In 1816 Mary Shelly wrote one of the most recognised and influential ghost stories of all time ‘Frankenstein’. Described as a ghost story it has many qualities to suggest this, using setting and situation throughout the book.
Although ‘Frankenstein’ could easily be perceived as just a horror story, beneath this are many other themes that take the stories deeper, these include: appearance and reality, showing how these do not always coincide with each other; the loneliness and isolation that the creature is pushed into and that Frankenstein assigns to himself; the dangers of obsession; the relationship between man and god and then the relationship between creator and creation; a warning of what can happen if you turn away from nature and the horror of childbirth, of which Mary Shelley would have felt very personal about after losing her own mother at childbirth.
‘Frankenstein’ has been very influential on ghost stories since this was written, as many now include similar factors; people being terrorised and killed, the super natural and an ending filled with despair and tragedy. The book is written using Chinese box narration, changing between three different narrators. This allows the reader to go deeper into the story, showing that behind every story another one can unfold. Writing like this also shows how the narrators perceive each other, show how they influence each other and the many similarities between them.
To begin, Captain Walton is writing in the form of letters. Using letters enables the reader to see what he is feeling, as he writes in great detail of his emotions and also of his actions as he is writing to someone very far away who has as little idea as the reader does about what the captain is going through. This also lets us see his relationship with his wife. This is important as it lets us see how Walton mirrors the behaviour of Victor, shutting out family and pushing the boundaries of nature.
To both these extremists only one thing is important. Victor Frankenstein then goes on to narrate the story as he tries to warn Walton. Victor seems to tell most of the story and I think this makes the reader feel more for him than his creation at this point in the book. The monster then has his chance to explain his actions and tries to win over his creator, for this short point in the book, the creature is shown having feelings and being remotely human. But, as Frankenstein resumes the story, the creature again becomes the killer.
Only at the end when Walton finishes his letter is sympathy again felt for the creature as Walton is sympathetic unlike Victor. Another important factor to having Walton’s narration at the end is to show how he turns back from his dangerous voyage, showing how Victor’s story acted as a warning to him. Chapter five is an important part of the book as it looks at the birth of the creature but as well as horror, this chapter includes much more below the surface of the famous horror scene, touching on rejection and problems at childbirth.