Who is the narrator of "Frankenstein" and what is its significance?
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There are three different narratives in Frankenstein. Shelley, the author, uses something calling a "framing device" and "epistolary" narration. A framing device is used when a someone's story is told through someone who reads it or hears it (an objective person) (eNotes). Epistolary narration is when a story is told through letters.
First, Shelley introduces Walton's point of view. We get his view of Victor and how he feels about Victor's personality and actions. Secondly, we're introduced to Victor's point of view. We get, first hand, to hear about his childhood and studies, etc. Finally, the creature interrupts Victor's narration and we get its point of view, leading up to its request for a companion (eNotes).
This is important because we get 3 different looks into the same story. The three perspectives allow us to form our own opinions about the story. Also, eNotes points out that "by incorporating three different narratives, that readers get to hear all sides of the story. Walton's letters introduce and conclude the novel, reinforcing the theme of nurturing" (eNotes).
There are three different narrators in "Frankenstein". The effect of this method of storytelling is that the reader is provided with an understanding of events from multiple points of view.
The first narrator introduced is Robert Walton, who, as a neutral party is able to give the reader a sense of objectivity and reliability. The author, Mary Shelley, uses a device called "epistolary form", in which Walton relates what has happened through a series of letters written to his sister. Walton's letters appear at the beginning and the end of the narrative, framing the main body of the story which is told by Victor Frankenstein and the monster.
Victor Frankenstein is the second narrator presented in the book. He gives us background on his own childhood and upbringing, and the events which led to his fateful creation of the monster. The monster himself then interrupts Victor's narrative to tell his own story, after which Victor once again resumes the tale, describing what transpires until the very end, when the narrative is returned to Walton, who provides the conclusion.
There are actually three narrators in the novel. Walton begins and ends the novel by corresponding with his sister through letters. This is known as the "epistolary form" in which letters are used to tell the story. Walton introduces Frankenstein and his creature through his letters to his sister, creating suspense by using Victor's word "demon" to describe the creature. Walton is an objective narrator of both Frankenstein and the creature. Victor Frankenstein then picks up the story, telling the reader about his childhood up until he attends the university. The creature then begins his narration, and the reader is able to learn the thoughts and feelings of the creature to the point where he asks for a mate to rescue him from his loneliness and isolation in a world that abhors and abuses him. Shelley is allowing the reader to judge the story by providing the three different points of view. Do you sympathize with Victor or his creature of both of them? Shelley allows you to make that decision for yourself.
The story of Victor and his creation is told within a frame narration. A frame narration is a story within a story.
When the novel begins the reader is introduced to Robert Walton, a failed writer turned explorer. As Robert is writing to his sister about his adventures in searching for the North Pole, the Robert and the audience meet Victor.
Victor then tell Robert his story about how he ended up in the North Pole. The reader learns of his creature, Victor's past --essentially the story of Frankenstein.
There is a twist however, while Victor is telling his story Robert, he then begins telling the creature's side of the story. In telling the creature's side of the story to Robert, Robert is able to relay it the reader in the letter he is writing to Margaret, his sister.
The significane of this frame narration is the parallels that form between the characters. For instance, Robert Walton shows loneliness and a need of a friend, this same feeling essentially is what drives the creature to his destructive behavior; a need for a mate. Walton also parallels Victor in his love of science and adventure. Walton, the first narrator, is the halfway point, as far as characterization is concerned between Victor and his creature.
Frankenstein is what is called a frame novel. The novel is framed by letters and personal narratives. Therefore, there is no single narrator. The change in narrator signifies whose perspective of the story we are reading. These shifts in point of view give meaningful insight on the motives and mentality of the narrator in question.
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