Prompt 4

Point of view is used very effectively in, “Frankenstein,” as Shelley uses it both to develop her characters and to perpetuate the storyline.  Throughout the novel we get many points of view whether it be through quotations as exampled by Justine, or through narration as is the case with Viktor, Walton, and the monster.  Point of view helps Shelley to build suspense as well because as we read through the novel suspense is built slowly through Walton’s discovery of Viktor, to Viktor’s account, and finally when we reach the monster’s account it seems like a bonus perspective we as readers were not led to believe we would be afforded.  This makes the monster’s point of view all the more rich when we are confronted with his eloquence and see that he is far more complex than simply being a monster.

Shelley uses point of view to develop her character’s through her progression and subsequent switching of points of view throughout the novel.  Viktor grows tremendously as a character during his account of events, but then as we get the monster’s point of view it enables us as readers to judge his character more objectively and give him a depth beyond what he wishes to convey to us.  For example, when Viktor is first confronted by the monster he is confronted with a surprising degree of reason and rhetoric.  Immediately, readers are engaged with a sympathy for the monster that Viktor does not share.  Whether it be a result of the death of his brother or simply his own narrow-mindedness, Viktor sets himself as an irreconcilable adversary of the monster.  Whereas, we as readers are engaged with the opportunity to at least ponder the monster’s story and consider the validity of his pleas and rationale.  The inability of Viktor to sympathize with the monster as readers might is what perpetuates the storyline from here on out.

Shelley gives readers the monster’s point of view, which must surprise anyone reading the novel for the first time.  Through the monster’s point of view, we see that the monster’s vengeance is perpetuated by Viktor’s inability to truly connect with the monster and it seems the monster’s inability to communicate his needs to Viktor may very well be the result of Viktor’s inability to be receptive to them.  In the novel, I don’t feel like Viktor ever truly understood the horror of the monster’s inception, to have been born with no one to connect with, love, or sympathize with.  When the monster is first recounting his story to Viktor in Volume 2 Chapter 3, he describes his first days and encounters with nature.  In his account there seems to at least be a potential for benevolence in the monster, Viktor never seems to acknowledge this possibility and offers the monster no means or chance of repentance.  Without Shelley’s point of view this depth of Viktor’s character and the continuance of the monster’s vengeance would not have been available for the reader.

The Creature as Eve?

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein tells the story of three characters at its most basic level: that of Victor, Walton, and the Creature. However, a study of Shelley’s narrative techniques, in the characterization of the Creature through genre conventions, move the focus of the novel to how we should judge each of the character’s in their relation to the Creature. There seem to be contradictory readings of how the audience should judge Victor and the Creature in different sections of the novel; is this a sign of Shelley’s excellence as a writer in allowing the reader to make their own judgment?

When thinking on the subject of genre, Frankenstein is a horror story that warns about the dangers of man playing god. That is a true assessment of Victor Frankenstein’s cautionary tale spoken to Walton, but this isn’t a simple horror story. The genre is really emphasized in the Creature’s story of his early life; his story contributes to the horror-story narrative in its subversion of something so opposite to horror: the Garden of Eden narrative. [Note: I intentionally refer to Victor Frankenstein’s creation as the “Creature” as a way of avoiding the obvious connotations and moral judgement inherent to calling him the “Monster.”]

The Creature’s origin story truly begins in the Victor’s lab, an unnatural and man-made structure. Arguably, this follows the typical/Biblical setting in that God’s “laboratory,” should we insist on labeling an area as such, would have been the Garden of Eden. And this is where Shelley strategically breaks from the conventions of the garden narrative as it appears in literature.

In his appeal to Victor, the Creature refers to himself as Frankenstein’s “Adam” (119). Besides male gender, however, Shelley does not paint the Creature as the Adam-figure, but as an Eve without her Adam. Adam was a dominant male who named the creatures of the Earth and had an established relationship with his creator. In this way, Victor becomes an Adam in his connection with science as his guide. The Creature is closer to being Eve because he is born without real autonomy; his biggest fault seems to be his lack of beauty.

