ETTV 2: Literary Analysis
Wednesday (16:00): Kwinten Van de Walle
The Deeper Meaning of Focalisation in Richard Mathesons's I Am Legend
Robert Matheson's novel I am Legend narrates the struggle for life of Robert Neville as he is the only human left in a dangerous world where the rest of humanity has changed into bloodthirsty vampires. The plot of the story may seem quite straightforward, but a re-reading and a deeper analysis of the novel shows Matheson's wit as writer. In my essay I will discuss how the use of fixed internal focalisation in the novel makes this novel outstanding in the genre of horror and science fiction. On the level of the superficial the use of the fixed internal focalisation can be explained quite simple. Fixed focalisation means that all the events in the story are perceived through one character, in this case Robert Neville. In the novel the protagonist is portrayed as a lonely, isolated individual who attempts to survive in a threatening world ( Clasen 316 ). The use of fixed internal focalisation on Robert Neville highlights the themes of isolation and loneliness throughout the novel. On a deeper level the fixed internal focalisation is used to create an atmosphere of empathy towards Robert Neville (Clasen 316). He is portrayed in an introspective way. All the information about the world he lives in is told from his point of view. He describes the vampires as unintelligent monsters who have only one goal, to haunt for his blood . If they do not succeed, they drag themselves back to their shelters. Because only Robert Neville's point of view is told, one may easily make a superficial distinction between Robert Neville as the hero of the story and the vampires as the evil antagonists. This atmosphere of empathy begins to fade away at one critical point in the novel. The moment where Robert Neville meets Ruth, of whom he thinks is another normal living being as he is, but in fact is sent to spy on him. She...
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