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Novels usually draw readers in and work to avoid us thinking this is 'fiction'. In an essay of not more than 1500 words, asses this claim with reference to one of the following novels: Great Expectations, Fathers and Sons, Frankenstein the novel

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Introduction

'Novels usually draw readers in and work to avoid us thinking "this is fiction".' In an essay of not more than 1500 words, assess this claim with reference to one of the following novels: Great expectations, Fathers and Sons, Frankenstein. A novel by definition is a piece of fiction. The story may rely heavily on one literary genre (romance, gothic, sentimental and realism) but in all likelihood will encompass more than one type. This fusion of styles projected through the novel's structure, plot, settings, themes and characters, enables the author to impact the reader in many different ways, evoking feelings of fear, recognition, sympathy, doubt and acceptance. It is this subtle blend of genres that inevitably influences the reader as to the fictionality of the novel. It is with this in mind that I shall analyse the statement that 'Novels usually draw readers in and work to avoid us thinking "this is fiction"' in relation to Frankenstein, written by Mary Shelley in 1818. An author may seek to depict reality through the structure of their novel. The reader is programmed to recognise a simple format. Events are sequential and we can identify both cause & effect. ...read more.

Middle

'It was a divine spring; and the season contributed greatly to my convalescence. I felt also sentiments of joy and affection revive in my bosom.' (Frankenstein, page 44) However, although we acknowledge the reality of place and time in the novel, the healing power of nature is more akin to romanticism. Furthermore the gothic overtones of particular settings cannot be ignored. The remoteness of 'the land of mist and snow' (Frankenstein, page 10) prepares us for Walton's extraordinary sighting and the incredible story that Victor will tell. In addition Shelley's inclusion of the prisons in the novel, are as symbolic as they are real. The prisons which constrain Justine and Victor as well as the Monster's hovel and Victor's 'solitary chamber, or rather cell' (Frankenstein, page 36) all symbolise mental as well as physical imprisonment. Finally the Monster's ability to transport himself globally from one setting to another, in spite of his obvious physical appearance and limitations is something which the author leaves essentially unexplored. As a consequence the reader is reminded that this is fiction. However, the themes of Frankenstein - prejudice, knowledge, ambition, injustice and parental responsibility - are familiar and serve to deflect the reader from the fictionality of the novel. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, the duplication and doubling of the male characters within Frankenstein - Victor and Walton (through their ambition and thirst for knowledge) and Victor and the Monster (through shadowing of God & Man/Satan, Paradise Lost) - leads the reader to conclude that in spite of their marked differences, their fate will be the same, 'ultimately, failure and death' (The Realist Novel, page 80). By the end of the novel Victor and presumably the Monster are dead, whilst Walton although returning to England has in all likelihood not abandoned his hope of 'utility and glory' (Frankenstein, page 184). Frankenstein like the Monster is a hybrid (mixture of genres). In spite of Shelley's use of realist conventions to depict real life issues, Frankenstein is undoubtedly an offshoot of Romanticism, the gothic novel. The expression of the imagination through incredible events, mysterious settings and satanic imagery are all features of this genre. I would argue therefore that although Frankenstein does not sufficiently draw us in to prevent us from thinking "this is fiction", this was ultimately not the author's aim. Shelley instead was intent on creating a sensationalist horror, a science-fiction that would enable the reader to explore the sub-conscious and the principles at the heart of human nature. ...read more.

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