While the Creature comes to be morally corrupt, it is because of his first fault that he is pushed to violence. Because of the Creature’s gruesome appearance, Victor flees his lab instead of rejoicing over the Creature. “I had admired the perfect forms of my cottagers-their grace, beauty, and delicate complexions: but how I was terrified, when I viewed myself in a transparent pool…I was filled with the bitterest sensations of despondence and mortification. Alas! I did not yet entirely know the fatal effects of this miserable deformity” (130). It is his ‘monstrous’ physique that has the Delacey family push him away. This reading of the Creature as a wayward Eve is supported in the Creature’s encounters with his appearance; just as Eve knew of her beauty in Milton’s Paradise Lost through an encounter with her reflection, the Creature is informed of his appearance in the looking pool and he immediately knows that he is not beautiful.

What would it matter if my theory is correct that the Creature is a perversion of the Eve archetype? With this reading in mind, the discussion of the blameworthiness of the Creature for his actions is now enriched with the millennia old debate about Eve’s culpability in the fall of mankind. If the Creature is an Eve without her Adam, can we blame him for doing wrong when he didn’t have a better to inform him about what is right and wrong? Adam is faulted in the fall because unlike Eve, he should have known better than to sin; do we translate the Creature’s wrongdoings onto Victor for not being a proper help-mate? This allusion to the Garden of Eden and potential use of the garden trope to amplify the horror genre is a great method used by Mary Shelley to characterize the Creature by appealing to a famous trope.

The Sublime

  The Sublime is a huge part of many works including Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. It can either be used awe inspiring or it can be used to strike fear into the heart of a character as nature does both at different times for us humans. By using this Shelley gives her readers not only a backdrop in which to the scene is places but the Sublime helps accentuate the scene for us and it can even clue us in on how we’re supposed to feel about certain characters. One of the most prominent scenes of this is when Victor and his family are in the valley of the Chamounix. Victor sees the Sublime all around him, even once describing it by its own name as “sublime and magnificent”. He is completely struck by the majesty of nature and that plays on our sympathies toward him.
When he is making these statements we cannot help but sympathize with him and wish his sorrow to be lifted. His initial reaction to this aspect of nature shows us that deep down he can be a good and happy person. In responding correctly to nature, Shelley gives him a redeeming quality and expects the reader to recognize it. We as readers from then on are supposed to and do perceive Victor as a character who may have made mistakes against nature in the past but has now come to terms with it and is trying to do right.


This certain depiction of the Sublime also sets up the reader on how to feel in the scene. With detailed descriptions of how the earth looked to Victor and how he felt upon looking at them, Shelley makes the impression this scene is supposed to be a great, either happy or horrifying, revelation. She describes the vast expanse of the mountain range Victor is climbing and how the mist shrouds certain things but then suddenly reveals them. This leads us into the scene when Victor’s monster appears very suddenly and reveals certain things to Victor as the mist once did for the pieces of nature it covered on the mountainside.
With all of these different descriptions the Sublime and even more throughout the novel, Shelley clearly sets us up to go through all of these different thoughts and feelings. We as readers are and do take these descriptions and apply them t the characters and our expectations of the scene, figuring out whether the character or scene is either going to be good or bad.

The Sublime

The sublime nature setting in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a major part of the narrative. Her unique descriptions, diction, and tone bring everything to life, leaving readers in awe and hungry for more details. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, sublime is defined as “very beautiful or good: causing strong feelings of admiration or wonder.” Frankenstein invokes exactly these emotions in readers, especially because the main character creates life from lifelessness. That alone is enough to raise curiosity. In fact, when I read this story, I felt small – not small in a negative way but sensing something greater.

Overall, it is Shelley’s descriptions of nature that best show the sublime and give us insight to her characters. As Victor is telling his story about meeting the monster on the mountain, he pauses and reflects, “I remembered the effect that the view of the tremendous and ever-moving glacier had produced upon my mind when I first saw it…the sight of the awful and majestic in nature had indeed always the effect of solemnizing my mind, and causing me to forget the passing cares of life” (116). Such a simple thought greatly changed my perception of Victor. I thought he had always been an obsessive, insensitive scientist. However, this added another layer to him, proving my assumptions wrong. Although I don’t necessarily like him, I realized his anger with the monster was rooted in fear and guilt. Shelley’s genius description of nature mirrors Victor’s soul: proud of a creation so “tremendous” and “majestic” but terrified of something so “awful.”

