Frankenstein; or, the Modern Protagonist
Abstract

Abstract:

While readings of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein often consider the creature's thematic centrality and sympathetic appeal, I argue that the creature's exceptional status is due largely to his prowess as a narrator of other characters' points of view. All three of Frankenstein's first-person narrators present characters' biographies and focalized perspectives in their narrative frames, yet it is only the creature whose sustains an intimate, internally focalized engagement with another character's interiority. Frankenstein's interest in this comparative identification is indicative of a larger approach to characterization that I call protagonism, a term that describes novels' impulse to distribute the kinds of deep interiority and intimate identification we often associate with one or two privileged heroes among many textually and thematically marginalized figures.