Structure of Frankenstein

Week 7

What did I do?

Class discussed Frankenstein‘s structure

It was made clear that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was written in ‘epistolary’ form – which we learnt meant that it was written as a series of letters – which creates an effect of suspended disbelief as it seems more factual. This made sense to me, as I had previously noticed that many well-known classical novels are written in such physical/factual formats and even implemented such an idea in my Extension 2 English major work.

We also acknowledged that the story was not written chronologically (in linear structure), rather it is conveyed as an embedded narrative with a ‘Chinese box structure’. This is revealed in the opening and closing of the story by Capatin Robert Walton, who then scribes Doctor Victor Frankenstein’s story, and within Frankenstein’s tale is the account of the Monster, heard by Frankenstein when they reunited for the first time. This means that there are three narrators within Frankenstein, with the Captain being the ultimate Gothic trope of the unreliable narrator.

Analysed the settings in the novel

We also looked at there being an external setting (Walter’s ship in the frozen Artic) and an internal setting (the places visited within Frankenstein’s). From this we then identified, in a table, the aspects of each of those settings that contribute to the meaning of the novel. Which involved finding textual references which described them from the narrator’s individual perspective and then reading into those desciptions to perseve the effect of that setting on Shelley’s protrayal of her story.




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