Our handout called “The Gothic and the Sublime” sums this up best. It says, “We can only take delight in the sublime when we are not actually experiencing the pain and danger; looking at a dangerous precipice in a painting is sublime, standing on the edge is not.” We are not Victor. We didn’t create the monster. We don’t encounter the monster. We aren’t afraid of the monster.

Instead, we are small.  As readers, we journey alongside both Victor and the monster.  We get to appreciate the wonder of the sublime.

The Power of Storytelling

Perhaps the most striking dilemma that Shelley presents the reader is where to place their sympathies. On the one hand, Victor is selfish, overly ambitious, and his rash decisions regarding the monster leave the reader little room to feel much sympathy for the consequences for his actions. In this light, the monster Victor creates and abandons is the one the reader pities and sympathizes with; yet, his vindictive and destructive actions are impossible to ignore alongside Victor’s deep love for the family that he loses. These conflicting characters leave the reader at a crossroads together with Walton, who “sides” with Victor until he meets the monster. The end of Shelley’s novel leaves the reader and Walton in limbo

In this last chapter of the novel, Shelley truly showcases the power of storytelling. Because Walton has originally heard the story from Victor’s point of view, he despises the monster as Victor did. The monster calls Walton out on this bias in his long speech:

You… seem to have a knowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But, in the detail in which he gave you of them, he could not sum up the hours and months of misery which I endured, wasting in impotent passions. For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my own desires… Am I thought the only criminal, when all human kind sinned against me? Why do you not hate Felix, who drove his friend from the door with contumely? Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy the savior of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculate beings! I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, to be spurned at, and kicked and trampled on (165).

Victor’s limited perspective would not, and could not, allow for the monster’s feelings to trump his own. Thus, he presented the “whole” of the story, for Walton’s benefit. More than once, however, both Victor and Walton experience shock when they are “at first touched by the expressions of his misery” (164). His powers of persuasion and the effect on both Walton and Victor leave the reader to wonder what the story would have been like, had it been the monster to tell the story, rather than Victor.

Shelley, who is, in this story, exploring the art of storytelling, exhibits its absolute power to influence the listener’s perception of someone else’s character. Stories in Frankenstein often serve to teach and warn the readers and listeners and do so under the blanket of personal bias and experience. Walton, in receiving Victor’s story, seems to lose any agency to form his own opinions about the story, leaving the power in Victor’s story.

Biases

In Frankenstein, Mary Shelley chooses to arrange her narrators in a form which certainly invites readers to ask, why? Why do we get Walton’s story through letters to his sister? Why can we only hear from the monster through Victor, at least until the very end? Why do we have to hear about all of this through Walton’s memory and notes?

Telling this story accurately seems too important to hear from anyone who may be unreliable. We would think we should hear directly from both Victor and the monster, but that’s not the choice that Mary Shelley makes. She wants us to notice and question this arrangement, and more importantly the reliability of the story that we read. This leads us to question not only the story, but also the judgements we make as readers of the characters in the novel. If we aren’t getting an accurate picture of what happened, how can we judge the actors within?

I find the possibility of a distortion of the monster’s story to be particularly interesting, since we hear his story through the lenses of both Victor and Walton’s biases. At one point, Walton points out that Victor even made an effort to edit the notes that Walton took on the story, “principally in giving the life and spirit to the conversations he held with his enemy” (210). This leads us to think that Victor was not quoting directly the conversations, but merely providing a picture of the impressions they left on him. If Victor so passionately abhors the monster, could he not have distorted the monster’s true character?

