Most Common Words in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, By Narrator Frequency
I’ve always loved Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, partly because of the way the story is told through three narrators with their own distinct voices. For those unfamiliar with it, the novel begins with Robert Walton, a sailor, as narrator. In his travels, he encounters a sick stranger and takes him on board his ship to nurse him back to health. The stranger is Dr. Victor Frankenstein, the story’s protagonist. Once Walton asks why Victor is by himself in the Arctic with no boat or provisions, Victor takes over the narration and tells his story–that he created a monster who is now bent on killing him because Victor became disgusted with his creation and abandoned him. During the course of Victor’s story, Victor encounters the monster, who narrates several chapters about his experiences since Victor had last seen him.
Having always thought Shelley did a particularly excellent job at creating three distinct voices, I was interested in comparing and contrasting each of the narrators’ word frequencies, hypothesizing that the numbers would reflect each character’s personality and worldview.
Accounting for stop words, I created this graph of the most common words in the novel, broken down by narrator frequency, which does, in fact, reveal considerable differences in each narrator’s word choice.