Today we talked about the framing structure Shelley uses for this novel. It begins with letters from Robert Walton to his sister, Margaret Saville. Walton confides to his sister that he earnestly desires a friend--a like-minded confident, but as he is on a journey to the arctic via ship in order to discover the secrets of the magnetic pole, he has small likelihood of finding such a person. However, his ship comes across a man travelling in the arctic by sled--the mariners rescue the man, and the stranger is all that Walton could want in a friend. The "framing device" of the letters is then replaced by chapters--purportedly the tale told by the rescued man [who turns out to be Victor Frankenstein] to Walton, who, in turn, is supposedly telling the story to his sister in letters.
So, to get us started, I will ask a few questions and pose a few thought. Your job is to think about these questions/statements, reflect upon them, and then post post your own answers/thoughts and/or ask your own questions!
- Why do you think Shelley uses the framing device of letters written to someone repeating a tale told by someone else? Is this confusing or effective?
- In chapter 1, Victor describes Elizabeth as "... a distinct species, a being heaven-sent, and bearing a celestial stamp in all her features... A creature who seemed to shed radiance from her looks... My more than sister--the beautiful and adored companion of all my occupations and my pleasures." In chapter 2, we learn that Elizabeth differs from Victor in her interests--her poetry to his "...earnest research to learn the hidden laws of nature." Why does Shelley take such pains to point out this difference?
- Victor's friend, Henry Clerval, is described in chapter 2 as occupying himself with "the moral relations of things." Is Shelley setting Clerval into the role of moderation between Elizabeth and Victor? Or does Clerval's character serve some other purpose?
- Victor claims, "Destiny was too potent, and her immutable laws had decreed my utter and terrible destruction."
[chapter 2] He constantly points out that he is a victim of circumstance, doomed by the actions/inactions of others. Do you agree? Or, do you believe, as William Ernest Henley writes in "Invictus,"
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
- If the greatest sin, and the one which doomed Lucifer, is pride, what are we to make of Victor's claim in chapter 3? "...soon my mind was filled with one thought, one conception, one purpose. So much has been done, exclaimed the soul of Frankenstein--more, far more, will I achieve; treading in the steps already marked. I will pioneer a new way, explore unknown powers, and unfold to the world the deepest mysteries of creation."
- Because we already know [with all of the films adaptations of Frankenstein it's hard to not know, unlike Shelley's audience] that Victor will create a monster, do you have a sense of foreshadowing with all of the words and phrases that refer to conception, creation, and nature's secrets?
I can't wait to see what you are thinking about as we read, so hurry up and start blogging with me!
Teacher Barb :)