At the very end of the novel we meet the monster for the first time without Victor’s emotions in play. We still see him through Walton’s eyes, which are certainly not clear either, but it still feels like a truer image. His first words are a real shock when the reader expects utter hatred and a quest for vengeance. “That is also my victim! … Oh, Frankenstein! Generous and self-devoted being! What does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me?” (217).

Either Victor’s death wrought a great change within the monster, or we have not being seeing his full character through Victor’s clouded storytelling. For me as a reader, it feels like a mixture of both. This character torn by grief, misery, and a useless quest for forgiveness is not only a horrendous monster, but also a deeply feeling being who at least partially loved his creator. I point this out not to say that his crimes are negligible, but to show the diversity of his character. Shelley seems to be telling us as readers to watch out when we make judgements. Biases will always creep in, so we should be attentive to them.

When life imitates art

One of the funniest scenes in Mel Brooks’ Young Frankenstein is when Frankenstein asks Igor whose brain they just put into the creature. “Abby someone,” Igor replies, “Abby… Normal.” If Igor had only been a better reader, he might have been able to avoid putting “an abnormal brain into a seven and a half foot long, fifty-four inch wide GORILLA.”

This scene is oddly consistent with the treatment of reading in Mary Shelley’s text. If only the characters had received better direction while reading, many of the tragedies of the novel could have been avoided. Walton, Victor, and the creature are more or less self-educated during formative periods of their lives, and all admit that their reading drives their actions… and not for the better.

Writing to his sister, Walton notes, “[A] history of all the voyages made for purposes of discovery composed the whole of our good Uncle Thomas’s library. My education was neglected, yet I was passionately fond of reading . . . [t]hese volumes…” (52). He largely credits his obsession with his dangerous journey North to reading about such voyages as a child.

Victor, unfortunately, can relate. While young Clerval may have been reading tales about heroic “Orlando, Robin Hood, Amadis, and St George” (67), Frankenstein becomes enchanted with “the whole works of [Cornelius Agrippa] and afterwards of Paraclesus and Albertus Magnus” (69). These books inspire him to seek out pseudoscientific knowledge that might be better left unknown.

These stories have such a hold on the characters that even though their life experiences show them how far their reading has lead them astray, they still can’t quite escape their influence. Victor can tell his story in the hopes of correcting Walton’s faulty reading, for instance, but Walton would still not willingly quit his journey north until his crew practically threatens mutiny.

Even the creature’s reading—including Ruins of Empires (134), Paradise Lost, Plutarch’s Lives, and Sorrows of Young Werter (142)—teach him that mankind can be “at once so powerful, so virtuous, and magnificent, yet so vicious and base” (135), the latter of which properties he chooses to emulate. While Victor’s books teach him that all knowledge is and can be accessible, moreover, the creature’s books teach him to frame his life as a tragedy, a frame which he chooses to inhabit.

Judging by the numerous footnotes in our text, Mary Shelley seems influenced by reading her parents’ works (much of which was about education). She certainly is aware that books—including hers—can be transformative.

Because of her emphasis on the dangers of misguided reading, Shelley’s novel seems to suggest that we watch what and when we (or our children) read because books don’t end when we close the pages.

Censors and book burners and propaganda writers know this all too well—but then again, so do people who seek to eradicate poverty by increasing literacy. Books are no simple evil or good, but a tool that can be used to achieve either end.

The Trouble with a Framed Tale

As kids, a majority of us grew up playing the game “telephone.” As a light-hearted activity that twisted and distorted words and phrases, it provided much laughter and showed the power of miscommunication.uKLVm

Much like telephone, Mary Shelley frames the tale of Frankenstein in such a way that the reader is left to wonder if the words hold any truth at all. How reliable is Walton in his retelling of Victor’s tragic anecdote? How trustworthy is Victor’s own recollection of events? What motivations are at play?

Beginning with the lonely figure of Walton, the fanciful narration sends the reader through Victor’s account by way of letters to Walton’s sister. “I have resolved every night…to record, as nearly as possible in his own words, what he has related during the day…this manuscript will doubtless afford you the greatest pleasure,” Walton writes in his fourth letter. While supposedly recording facts, Walton also appears to worry about the entertainment value that his sister will obtain upon reading. The possibility that Walton strayed from fact to create a greater response in his audience is present, while hardly a plausible notion.

