The story begins with and is enveloped by Waltons letters to his sister. His sister is very close to him; as can be seen by the affection terms used for her and the comfort level that Walton has with her; terms such as dear sister and my sister. This relationship that Walton has with his sister is placed on the reader through his expressions and use of language.
The reader is forced into the role of a character that already has some developments. Waltons sister is a character that exists prior to the story; this can be seen by the way Walton treats his subject. Because the reader is the audience with her, the reader is pushed into that role, but not to become a part of the story, only to develop the relationship with Walton.
The purpose of this suddenly close relationship is to bring credibility to the narrative of Frankenstein and ultimately bring credibility to the narrative of the monster. This is done be enveloping Waltons letters around both these narratives. These layers sustain the relationship through the novel and allow the reader to be outside of the story, physically in another location as Waltons sister is, but to be close and credible.
This established relationship that the reader is now part of allows the emotions that Waltons sister may have felt to be recreated and obvious to the reader. Be Assured I will not rashly encounter danger. Walton reassures his sister and it is made clear to the reader that she feels concern for him due to his tendencies. This emotion that she feels is recreated by his words of comfort to her. This pathos helps to build the relationship as do the other elements in combination with it.
In many circumstances, the letters also appeal to a more logical sense. Walton believes in his cause and believes that his sister (and reader) do not agree with this cause. Because of this temperament, Walton feels the need to justify his actions. So he justifies his actions with logical proof, these logical proofs appeal to the mind of the reader. This logos helps to build the relationship as do the other elements in combination with it.
The story ends with the letters to complete the encirclement and enclosure of the relationship so that all the elements that helped build credibility and a relationship in the beginning are sustained throughout.
Behrendt, Stephen. Approaches to teaching Shelley’s Frankenstein. New York : Modern
Language Association of America, 1990.
Mellor, Anne Kostelanetz. Mary Shelley, her life, her fiction, her monsters. London :
Shelley, Mary. Frankenstein. New York : Dover Publications, 1994.
Swearingen, C. Jan. Rhetoric and irony : western literacy and western lies. New York :
Oxford University Press, 1991.
Although the letters create an effective and believable ethos, unless the story within sustains this credibility where situations become unbelievable, the narration loses effect.