Essay Instructions: Using Mary Shelley?s Frankenstein as the take-off point to discuss the 19th century English novel and branching off to include analysis of: Pride and Prejudice (Austen), Great Expectations (Dickens), and Wuthering Heights (Bronte), focus on 19th-century concerns of narrative style, individuality, gender, class, possession and being possessed. Consider Frankenstein specifically and the other novels more generally in terms of the following criteria:
1.) regarding each text as both representative and critical of nineteenth-century culture
2.) recognizing ways the novels rely on (even when satirizing/questioning/experimenting with) conventional ways of writing and thinking.
3.) Keep in mind Frank Kermode?s assertion that the nature of narrative centers around finding things out and ?changes as the needs for sense-making change? and consider what does or does not get found out within and outside the novel.
3.) Most importantly, consider the following commentary on realism in fiction. The source is Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel:
?. . . [T]he novel?s imitation of human life follows the procedures adopted by philosophical realism in its attempt to ascertain and report the truth. These procedures are by no means confined to philosophy; they tend, in fact, to be equally well summarized in terms of the procedures of another group of specialists in epistemology, the jury in a court of law. Their expectations, and those of the novel reader coincide in many ways: both want to know ?all the particulars? of a given case?the time and place of the occurrence; both must be satisfied as to the identities of the parties concerned . . . and they also expect the witnesses to tell the story ?in his own words.? . . .
The narrative method whereby the novel embodies this circumstantial view of life may be called its formal realism; formal because the term realism does not here refer to any special literary doctrine or purpose, but only to a set of narrative procedures which are so commonly found together in the novel, and so rarely in other literary genres, that they may be regarded as typical of the form itself. Formal realism, in fact, is the narrative embodiment of the premise . . . that the novel is a full and authentic account of human experience, and is, therefore, under an obligation to satisfy its reader with such detail as the individuality of the actors concerned, the particulars of the times and places of their actions, details which are presented through a more largely referential use of language than is common in other literary forms.?
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