“You’re never going to kill storytelling, because it’s built into the human plan. We come with it.” –Margaret Atwood
In many ways, Frankenstein is a story about stories: the narrative is nested within multiple voices that overlap on top of one another, shaping the ways that the novel is read and experienced by its reader(s). The characters of the novel are both audience and storyteller, and therefore, we have a chance to understand how the creation and interpretation of story are at play in the novel. For instance, while Walton is our first narrator, he is also the first audience of Victor’s tale, and therefore his interpretation of Victor’s tale becomes part of the tone and theme of the novel, and ultimately colors the ending of the novel immensely.
Taking into account the nested narrative structure, the interjections of interpretation and subjective musing from the narrator-characters, as well as the lack of true objectivity due to all of this, make an argument in which you interrogate the very nature of this story and answer the following question: Who does Frankenstein belong to as a story? For example, whose story is this? Or, who is the story for?
You may choose to consider one of the following options:
· Victor (it is named for him after all and tells the story of his creation)
· The Creature (after all, it is his creation that drives the plot of the story)
· Walton (the first and last narrator of the story)
· Walton’s sister Margaret (the ultimate audience of the tale, and the reason why we are reading it)
· Mary Shelley (the author)
· Percy Shelley (Mary’s husband, and first reader/editor of the novel)
· Romantic poets contemporary to Shelley
· The reader (who is that? You? The people of early 19th Century England? Someone else?)
· A combination of these options and/or someone else entirely!
This essay will be graded on your ability to follow the instructions above, and make a strong, specific, fully developed argument with multiple contextualized examples from the text(s). You should seek to find diverse examples and justifications from your own life and/or the works we’ve either read in class or you’ve found on your own. Your essay should have a minimal amount of grammatical/structural errors, and be formatted according to MLA standards. Please include a works cited page with your completed in-class essay. The Argumentative Qualitative Rubric will also be used to assess this assignment, and will be available for reference on Canvas.
Shelley, Mary Wolstonecraft. Frankenstein. 1818. Edited by Cynthia Brantley Johnson, Simon & Schuster, 2004.
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