Thursday, September 15, 2011

Blog #1 - Frankenstein Part 1

Mary Shelly’s novel ‘Frankenstein’ maybe a story about Frankenstein and the monster but the way it is presented can almost be called a biased review of the story. When we look through the layers of what we’re reading, we realize that we are reading multiple frame stories. Walton is the main narrator of the story who is narrating Frankenstein’s story of the monster’s story. So by the time the story goes two frame stories deep, there is a lot of bias when being presented to us. There are several reasons why the narrative of Walton’s cannot be trusted to be the true objective point of the story. One of which is the environment in which he is in and the time frame at which he records down the story and another is his seeming infatuation to Frankenstein himself.

The fact that Walton is the captain of the ship and states that he listens to the story in his free time and writes down what he hears later at night is a key point in indicating the loss of some facts in the transition period. Walton being a ship captain has many things on his mind and is very busy during the day. In that busy-ness, he listens to Frankenstein’s story in whatever free time he has and may later go back to his chores. So by the time he sits down in front of his desk at night and starts writing down what he heard, he can forget quite a few of what he heard and also, since his brain has had the time to process the story, it could ‘falsify’ what he heard by making him believe that his interpretation of the story is what Frankenstein told him. The interpretation of the story doesn’t stop at Frankenstein’s level. When Frankenstein starts telling Walton the monster’s story, the facts could get clouded there again. At this point when Walton writes down the monster’s part of the story, it could actually be Walton’s interpretation of Frankenstein’s interpretation of the monster’s story. So we can’t trust the narrative for this fact that we don’t know if the story is Walton’s interpretation of what he heard or really what Frankenstein told him.

Another reason why we can’t trust Walton’s narrative of the story is his blaringly obvious infatuation of Victor. By his own emotional state described in his letters to his sister, he recalls the day when he started hearing the story by saying “his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness; I see his thin hand raised in animation, while the lineaments of his face irradiated by the soul within” (Shelley, 20). As can be clearly seen by the description of Frankenstein that Walton painted for us, Walton was more focused of the ‘beauty’ of Frankenstein than was he on the story. Walton, if we can go as far and say, sounded very much in love with Frankenstein. This infatuation with Frankenstein may have caused his narration of Victor’s story to be very biased into making it sound like Victor was the hero whether he was or not.

This untrustworthiness of the narrative is really unsettling because it’s just like reading someone’s diary of their thoughts than reading an actual novel. We can’t be sure whether or not to trust any part of the story at all. Was Frankenstein really the hero? Was the monster really that bad? The monster was portrayed to be very intelligent, but was it really? How much of the monster’s intelligence is a mix of both Frankenstein and Walton’s intelligence? Just by going off Walton’s narrative, one can never be sure of anything. The story just remains a bundle of questions with no answers.

Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Lynd Ward. Frankenstein: the Lynd Ward Illustrated Edition. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, 2009. Print.


  1. I like your argument of the essay: a biased review of the story and the quotes you used are supportive to your arguments. the conclusion ends with lots of questions is also great.

  2. I think pointing out that bias exists in this novel is extremely important. With that said, I think you should provide more textual evidence proving that this story is being told from a bias prospective. Somewhere down the line of protagonists, the story is being manipulated and expressed in a different way than it originally occurred. A few quotes that overly exaggerate a description of the monster or Victor would help develop your argument on the whole. Also, the repetition of the sequential order of story tellers can get confusing and redundant after said more than once. However, your writing clearly explains why Frankenstein's story is unquestionably biased and the final questions are thought provoking for the reader.

  3. There is one central problem here: almost everything comes directly from our class discussion. It's good that you were listening in class, but an essay is not a test. Your job is not to repeat what you already know, but to extend it, or challenge it, or otherwise move beyond it.

    How to do that? Given that Walton is infatuated with Frankenstein, one strategy would be to look for *where, how and why* we might find bias and, more importantly, how we should react to the knowledge of that bias.

    Jennie's advice to look in the text is the critical starting point. Saying he's biases is one thing: saying where he's biased (other than the parts we already know about) and why it matters is another thing entirely.