Frankenstein: structure of the novel

A    Time

    Starts almost at the end and then presented in flashbacks with change of narrator. At the end the three narrators are united.

    Effect of this technique is to show the influence of the past on the present. Victor and the monster inseparable. Both guilt ridden.

    Chinese box narration – a story within a story –within a story – many levels and three different viewpoints therefore sympathy / allegiance of reader changes with the narrator.


B    Contrasts

    Indoor / outdoor settings. Characters occupy enclosed spaces: workshop, hut, cabin, Walton’s cabin, Justine’s barn…symbols of mental imprisonment as well.

    Then characters are seen as travelling across vast expanses, distances – symbolise their separation from other beings.


C    Journeys

    Story moves in cycles; characters separate, meet up, separate again…


D    Parallels

    Many of the chapters mirror each other:

1 and 11 concerned with the childhoods of Victor and the monster

2 and 12 focus on the curious minds of Victor and the monster

8 and 21 Victor finds himself in the same position as Justine

5 and 20 show the difference in attitude of Victor towards creating the two creatures

9 and 18 reveal Victor’s solitude, self-absorption and guilt

18 and 23 two female companions are destroyed but the tables are turned

12 and 16 show how the monster’s bright hopes have turned to dark despair and revenge

2 and 24 show how the Victor’s bright hopes have turned to dark despair and revenge

    Shelley uses this device to show either how the characters have been changed by the events or how the characters have not changed but are faced with a different situation.


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