Discuss the novel’s shifts in narrative perspective. What is the effect of presenting different characters’ viewpoints, especially those of Victor and the monster?
From Victor’s point of view, the monster is nothing but a hideous and evil creature; from the monster’s account, on the other hand, it becomes clear that he is a thinking, feeling, emotional being. The recounting of the murder of William Frankenstein is a prime example of the impact of perspective: while Victor’s description, colored by the emotional letter from his father, focuses on the absolute evil of the act, the monster’s version of events centers on the emotional circumstances surrounding it. Even if one cannot sympathize with the monster, one can at least understand his actions. This kind of dual narration is one of the more interesting consequences of the complicated narrative structure that Shelley implements.
Trace and discuss the role of letters and written communication throughout the novel.
The entirety of
Shelley’s use of letters enables the shift of narrative from one character to another while remaining within the bounds of the standard novel. Letters also serve as a means of social interaction, as characters are frequently out of immediate contact with one another. Walton never encounters his sister in the novel; his relationship with her is based wholly on correspondence. Likewise, Victor often isolates himself from his loved ones; the letters from Alphonse and Elizabeth mark attempts to connect with him. Even the monster uses written communication to develop a relationship with Victor when, at the end of the novel, he leads him ever northward by means of notes on the trees and rocks he passes.
Discuss the presentation of women in the novel. Do Victor and the monster differ in their view of women, and if so, how?
In the context of passive female characters, it is interesting to note that Mary Shelley’s mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, was the author of the strongly feminist