Frankenstein

by: Mary Shelley

Point of View

Main ideas Point of View

Frankenstein is narrated in the first-person (using language like “I”, “my” etc.) by different characters at different points in the novel. The shifts in narrator and the alternating points of view are central to the novel’s theme of looking past appearances to reflect on what may lie beneath. The novel begins with narration from Captain Walton, who is writing a series of letters to his sister Margaret. The point of view then switches to Victor Frankenstein, who tells Walton about his life and how he came to be wandering in the Arctic. When Walton first encounters Victor, he wonders if the stranger is insane, due to his wild appearance and desperate plight. By listening to Victor’s story Walton comes to appreciate his experiences. When Victor reaches the point in his story where he describes meeting with monster, the point of view switches yet again, this time to the monster, who narrates in the first person, describing his experiences. Both Victor and the reader are set up to expect the monster to be coarse, barbaric, violent, and inhuman, but his narrative shows him to be intelligent, sensitive, and capable of feeling profound human emotions like empathy and love. After that, the point of view returns to Victor, who continues his story. The novel ends with a return to Walton’s point of view and first person narration.