Title of Oral/Poster Presentation

Narrative Instability in Frankenstein

Presenter Information

Terysa DyerFollow

Class

Article

Department

English

Faculty Mentor

Shane Graham

Presentation Type

Oral Presentation

Abstract

When reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it's important to consider the organization of its three main narratives. In my paper, I explore the ways in which each of the three primary narrators of Shelley's Frankenstein undermines his own narrative. By analyzing the narrative strengths and weaknesses of Frankenstein, Walton, and the creature, I attempt to resolve whether we can viably argue for one coherent meaning to the book. My paper explores the interplay between the three narratives and considers how each undermines any meaning we might have been able to glean from the story. The significance of my paper is asserting that there isn't one consistent way to read Frankenstein; its narrative fidelity cannot be reduced to one answer, or one man whose voice is "correct." Thus the novel's virtue lies, not in the stories the men are telling, but rather in the organization and interaction of those stories within the braided network of their narratives. As the concept of the authoritative or omniscient narrator becomes harder to maintain in the Gothic fiction tradition, the emphasis falls upon a narrative-or combination of narratives-like Frankenstein's, told in the unreliable voice of a complex character.

Start Date

4-9-2015 11:00 AM

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Apr 9th, 11:00 AM

Narrative Instability in Frankenstein

When reading Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it's important to consider the organization of its three main narratives. In my paper, I explore the ways in which each of the three primary narrators of Shelley's Frankenstein undermines his own narrative. By analyzing the narrative strengths and weaknesses of Frankenstein, Walton, and the creature, I attempt to resolve whether we can viably argue for one coherent meaning to the book. My paper explores the interplay between the three narratives and considers how each undermines any meaning we might have been able to glean from the story. The significance of my paper is asserting that there isn't one consistent way to read Frankenstein; its narrative fidelity cannot be reduced to one answer, or one man whose voice is "correct." Thus the novel's virtue lies, not in the stories the men are telling, but rather in the organization and interaction of those stories within the braided network of their narratives. As the concept of the authoritative or omniscient narrator becomes harder to maintain in the Gothic fiction tradition, the emphasis falls upon a narrative-or combination of narratives-like Frankenstein's, told in the unreliable voice of a complex character.