The greater discrepancy lies in the tale that Victor recounts. “I do not know that the relation of my disasters will be useful to you; yet when I reflect that you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers…I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale…” Telling an account of events meant to show Walton what his life could become should he choose to continue on his path of discovery, Victor may or may not be truthful. His desire to save Walton may in turn cause him to fabricate or exaggerate the events of his life.

To propagate additional inconsistencies in Victor’s narration, the claim that Victor wants to save Walton, can be disputed in his final instruction. “…When I am dead, if he should appear…swear that he shall not live.” Basically condemning Walton to mutual insanity should he indeed kill the monster, Victor’s ulterior motives are revealed. “He is eloquent and persuasive…but trust him not. His soul is as hellish as his form, full of treachery and fiendlike malice.” His desire for the monster to die rivals his wish to keep Walton from making similar mistakes. Thus showing Victor’s ulterior motives for telling his tale, his unreliability as an author is conclusive. Since his tale cannot be proven, the events may have been falsified to garner the sympathies of the deprived Walton.

As a tale that could simply be the result of a bad game of telephone, Shelley’s framing devices leave the reader to interpret the story as they please. The unreliability of the narrators, however, does not take away from the novel as a whole, rather it just creates new perspective.

Victor’s Dueling Dual Responsibilities

In Mary Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, Victor struggles to take responsibility for his actions, but with what one may consider to be reasonable excuse. Victor has a dual responsibility, one to mankind and one to his creation. If these two responsibilities were aligned then there would be no problem, but instead they seem to oppose each other.

Victor’s responsibility towards mankind may include many things, such as: killing his creation, committing suicide trying to kill his creation (at least he tried), or maybe just not playing the role of God in the first place. The first time that we see this responsibility rise up is when Victor meets the monster on the mountain, shortly after the murder of William. In this scene Victor “trembled with rage and horror” (117) and it seems that he plans to make things right and man-up, as some would say today, to his actions. The reader is gearing up for a cage match up on top of this mountain, Victor vs. Monster, Good vs. Evil, and Creator vs. Creation. It seems that all things are going to be made right, but then his other responsibility kicks in.

So the Monster shows up and through some rather persuasive dialogue convinces Victor to listen to his story. Victor gives several reasons for this sudden change in plans: his curiosity, compassion, and he, for the first time, “felt what the duties of a creator towards his creature were, and that I ought to render him happy before I complained of his wickedness” (120). Just seconds ago Victor was ready to fight the monster but now he is filled with “duty” towards his creation. No longer is his goal to utterly destroy the monster but to make him happy before complaining about his wickedness. Even after he indulges the monster’s request, all he is going to do is complain. He cannot fulfill his responsibility to mankind, so instead he tries to fulfill his responsibilities to the monster. In order to make things right with the monster Victor must create for the monster a partner. As we know Victor agrees to this, but when he is nearly finished he tears the new body to pieces in a violent fit, as if in spite of the monster. What caused Victor’s failure in this endeavor? Victor argues to himself that he is making the same mistakes as he had made before. What if the new monster does not want to follow the original monster’s plan? How could Victor live knowing that he had let two such monstrosities loose one Earth? Thus in an act of defiance Victor cannot fulfill his responsibility to his creation as well, due to his responsibilities to mankind.

Victor definitely bears some if not most of the blame for William’s and Justine’s deaths. If he would have been responsible from the start, as the moment when the creature first was gifted life, Victor might have been able to reason with or at least save William and Justine. Instead in that original moment Victor sheds all responsibility and flees his room. He neither kills the creature nor does he help guide his creation down the right path. Walton is his last chance to redeem himself as a character and I think that he knows. He figures maybe he can stop Walton from making the same mistakes that he made and save a life rather than lose another.

Into the Woods

In Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein, the reader learns of the monsters beginnings and how he came to be the way he is.  The monster, with his vivid descriptions of his early days, gives us insight into what it was like to come to life as a creation made by a human rather than a higher power.

