Literature and identity

In Frankenstein, although the story is told by Robert we are being presented Victor’s view of the story. Therefore the novel becomes a story within a story. Frankenstein focalize events shortly after they happen. We can see this in the way Robert tells his sister that he will be in touch and he will continue writing to her as he learns more information. This gives us a sense of immediacy. We are told details as soon as he learns them from the source. We as readers are given a very limited perspective through Robert, “a story told from the limited point of view of a single protagonist may highlight the utter unpredictability of what happens.”(Culler, 91) This limited perspective can reflect to how little we know about ourselves and life and how this plays a role in the formation of our identity.

The story goes on slowly and is filled with details about what is happening up to that point time, a telescope view. The dates on the letters give us an idea of the speed. These letters are being mailed and take days or weeks to arrive. I feel that Shelly chooses this method of focalization to help us see how Robert changes as the story is formed and to emphasize that his identity is also being constructed through time. The story itself reflects how identity can be shaped. The more we learn of the world and the more encounters we have with different experiences, helps us learn more about ourselves and of things that we may otherwise have not known unless we underwent that particular experience.

We as reader’s step into Robert’s shoes. We are given the knowledge he has and as the story goes on the more details he shares with us, the more we understand. We know just as much as Robert. We are also given a unique insight to his feelings and emotions as he writes. Since we are told the story through his perspective, we may tend to sympathize with him more since he’s the character that we know most about. At the same time because we know so much about him and because we see how he changes and learn of his inconsistencies we may feel that he isn’t as reliable of a narrator as we think. This brings us to form our own identity as a reader because it puts us in a position where “we become who we are by identifying ourselves with figures we read about.” (Culler, 114)

 

Posting on labor day? Different Media and Literature

Before this semester, the last time I had picked up Frankenstein was in my junior year of high school. Upon opening it, I immediately recalled the familiarity of it’s somewhat, hard-to-get-into opening. Letters upon letters act as a preface (more like epilogue in retrospect) to the novel. Within the letters exists the suggestion of these words being a journal of some sort, and as the stranger explains, soon he will be telling his story as well. The narrator, Walton, resolves to make notes of the stranger’s story, producing a manuscript, sure to be appreciated in the future. Thus sets the stage for the stranger to begin his story. So far, the novel has spoken of a journal, a letter, a manuscript, and a story. Each of these suggestions exists as an individual form of literature, a concept which was questioned by Culler in the early chapters of Literary Theory. We were able to classify literature as a very fluid, open word which has transcended itself throughout time. “Literature, we might conclude, is a speech act or textual event that elicits certain types of attention” (Culler, 28). Culler goes on to say that a reader may identify something as literature when he or she finds it in a place where literature can be found. To me, this pushes the definition of literature to an even more wishy-washy place. As our novel opens with various forms of media, both in suggestion and action, all existing within the bounds of a fiction novel, it seems to me that literature is intrinsically objective. Who  opens the pages of the New York Times on a hunt for great literature? On the other hand, who reads through a history text book about early America and feels as if the words are attempting to elicit some sort of attention? By this definition of literature, one can only define literature based on what one feels is individually eye-catching to them. Can a billboard in New York City with a catchy slogan be considered literature? Where can we draw the line?