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alfprof212
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Frankenstein: The Letters

Why does Shelley choose to begin the book with letters from a secondary character named Robert Walton?  What are the benefits, or consequences, of beginning the novel with a character who gives such a glowing opinion of Victor Frankenstein?  How might Robert Walton’s opinions of Victor later affect our readings/interpretations of Victor and his actions?

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chad
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Re: Frankenstein: The Letters

I'd like to answer all of the questions, but I think you mentioned that the letters influenced the reader's opinion about Victor Frankenstein before we meet Victor Frankenstein, and, I believe it reinforces Shelley's theme of the "written word's influence or how it can change us by degree. The fact that letters, books and stories written centuries ago can impact our present time and our future as well, is both profound and always controversial.
 
Chad
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chad
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Geneva

Just something I'd post for further comment on Geneva:
 
"It is a subject also of additional interest to the author that this story was begun in the majestic region where the scene is principally laid, and in society which cannot cease to be regretted."
 
Shelley does not paint a "glowing" or happy vision of society in the following pages, but I wonder if historically, at least some of world problems began in Geneva. But they may end in Geneva as well- it continues to "temper"  a modern business world with the presence of international organizations like the U.N. I see Geneva as possiby both a beginning and as a possible, but a hopeful, end....
 
Chad   
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alfprof212
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Re: Frankenstein: The Letters

I completely agree.  I love the fact that literature can have both a "profound and controversial" effect on us...which might be part of the reason I became a literature teacher!
 
I just wonder though, why Shelley wants us to begin with Walton's positive opinion of Frankenstein.  Is it because she wants us to sympathize with him and his plight?  Is it because she wants us not to rush to judgment?
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chad
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Re: Frankenstein: The Letters

[ Edited ]
Walton and Frankenstein simply became friends.
 
Chad
 
PS- Both shared the same interest in unlocking the secrets of the universe to benefit mankind.


Message Edited by chad on 03-10-2008 05:47 PM
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chad
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Re: Frankenstein: The Letters

A couple more  thoughts on beginning with Walton::
 
an untelligent reading audience
more complete, more "full circle"
 
chad
 
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alfprof212
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Re: Frankenstein: The Letters

[ Edited ]
I'm not sure I know what you mean.  Could you elaborate on your last post please chad?


Message Edited by alfprof212 on 03-10-2008 10:07 PM
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chad
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Re: Frankenstein: The Letters

[ Edited ]
I really don't know the complete story behind the preface, but Shelley admits in the 1831 edition that her husband helped her write the novel and wrote the entire preface. So, it's essentially a co-written piece under one name- Mary Shelley. That fact, however, is something I don't think she cared about revealling, given the theme of the novel- how we are changed and influenced, by degrees, with words. That is, all influences, which she writes about in her introduction, could be, in part, the author of the novel. But "Frankenstein" is mainly the progeny of Percy and Mary. The Preface, however, seemed to me to be something added after the main body of work was written. Basically to reinforce things that did not manifest themselves well in the story. A "friendship" theme, perhaps. Artistically I'm not sure it would be a right choice to use the first person narrative entirely- that is, written from Victor's p.o.v.
 
Chad
 
PS- the reading audience perhaps came up "unintelligent" on the bickering over who wrote it- the shelleys created the mystery purposely.


Message Edited by chad on 03-11-2008 12:54 PM
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