Shelley’s use of nature in this scene helps the reader to understand just how alone the monster is.  Having just been brought to life, his first moments of life have frightening and have been filled with great rejection. For him the only refuge that he can find is in the woods, away from his creator.  Nature, in this story, acts as a safe haven for the monster to develop in.  It is here in the woods that the monster learns how to use his senses, process his thoughts, and understand the world around him.

As he develops greater use of his body and mind the monster learns how to fend for himself.  By telling his story, he shows the reader exactly how his day-to-day life was like in the woods.  He was resourceful and found that his new “home” provided everything that he needed to survive.  He found wood for a fire and discovered that the heat was able to keep him warm.  He found shelter and claimed it as his new home.

For the early days of the monsters life, the wood he choose to live in, was more comforting and nurturing that the human that created him.  With nature the monster felt safe and free and the reader can see that.

 

It Takes a Village

Society versus the individual. Who is ultimately responsible? Victor Frankenstein created the monster and then abandoned the monster to its own devices. Victor’s creation went over the line of what science should be able to do. He was an isolated man who was curious and ambitious. His own ambition became his downfall. He created a monster that was disproportionate to humans, a creature that was stronger, where people could visibly see the stiches and organs. His creation was heinous to himself, and yet he took no responsibility for his actions. Victor never told his family what was going on and did not track the creature down once the creature left.

The creature spiraled down into a hole of isolation, similar to Victor’s isolation. The creature is continually harassed, shot at, and thought of as a monster. His appearance makes people jump to assumptions. The little human interaction the creature received was from watching the De Lacey family. Although, he was not actually a part of the family, a part of society, he was a third person observer. When he tried to actually interact with the De Lacey family he was run off. That was when he decided that Victor’s responsibility was to create him a mate. The creature wants companionship, a basic human want and need. And something he is continually denied throughout the novel.

When does the individual’s actions stop being their fault? What is society’s role in helping raise a child? An African proverb states “It takes a village to raise a child.” And yet the “village” to help raise the creature is absent. They judge the creature, assume he is a monster, and further help is isolation lifestyle. The creature’s actions, especially once he vows revenge on Victor, are his fault. But the responsibility does not rest solely on his shoulders, but on the shoulders of society and more importantly Victor’s shoulders.

Doom and Gloom: Gothic Nature Settings in Frankenstein

In her novel Frankenstein, Shelley uses gothic nature settings in order to foreshadow impending doom as well as set the mood of the narrator during significant scenes. For example, in chapter 7 of Frankenstein, Victor is traveling home after hearing of the death of his brother William. On his way to Geneva, Victor notes that the pitch darkness and looming mountains paint a “picture… [of] a vast and dim scene of evil” (43). This thought ends up foreshadowing what is to come next: Victor reaches Geneva to find the gates are already closed and he is forced to travel to the next city over. Unable to sleep, Victor ends up wandering to the place where William was killed. Here, the gothic nature setting intensifies; the landscape turns hellish in the face of a brutal storm, the rain pours down and lightning flashes from multiple points in the sky. The bright lights from the sky “[illuminate] the lake, making it appear like a vast sheet of fire” (44). The lighting also creates a blinding series of flashes that leave Victor in utter darkness when they momentarily subside, before brightening the landscape once again.

thunderstorm

The ominous feel of the landscape and the hostile weather patterns are tools that Shelley uses to create a sense of fear and foreboding in the reader. Shelley uses this feeling to mirror Victor’s grief and suffering at this moment, to create suspense, and to prime the reader for what Victor sees next: the monster’s form in the midst of the storm. The foreshadowing is heavy up until the point that the monster appears. The reader already feels fearful as the monster begins to gain form in a flash of lightning; Victor describes him as having a “gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspect more hideous than belongs to humanity” (44). The image of a lake of fire is still fresh in the reader’s mind when Victor calls the monster a “filthy daemon” (44) and becomes convinced that the monster murdered his brother. All of this allows the reader to see the monster as Victor has seen him from the beginning: a hideous abomination. It also allows the reader to understand Victor’s quick and unfounded conviction that the monster murdered his brother. The very setting seems to point to the monster’s guilt.

