The Narrative Voice In Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

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When writing any piece of fiction, an author 's choice of narrative voice has a huge impact on how readers experience the story. From the slightly less personal yet versatile third-person to the narrow, limited view of first-person, the narrative voice literally provides the voice of literature. It affects which characters the reader really connects with, the opinions that influence them, the knowledge they have, and numerous other aspects. While most authors stick with only one tense, Mary Shelley challenged that standard in Frankenstein. In Frankenstein, Shelley changes her narrative voice numerous times in order to fully develop all aspects of the story through Walton 's letters, Frankenstein 's story, the Monster 's story, and also the…show more content…
Walton 's letters begin and end Shelley 's work by introducing the character of Frankenstein and also detailing the last moments of his life. While written in first-person like most of the book, his portion takes the form of letters to his sister, which lends itself to a slightly more personal style. In contrast with Frankenstein 's dramatic retelling of his life, Shelley writes Walton in a much lighter tone. Where Frankenstein 's narrative has a dark and dismal feel, Walton 's letters come across exactly as they ought to--as a man setting out on an adventure. These letters offer Shelley a platform from which to introduce the character of Victor Frankenstein. Instead of starting at the beginning of his life, she begins at the end and allows him to tell his own story. Walton remarks to his sister that he found the man drifting on a sledge on a slab of ice, "nearly frozen…and deadly emaciated by fatigue and suffering" (15). By introducing him in this way, Shelley catches the reader’s interest from the start, causing them to wonder what brought this man to the arctic in such a condition. After Frankenstein catches Walton up on the events that brought him thus far, Walton provides Shelley a way to tell the end of the story as well. Because Shelley wrote these portions as letters, they remain separate from the rest of the narrative, making the switch between Walton and Frankenstein less awkward and opening the door to develop her story and characters in a
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