A Difference in Narrations

The novel Frankenstein by Mary Shelley was written a little before before the Victorian period in the 1810s, but it displays potent examples of unreliable and manipulated narration. The original version of the tale was the draft of the letter written by the captain to his sister. But, Victor Frankenstein towards the end is noted to have edited it, which erased the captain’s original perspective, and biased the novel to favor Victor’s narrative and presumably increasing the written hostility towards the monster. This is an obvious example of the loss of other perspectives, a “could have been,” or insights withheld from the reader. In Wuthering Heights, written in the 1840s, the narrators are primarily Lockwood and Nelly, with Isabella Linton as a arguable third narrator, while the main characters focused upon are Heathcliff, the Catherines, and the Lintons. In Wuthering Heights, there is a lack in the “true” perspectives of Heathcliff and Catherine for the details are biased by Nelly and Lockwood telling their points of view, much like how Victor Frankenstein wrote over the captain’s perspective. In Great Expectations, written in the 1860s, the main character and the narrator is one and the same: Pip. This first person narration, seems a bit more modern-YA-novel-protagonist, since the perspective of only one character is conveyed. What seems to be lacking in Great Expectations (so far) is those other “true” perspectives of characters such as: Joe, Mrs. Joe (which I might add, there has been no obvious notation of her own name), Estella, Miss Havisham, and other prominent characters. The machinations concealed in their minds, the reader will only be able to discover when Pip notices or through details he may note but not recognize. Both Frankenstein and Wuthering Heights utilize the manipulation and omission of the main characters “true” perspectives –the loss of Heathcliff’s, Catherine’s, and the monster’s perspectives– while Great Expectations, is utilizing the more familiar (dare I say modern) first-person-and-protagonist sole narrator. Is this indicating a post-1850s shift of the narration style in novels? Or perhaps, am I, the reader, biased and picking up on a false pattern created by the few novels I have read?

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