La jalousie

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Alain Robbe-Grillet

The novel often shifts in perspective. Address the effect of presenting the different viewpoints of characters – specifically those of the monster and Victor.

In the beginning of Frankenstein, Walton is narrating through the letters he writes to his sister. Then Victor takes up the narrative. For a time the monster is narrating, and then the narration goes back to Walton to end the novel. Every time the perspective shifts the reader gets all kinds of new information about the facts of the story and the different personalities of the narrators. Each person who narrates has their own way of seeing things and understanding what has taken place in the story. Additionally, there is information that is known only to certain narrators, and they add that information to the story. It helps to flesh everything out for the reader. Walton talks about what happens to Victor in the man's last days. Victor talks about the way the monster was created. The monster, in his turn as narrator, tells the reader why he became so evil.

Since there are so many differences in the perspectives of the narrators, the contrast between them can seem stark to the reader at times. That is especially significant where the monster and Victor are concerned, since they oppose each other for such a large portion of the work. Victor's point of view is clear: the monster is evil and hideous. The monster, however, shows through his own narration that he is feeling, thinking, and emotional in a way that is very human. Things that happen in the story are seen very differently through the eyes of the monster and the eyes of Victor. The murder of William, for example, is seen only as an act of pure evil by Victor. The monster sees the emotions that led up to the killing. The dual narration is a side benefit of a complex narrative structure and provides a depth of understanding for the reader that might not be possible with only one narrator to the story.

Discuss the role that the letters and other forms of written communication play throughout the story.

The letters that Walton writes address the entire story of Frankenstein. Both the narratives of the monster and of Victor are contained in the letters, and the preface to the book can also be read as a letter of introduction. The narrative of Victor includes letters from Elizabeth and Alphonse. Much like the letters written by Walton, the letters of Elizabeth and Alphonse convey information that helps to advance the plot. They offer authenticity to a story that would otherwise seem to be implausible. In addition, Victor includes these letters in the narrative, which also helps Alphonse and Elizabeth express what they are feeling. It sheds light on their temperament and the concerns that they have over Victor. In short, it makes them very human to the reader instead of two-dimensional characters.

The way Shelley uses letters allows the narration to shift easily between characters while still remaining "standard" when it comes to the way novels are written. Letters provide social interaction between characters in a time when there were few other ways to connect. Walton, for example, does not ever speak to his sister in person in the novel. The only relationship they have is through the letters Walton sends. Victor is a very isolated individual throughout much of the novel, as well, so the letters from Alphonse and Elizabeth are attempts to reach out to him and keep their connection established. The monster even uses communication in written form to keep a relationship with Victor as he moves northward toward and over the ice. The rocks and trees he goes past become part of his story, and part of Victor's story.

Address how women are portrayed in the novel and whether the monster and Victor differ in the views they have of women.

The women seen in the novel tend to be passive. They have innocence and purity about them that comes through very clearly in what Shelley says about them and how they are seen to interact with other characters. Additionally, women are seen as not having much power – with a few exceptions. Both the monster and Victor see women as the ultimate companions. Elizabeth brings great joy to Victor, but she is not strong enough to stop the execution of Justine for the murder of William Frankenstein. However, the fact that she does not have a lot of power in the community does not bother Victor. That is simply the way things are for women during that time period, and it is to be expected. Eventually, Victor and the monster both destroy one another's love interests. Victor destroys the female creature before he brings it to life, and the monster kills Elizabeth on her and Victor's wedding night.

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