One thing we learned about literature while completing the PhD is that the frame story matters. You know what I’m talking about even though you probably haven’t thought of it. It’s the story that comes at the beginning and end of the narrative itself. It frames it. Like in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness when Marlowe is on the boat saying “this, too, was one of the dark places of the earth.” Then Marlowe launches into the story of his time in Africa. That frame story is mightily important and helps explain everything about the novel. That’s right: the frame story contains the clue to the entire narrative.
So if you have to write an essay on any work of literature, consider the frame story and try to figure out why it’s there and whether it contains the theme of the entire work. As an example, let’s look at Samuel … Read More