The strange, foreign and monstrous in "Frankenstein"

Essay by LanisseUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, May 2006

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"Fundamental to the novel is a story, in which a person comes into contact with things that are strange, foreign and monstrous." In an essay of not more than 1500 words, assess this claim with reference to one of the following novels: Frankenstein.


Realist novels are characterised by the use of ordinary, everyday settings and credible characters that seek to depict a reality that the reader can readily identify with and believe in. In general, this is accomplished by the use of recognisable locations framed within a specific time and place, inhabited by believable characters who interact, either directly or indirectly, with major events occurring in that time and place.

Realist stories are generally linear and causality is always established. They often contain themes of social and moral responsibility and there is a strong emphasis on family and other relationships. The characters are placed in recognisable situations that report human experience and tend not to do unexpected things.

Realism is the dominant genre, even today, and an element of realism is fundamental to any story if the reader is to willingly suspend their disbelief (Coleridge in Owens)

However, realism is more than just a literary term; it is a complex and adaptable literary style that has been influenced by the interweaving of the conventions of other, frequently non-realist, genres and sub-genres to more accurately represent the "truths" of reality and "Frankenstein" unashamedly embraces gothic, romantic and melodramatic traditions within its pages.

"Frankenstein" is narrated using a technique often found in gothic novels, i.e. that of framing or enclosing one narrative within another; in this instance, Walton's letters to his sister frame Victor's story which, in turn, frames that of the Creature. However, the use of epistolary narrative is typically realist, as is the use...