 

Eyes of the Sublime

Shelley’s use of the sublime in Frankenstein is key in engaging the characters emotions and conventions. This is especially shown to the reader in Part I, Chapter II of the novel when Victor visits grand sights that Shelley goes into very specific details about how this makes Victor feel. Victor at this point in the novel feels a sense of failure, fear, and angst over the monster that he created and tries to escape these emotions in the scene that Shelley lays out for the reader. Victor says that the “sublime and magnificent scenes afforded [him] the greatest consolation that [he] was capable receiving”. However, this is not much of a feeling considering Victor is so down on himself for his failed creation. He then goes on to say that this great vast scene, although it didn’t take away his pain and worries, “subdued and tranquilized” it. It “diverted my mind from the thoughts over which it brooded for the last month,” says Victor.

The reader can see the sublime here taking not only Victor on a literary journey, but us as well with Shelley’s grand scenes. The sublime described here made my view of Victor as pathetic even grow stronger. He is surrounded with such beauty and greatness, yet he still cannot escape his agony with the monster. This scene foreshadows the fact that Victor will not be escaping the monster, and Shelley lets the two meet very soon after. This is no coincidence and I feel Shelley uses the sublime to set the reader up for this inference of the upcoming scenes.frankenstein

Story/Discourse in Don Quixote

Don Quixote is considered by many to be the first modern novel.  When considering the story as a narrative, it is easy to see how this particular story deviated from its predecessors and paved the way for the modern novel.  Don Quixote embodies these changes most clearly in its story/discourse style.

Prior to Cervante’s novel, stories were written in the same fantastical style that the main character, Don Quixote, satirizes.  There was a lack of realism in the tales of knighthood and chivalry.  Cervante shows how unrealistic and even misguided these old tales can be if you try to apply them to the real world.  More so, the realism of the novel allows the reader to appreciate the values of the story on a higher level as the adversities the protagonist faces are more grounded than tales of magic and dragons.

Don Quixote also deviates from the discourse of his predecessors in the simple fact that the story is written in prose.  Any similar tales or narratives written before Don Quixote would have been written in some sort of verse.  The strictly prose style of Don Quixote is how almost all novels we read today are written and now it is difficult to imagine reading a modern narrative any other way.

Cervantes: Silly or Serious?

Miguel De Cervantes is a mischievous narrator. Don Quixote, often noted as the first novel, presents a disparity between the living, breathing Cervantes and his persona as both author and narrator of The Knight of the Sorrowful Face’s story. Unfortunately, a quick Google search doesn’t reveal anything about Cervantes’ personality, but a typical stoical portrait of the man presents a serious, military-minded author. Even a quick glimpse over the Prologue to Don Quixote, however, reveals a more playful Cervantes who believes his less academic approach is superior to the formal and studious. This discrepancy between what a reliable Wikipedia portrait portrays about Cervantes and what the text portrays about Cervantes is what we in class have discussed as the actual author vs. implied author.

The casual reader rarely perceives this discrepancy and perhaps that’s the point. In creating a persona, as Cervantes does, that seems to continually shape his perception of Don Quixote the character. The protagonist’s borderline dangerous, yet pitiable character can be a tough one to follow as a reader. Why does Cervantes tell us this story and is there a moral to Don Quixote’s picaresque-like adventures? As the novel progresses, Cervantes goes from a self-professed “step-father” of his own work to a concerned narrator and author asking for his readers to give it “the same credit [they] give to the books of chivalry that are esteemed so highly in the world.” His ostensible indecision regarding Don Quixote’s character and the novel as a whole encourages the reader to embrace his or her uncertainty about the text, patiently bearing through the text in order to make an assessment at the end.

In experimenting with his role as both narrator, implied author, and author, Cervantes paves the way for a novelist’s pride in his or her work to be both warranted and unnecessary. He simultaneously self-deprecates his prose and lifts himself above his predecessors, making his novel accessible to readers from all backgrounds.