Compare and Contrast "Frankenstein" and "The Dead"
Reading contemporary novels and stories has been one of my passions since childhood. Throughout the years, I have changed the genre considerably, yet never ventured into classical authors until this semester. Unlike the contemporary books I've read, these classical works demand much more reader participation and involvement. Two examples of such demands of their readers can be found in Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein" and "The Dead" by James Joyce. The beginning of both works misguide the reader. The main characters in each story begin as the hero, but soon become the villain. Shelley and Joyce require the reader to look deeper into each character and come to an understanding of their shortfalls, in order to fully appreciate the complexity of the story.
Shelley begins "Frankenstein" with letters from Walton to his sister, stating, "How slowly the time passes here, encompassed as I am by frost and snow; yet a second step is taken towards my enterprise" (Shelley 9). These letters were hard to follow initially, because there was so little background work for the reader to follow or utilize in order to complete the process of filling in the gaps. It was like beginning in the middle of a story and wondering what the references were referring to, or what lead up to that point. This causes the reader to question what has been happening and what is currently taking place. Not until later in the book did I realize that the beginning letters from Walton to his sister were necessary to give background into why and how Victor got to the ship via the dog sledge trapped on an ice cap. The letters help the reader understand the reason Walton listened so intently to Victor; he was looking for a true friend. As Walton expressed to his sister, "I had always felt of finding a friend who might sympathize with me," (Shelley 14). This is somewhat similar to the confusion in the beginning of "The Dead," by James Joyce. Women were scurrying around the house getting ready for a party in the beginning of the story, so much so that "Lily, the caretaker's daughter, was literally run off her feet" (Joyce 2496). The story is so busy and full of details about the flurry of the women hurrying around, the long list of guest's names, and other information, that it becomes confusing, making it difficult to remember the list of characters and to follow the plot. When Gabriel begins talking to Lily, the reader is finally able to settle into the story and begin to discern the chain of events. In order to get through the confusion the reader must continue and hope to discover some statement or point of reference that makes all the pieces begin to fall together.
The main characters in both of the stories quickly show the reader their arrogance, though Victor more so than Gabriel. It becomes apparent early in "Frankenstein" that Victor is very contemptuous. The reader follows Victor through the first part of the book...