For any author, the opening of a novel is probably one of the hardest things to write. They have to think about the audience, the language and how the introduction relates to the rest of the novel. They need to catch the readers’ attention and make them want to read on. It is vital they do this otherwise the reader may loose interest and not proceed to read the novel. In Frankenstein, Mary Shelly has an interesting yet curious and unusual opening, which is in fact a very clever and unique way of beginning a novel.
The novel begins with a series of letters written by a man named Robert Walton to his sister Margaret. He is on a trip to the Antarctic and is describing his journey to her. This opening initially confuses the reader who expects to read about Frankenstein but instead is introduced to an explorer called Robert Walton. It also leaves questions in the readers mind, e.g. who is Robert Walton? Where is Victor Frankenstein? How has this got any relevance to the rest of the story?
This is an extremely effective way to begin because Shelley has created a great multitude of unanswered questions in the reader’s mind, and the reader wants to know the answer to theses questions and therefore reads on.
As we read on through the letters, we notice traits in Walton that turn out to be similar to those of Frankenstein. They both had great ambitions, Frankenstein wanted to create life, Walton wanted to travel to the North Pole. In 1818, when the book was written, these were both things that were considered impossible.
Another similar trait was that when their ambitions started to go wrong, they both refused to take blame; they both blamed it on fate. Robert Walton says “those are fixed as fate.” This helps make the introduction affective because before we actually meet Frankenstein we get to see a similar character to him which gives us a general outline of what Frankenstein will...