The novel itself is written in a frame or embedded narrative style, with the letters between Walton and his sister as the outer frame. Frankenstein's account of events.

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Kariann Mortimer

Context in Frankenstein – Chapter 5

The novel itself is written in a frame or embedded narrative style, with the letters between Walton and his sister as the outer frame. Frankenstein’s account of events, as he tells the story to Walton who records the story, is an embedded frame within this and then the monster’s tale as the final embedded frame at the heart of the frame structure.  This has the effect of creating a multi-layered perspective and enables the reader to hear the story from the point of view of both Frankenstein and the monster, while making them aware that the accuracy of each account is questionable and bound to be biased.  For example Walton clearly respects and almost idolizes Victor and is likely to embellish the facts to flatter Victor, while at the same time Victor is bound to tell the tale in a way that compliments him.  

Chapter five is written as an embedded narrative from Victor Frankenstein’s point of view as he tells the tale to Walton.  From the beginning the imagery of the setting is very gothic in that “It was a dreary night of November…” and the “…candle was nearly burnt out, when by the glimmer of the extinguished light…” Frankenstein “…saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open…”.  The words such as dreary and dull and the emphasis on darkness with the nearly burnt out candle, create a classic gothic setting.  These images along with phrases such as “With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony…” with its added alliteration have the effect building suspense and of unnerving the reader and alerting them that something untoward may be about to happen.  However, the language differs from classic gothic romanticism.  As although the setting is very gothic in nature, the language used is very literal, realistic and almost scientific in nature rather than the more elaborate language usually found in romanticists’ novels.  This is very effective because the realistic approach has the effect of exaggerating Frankenstein’s horror at the ugliness of his creation.

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Many scientific discoveries were being made at the time of writing, such as the ability of electricity to make lifeless flesh appear to come to life and Shelley was clearly interested and knowledgeable on the subject.  As when Victor says, “…that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet.”  it leads the reader to believe that the “spark” is electricity, which causes the “…convulsive motion…” that “…agitated it limbs.”  However, this “convulsive motion” and the instance when Victor dreamt of Elizabeth and “…every limb became convulsed…” or when he says “…for ...

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