Separation Between the Narration in Response to Frankenstein

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In reading Frankenstein, by Mary Shelly, a motif of distance and separateness can be discerned from the text. In the structure of the narrative, the reader is distant from the action. The setting of the narrative is situated often in isolated and nearly inaccessible areas, creating separateness between the action of the story and the everyday world. The Frankenstein monster is remote compared to the rest of world by narrative structure, geographic area, and his namelessness.

The reader must look through several lenses throughout the novel. The letters that begin the book are addressed to Mrs. Saville from Robert Walton. So already in the beginning, the reader is asked to participate in voyeurism, looking in on a world through letters not addressed to the reader. Walton speaks openly about his travels and aspirations and only happens to stumble across Victor Frankenstein who is the second lens of the narrative telescope Shelly has us look through.

The structure remains the same even with the change in narrative voice. There seems to be a strange phenomena in this device, the reader is kept close to the story through the first person narration swapping from Walton to Victor, but becomes more distant from the truth of the story much like gossip or the telephone game. Rather then Walton relaying what Victor Frankenstein has told him, the narrative voice is completely given over to Victor. This begins chapter one of the novel.

The next nine chapters belong to Victor with the exception of letters written from Geneva. In chapter ten the narration splits between Victor and his monster. This transitional chapter brings the reader to yet another lens to look through as the same structure gives way to a voice of the “I” of the monst...

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...Geneva with Percy and Byron. She was in her own way nameless as well; she had the same name as her mother. The distance from the reader to the Frankenstein monster is Mary Shelly’s distance from humanity and, more specifically her creators, her estranged father and dead mother.

The distance in the novel is created through the first person structure being passed from voice to voice in a telescopic effect so that by the time the reader is able to approach the monster it is through at least two interpretations. The places of action in the novel are separate from average places humanity exists. The namelessness of the monster distances it from an understanding by the rest of humanity. The narrative does stay first person, so as we pass through the different lenses, Shelly is able to hold our hand as she tells a story of the Frankenstein monster and a bit of herself.

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