Literary Devices in Frankenstein
Frame story: A frame story is a literary technique in which an introductory or main narrative provides the foundation for another story to emerge. It is sometimes referred to as a story within a story. In Frankenstein, the frame story begins with Captain Walton, an English sailor headed for the North Pole. He encounters a stranger floating on the ice who eventually introduces himself as Victor Frankenstein. Frankenstein then tells Walton the story of his life. The majority of the novel takes place within Frankenstein’s story, but Walton’s frame gives the story a plausible place to start.
Epistolary: An epistolary is a literary work that is written as a series of documents, such as letters, diary entries, newspaper clippings, etc. The epistolary form of this novel comes from the frame story: Captain Walton writes letters to his sister Margaret during his journey to the North Pole. The epistolary form can add realism to a story because it mimics real-life interactions. In this novel, the epistolary form is essential because it adds credence to a supernatural story that would be easy to dismiss as unrealistic.
Unreliable Narrator: Frankenstein unfolds through a series of narrators. It begins with Walton’s letters to his sister and then relates Frankenstein’s story as Walton hears it. Chapters XI-XVI are Frankenstein’s recreation of the creature’s narrating his own story. These layers of narration should remind readers that each story is the character’s account of what happened. It is therefore colored by perspective and therefore unreliable.
Literary Devices Examples in Frankenstein:
"My own spirits were high, and I bounded along with feelings of unbridled joy and hilarity...." See in text (Chapter VI)
"Excellent friend! how sincerely you did love me, and endeavour to elevate my mind until it was on a level with your own!..." See in text (Chapter VI)
"she began to think that the deaths of her favourites was a judgement from heaven to chastise her partiality...." See in text (Chapter VI)
"We returned to our college on a Sunday afternoon: the peasants were dancing, and every one we met appeared gay and happy..." See in text (Chapter VI)
"Ever since the fatal night, the end of my labours, and the beginning of my misfortunes..." See in text (Chapter VI)
"Happy, happy earth! fit habitation for gods, which, so short a time before, was bleak, damp, and unwholesome. My spirits were elevated by the enchanting appearance of nature; the past was blotted from my memory, the present was tranquil, and the future gilded by bright rays of hope and anticipations of joy.”..." See in text (Chapter XII)
"Soon, oh! very soon, will death extinguish these throbbings, and relieve me from the mighty weight of anguish that bears me to the dust; and, in executing the award of justice, I shall also sink to rest...." See in text (Chapter XXI)