1. Who are the three narrators? How do their accounts of events fit together? There are three different narrators in Frankenstein, Shelly used a framing device and epistolary narration in Frankenstein in order to merge all three narrations together. A framing device is used when someone’s story is told by someone else who has read or been told the story. Epistolary narration is when a story is told through letters. Initially, Shelley introduces Walton’s point of view. We get his view of Victor and how he feels about Victor’s personality and actions. Then, we are introduced to Victor’s point of view. This allows us, to experience firsthand, Victor’s childhood, studies, opinions and reasons. Finally, the monster interrupts Victor’s narration and we get his point of view, leading up to his request for a companion. By incorporating three different narratives, the readers get to experience extreme opposite opinions of the same events, allowing us to form immense perspective of our own. Walton’s letters introduce and conclude the novel, reinforcing the issues and themes of the text. Whereas Victor’s and the monster’s narratives play on our emotions and serve as two opposing teams. We are drawn to both stories and we grow sympathy for both characters, during the novel we are stuck between who we feel sympathy towards. However, Walton’s letters teach us a lesson as he learns a lesson himself as he returns back to reality. Walton shows he may be similar to Victor and his monster, but ultimately, he is able to escape the cruel fate they couldn’t as his ethics draw him back to reality. 2. At times the novel reads like a documentary text. Why might have Mary Shelley wanted to create this documentary effect in her narrative? The monster is a scientific experiment; by setting the novel out like a formal documentation it adds realism as we feel as if we are watching a scientific experiment. By doing so, Shelley draws us to the science fiction side of her novel, rather than the horror 3. Research the meaning of this term; “gothic”. Find examples of other novelists who wrote in this way and other novels. Explain their common features. Gothic: a literary style popular during the end of the 18th century and the beginning of the 19th. This style usually portrayed fantastic tales dealing with horror, despair, the grotesque and other “dark” subjects. Gothic literature was named for the apparent influence of the dark gothic architecture of the period on the genre. Also, many of these Gothic tales took places in such “gothic” surroundings. Other times, this story of darkness may occur in a more everyday setting, such as the quaint house where the man goes mad from the "beating" of his guilt in Edgar Allan Poe's “The Tell-Tale Heart.” In essence, these stories were romances, largely due to their love of the imaginary over the logical, and were told from many different points of view. This literature gave birth to various other forms, such as suspense, ghost stories, horror, mystery, and also Poe's detective stories. Gothic literature wasn't as different from other genres in form as it was in content and its focus on the "weird" aspects of life. This movement began to slowly open many people's eyes to the possible uses of the supernatural in literature Novel and author
Relation to Frankenstein
Dracula by Bram Stoker
Dracula shares similarity with Frankenstein through its themes of death and decay, fear, the supernatural. Also the idea of passion/irrationality over reason and rational thought and behaviour relates it to Frankenstein
4. Explain why Frankenstein might be considered science fiction? Science fiction is renowned for featuring strong commentary on the present day by taking things out of context, frequently by inventing things that have not yet happened (in futuristic works), changing the circumstances of the extant past (in alternate history, amongst other things), or by placing something into the present that does not already exist and cannot be expected to occur. Even though "Frankenstein" is horrific, it is not all about horror: most of "Frankenstein" deals with the amount of control that should exercise and the extent to which social boundaries should be pushed by scientists. The novel was written in 1818. At that time society was over hopeful of science. The quest of knowledge was one of the most essential aspects of that time. Scientists thought that there was nothing that Science could not explain, nor was there anything that should stand in the way of discovery. "Frankenstein" was written as a strong, powerful rebuke to this deterministic, valueless approach to discovery. Doctor Frankenstein, of his own decision, shattered the tranquillity of the dead and their assurance that, being dead, they would rest in peace. Science learnt something new and became aware of a power that it did not know that it had, but was this necessary? Was finding previously non-extant ability worth destroying the serenity of Death? According to Mary Shelley, it was not. Therefore, she wrote a book that took matters out of context to put current affairs in perspective. Mary Shelley, questioned the thoughtless development of modern science through her book Frankenstein and that is what makes Frankenstein science fiction. 5. Which characters have become stereotypical figures in other examples of the “science fictions” genre? Character
“Mad scientist”; Victor becomes “mad” with his power to create, thus creating a man who resembles the very essence of evil-himself. By trying to become God, Victor created what he called a “monster”, but to the readers, it is questioned that Victor himself was the monster Monster
Social outcast; The monster is an individual that is socially isolated, misunderstood by society, who want to be accepted, yet use the wrong methods. Robert Walton
Wallflower, giver of truth; through Walton, we are given the outsiders opinion, who has observed the story, Walton somehow makes us realises both Victor and the monster deserve no sympathy and are both to blame Elizabeth
The gentle, loving, motherly figure; Elizabeth takes on the role of the care taker, who is frequently left and abused because she is too kind. Elizabeth is the mother who cares for the child no matter what, even when this child has hurt her, or in this case, killed her. Alphonse Frankenstein
The over-controlling, but never pleased father; Alphonse is the father who strives to control every aspect of his children’s lives because he wants them to succeed, though to us this act is selfish and usually leads to the son/daughter rebelling and this generally causes utter chaos.
Define these terms:
Romantic Movement: The movement validated intense emotion as an authentic source of aesthetic experience, placing new emphasis on such emotions as apprehension, horror and terror, and awe—especially that which is experienced in confronting the sublimity of untamed nature and its picturesque qualities: both new aesthetic categories. It argued for a "natural" epistemology of human activities, as conditioned by nature in the form of language and customary usage. How does this relate to Frankenstein?
The period in which Frankenstein was composed relates to Romanticism as this period was the birth of this idea. The book is scientific and rational in thought, while at the same, it time captures and represents the thoughtless and emotion packed activities of humans in situations. Hence, Frankenstein expresses the very essence of romanticism through the themes and issues present within the novel. For instance, emotions such as sorrow, love, horror, ambition, passion, etc are detailed through language within the book. Basically, Victor represents the logic, science and rational thinking, where-as the monster represents emotion, irrational thinking and ironically the nature of humanity. Consequently, the two protagonist, together highlight Romanticism in the novel. Enlightenment: Enlightenment was a movement of the late 17th and 18th centuries. Basically, enlightenment was a way of discovering new ways of thinking and being, it challenged traditions and welcomed individualism instead. Enlightenment could be spiritually, mentally, physically or even environmentally. How does this relate to Frankenstein? Victor Frankenstein’s character resembles enlightenment as he is a scientist, Victor found enlightenment in the scientific conception of knowledge, he wanted truth through math and evidence, oppose from God and religion. However, he is pulled from nature and ultimately becomes a slave to his own creation and enlightenment. Enlightenment in Frankenstein is evident in the monster, Victor may have gave the monster life, but he does not teach him how to live. In the scene where the monster is learning the fundamentals of life, Shelley represents primitive life, like a child taking its first steps. Here, enlightenment is shown as the monster is attempting to belong, to change and to challenge his creator’s opinion of him being a monster. Enlightenment is also shown through the symbols of fire and light. The monster discovers fire, thus creating light, this represents the reader’s optimism for hope and freedom for the creature as he has found elements of human life.