again, Shelley's point of view, by this point, is so well written that readers tend to forget that it is not the Creature, or even Victor, "speaking." 

As for Shelley's language, she proves her place in the Romantic genre as obvious. Her language, rich and elevated, is both beautiful and image ridden. Her inclusion of figurative language is not overdone (or overused) or haphazard. Each and every time she includes a simile or metaphor, it is concise and poignant. Shelley leaves enough to the imagination to allow her reader to frighten himself and herself through mental images stimulated through Shelley's appeal to the reader's senses. 

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